After regaining strength we were determined to attack again the mountain climbing without thinking twice, we knew that the plain of Assam would be easier but to be lost in the forests of the hills and to meet the Khasi tribe in the state of Meghalaya was one of the reasons why we came here so … let´s go up-road!!!! Few slopes are not going to stop us, for now.
Relaxed and happy we took a small truck among the forest which led us to the mountains of the Khasi tribe.
It took twenty small crosses between the houses (where while we asked for directions, the neighbors invited us to have tea, biscuits and made us gifts like rice, lemons and a kind of typical scarf made of cotton called “gamusa”) and a pair of straight roads where would have the security of being totally lost in the rice fields, where it was already harvested at this time of year, it was just straw.
Finally we found the way when the master of the village led us with his bike to the last junction where we had no way of getting lost. When he finished explaining and translating to all the kids of the village (who had been uniting to what already looked like a ride) who we were, what we were doing, the whys and what added in his own hand, then and only then we left watching like a lot of people from the crossed road were waving their hands saying bye-bye.
“Again -Aitor told me-another experience that makes us to realize that there is a huge diference between the main and the secundary roads. From one to others we found two totally different, even opposite worlds. Even when the roads are so close to each other the difference is amazing “Remember yesterday – the experience of the previous day when we had crossed some kms a general road- “not only traffic but the people, meetings, how they have treated us. This is quality, not only in the ride, but also in the rest of the things that for me are the most important.”
Forests, hills, forests, smiles, hills, jungle and smiles and like this we went back to Meghalaya. This time stronger with the travelling rhythms in our legs and mind and ready for it could come.
The simplicity and the natural rhythms coupled with cleanliness and the respect for the environment were transformed more and better as we climbed, even the places to have a rest from time to time were great…
The sympathy that the Khasi tribe had caused us and the interest in the subject of matriarchy and learning more about how that makes a difference or not in a society, made us to go every night close to the people. In the evening and still with few hours of sunlight, we used to stop in one of the small villages and we let happen any meeting, any approach, and then after a little chat, the other found out who we are, where we come from, what we have there in the saddlebags … we ended explaining what we explain always ….
“We have all we need here, you do not have to worry about us, this that looks like a bicycle is really a moving home, just we need a place to camp safe.”
We know that we are totally safe but it is the excuse we use to be close to them (or “a covered site”) and always they allowed to stay somewhere sofe and happy.
We have taken a rest: in a church (see picture to understand what is here a church), in homes, community centers …. but always wherever we stayed never has missed the fire, campfire at night where we have sat around like they do every night togother on low chairs, taking the hand palms and the feet toes close to the fire to ease the body.
Being so far from home we felt proximity, friendship, sense of tranquility and the best of all the feeling: of being at home.
Smiles and always someone who spoke English to communicate and translate … sweet and unforgettable moments in the evenings by the fire in which we were learning about them, their lives and some curiosities such as the bamboo if green, to burn in the fire must be broken or made a hole otherwise it blusts.
Bamboo grows everywhere here and is used for everything … building houses, tables, chairs, benches, making spoons, cooking in the coals placed on warming ….
One of the most different things we heve ever seen, was the men taking care of children, carrying babies even at work (we even saw a shoe-maker working with the baby hanging in his back totally slept) always on their back with a blanket around, like women do in the world , with the same affection and care.
And something else, young people, aged 9-15, 16, never saw boys that age doing laundry, we have always seen this task in girls, women or men, never before in children.
But the biggest difference of all we experienced with us, often that made us laugh. Never before we had heard so much the word “madam”. Here I was who had to make the decitions, who had to make the check in at the hotels and to sign any official paper or thing that we had to sing, is the woman who is in charge, which inherited the surname. Principal figure and therefore I was. Aitor’s just my husband.
We had discovered in one stop in a small town without any kind of hotel, that there are special hotels for official use only that are used for goverment workers that asking permission beforehand we could stay and enjoy the luxury. Those hotels are cheap, clean, quiet and even luxury. So after crossing the mountains and reaching Shillong (the capital) we decided to try it again.
This led us to the office, in this case, and in town, a couple of huge buildings and as usual in all countries ….
– Now that office, no, now to that other …
And so, always with passports in hand was speaking and they were heading, Aitor was invisible and was delighted with it.
Thus we came to the main boss a woman in her 50s with black hair quiet, elegant and self-confident ways with which we had tea while the whole issue was becoming bureaucratic and told us something very interesting:
-We, the women- Told us while looking at us behind his glasses- sometimes delegate responsibility among men, doing so we have no problem. As we have always had control and power, we are not afraid of loosing it, so we have no fear of men taking away our place and that is why we do not care to delegate in men. There are men who also have power, we don´t care.
We delighted left that office and almost in love with this woman through who we got one of the best rooms we had so far at a vey very cheap price.
And from there to the best of the cake, the living bridges Meghalaya.
A good friend was the one who told us about them because we did not know they exit.
That was the initial reason for wanting to cross the mountains instead of going across the plain of Assam.
Bridges made from the roots of trees that directed with bamboo are intertwined with each other and finally after many years become these incredible bridges where one feels transported to worlds goblins, elves and magic.
Something amazing to see it because even if we explain you it or even if we show you lots of pictures you will never be able to imagine a glipse of this place, the space, bridges,or even the feeling of being there. Wonderful.
It was worthy the tiredness, the slopes and more the 3000 up-stairs and downstairs to get that valley in the middle of the jungle where the treasure is hidden.
And since everything is continually changing, and after a sunny day comes the rain also played us a good scare that made us tremble with fear and was not the earthquake in the neighboring state of Manipur (yes, made us tremble and have fear) but the news that the Indian government had decided overnight to ask for special permission to foreingers who want to be in these lands.So if we wantd to cross into myanmar we had to cross the entire Indian by train (more than 2000 kms) to get the permit in delhi in person otherwise we could not continue with our dream of visiting myanmar.
The nightmare lasted a few days and left many tourists and travelers that in a dark situation, but apparently due to bureaucratic pressures Indians repented and dumped back overnight such a law.
The good side of that situation is that that while looking desperate and exchanging with other travelers information about what was going on, we found a link in the network of a neighboring state that so far we had almost not heard about: Nagaland.
I read a story of a Spanish that was there and we decided that at any cost we wanted to go and see it with our own eyes.
So it was that suddenly we forgot about our plans and we reinvent the trip.
Instead of continuing to Myanmar we would go north making a detour of more than 800 kms.
But that is going to be another chapter.