After passing the border I hurry to Amritsar. First I get trapped in the chaotic traffic that is acting very inefficiently, but then I reach the neighborhood of the Golden Temple and end up in a hotel occupied only by Indian people. The hallways connecting the rooms are all in open air. The other guests (sometimes whole families in one room) have washed their clothes and have hung them to dry over the banisters. It is the first sign of the limited privacy people in this crowded country are satisfied with. (I myself would feel a bit awkward hanging my briefs in front of my room for everybody to see.) But it would take some time before the notion of overpopulation would really dawn on me...
After four months of Muslims, with the finishing touch by the Pakistan Sunites being a lot more strict than the Shi'ites in Iran and Turkey, I really am unaccustomed to women taking part in the dayly rituals. Pleasantly pleased I admire the ladies walking the streets, cutting me off on their mopeds, and selling their goods in the open. And beautifully dressed! I really like these Sarees - nice, bright colors combining lovely with the shawls or the qamiz in some way or the other. And while my clothes get all black of the exhaust fumes of the diesel trucks, these ladies manage to let the clothes they wear look very fresh.
Because it is still early, I visit the golden Temple. Almost everyone in the world knows the Sikhs with their turbans. Amritsar is their sacred city, and in this city there is a temple forming the centre of their religion. It is not that large: the holy bath, built in a square shape with sides of about 150 feet, is placed in the middle of some kind of walkway with niches. In these spaces people are sleeping (religuously?). Others, all men, are having a bath in the water. For this they get undressed and wrap a cotton sheet around their waist. 'Diaper', as the Dutch couple I met en route to Chitral, Pakistan, defined it. After this they enter the water, until they are submerged to their shoulders. The turban, which has to be on at all times, doesn't get wet. For the first time I undergo the required covering of my hair: I wear a head cloth, else I'm not allowed to enter.
In the center of the bath is the actual Golden Temple. I see many men going to this center by means of a footbridge, mutters a prayer, and go back to the outer ring. There are no Western tourists, and the people daring to enter the center part all wear a turban or some authentic head cloth (in contrast to my improvised head covering). The boys, which apparently have to acquire the right to wear a real turban, have bundled up their hair on top of their heads with a thin hair cloth covering the hair. I find this sight ridiculous - but the Sikhs probably think otherwise. None of them cut their hair, they all wear it bundled up on their head underneath the turban. Some even have their beards in a small net under their chin.
In history, the Sikh had to fight to secure a space for their religion too. One of the Gurus (there have been about 10 of them - they are somewhat comparable to what the Pope is for the Catholic Church) has thought it prudent to add some military elements in the religion. Fighting for your beliefs is thus taught from early on, and it is not very strange that many of the officers in the Indian army are Sikh. Madam Indira Ghandi should have realized this a bit better when she sent her soldiers to the Golden Temple to teach the independent movement of the Sikh a lesson. She finally was killed because of that...
Alright - I admit: I came to this place because the couple I met in Pakistan (I'm really embarased I forgot their names) told me so pasionately about this Temple. And this time it's no 'tourist trap': this Temple clearly serves a specific purpose. I can read from the faces of the people that being here and taking a bath is very special to them. I spend a full hour sitting on the marble floor looking at the other visitors and I absorb the spiritual sounds. Outside I get to talk to an old man, who walks with me for half an hour and explains everything I want to know about his religion. If he isn't a priest, he should definitely become one. Of course the really hard questions only pop up when we have said goodbye...
Now I am in India, but I haven't the faintest idea what to visit. I hear something about a 'camel fair' with about 50,000 camels during the first few days of November in a place called Pushkar. It turns out to be just a bit further away than one day's journey, and I end up in yet another desert at sunset. And this day started out very well scenery-wise: I wrestle myself out of Amritsar going south, and I cross a piece of land completely devoted to agriculture. It almost looks like Holland: farmers on their vehicles ploughing the land, little canals everywhere, and fields with poplars acting as wind breakers. Only the temperature (more than 30 degrees Celsius at the end of October) and many of the other trees, plants and animals along the road don't match with the Dutch image.
Slowly the Dutch-like scenery changes into a desert landscape with sand dunes and very sparse vegetation. The population changes from farmers into traveling shepherds. And camels, I encounter lots of camels. Sometimes in large herds, being led over the same road I'm riding on. In the 'hotel' of Sardarshahr in the middle of the desert (I sleep in the bed of the owner) I spread out my map of India and I finally start to think about what places to visit. All the guests in the restaurant help me define my route. I have to go to Agra, because there is the Taj Mahal. And to Varanasi, there flows the holy Ganges. Actually, I don't want to go to cities at all, and I choose some nature preserves. I end up with a big 'tour of India' - I estimate it to be over 6,000 miles. The next day I abort the trip to Pushkar, I want to go to Agra first. The next day (or days) it will be Pushkar's turn with its camels...
The first part is easy, but then I wind up on the through-route between Jaipur and Agra, where there are lots of trucks. I choose a fine hotel some 15 miles before Agra and then I dare to go into the city to look for the Taj Mahal. If I was a bit more interested, I could have told you which one of the Moguls constructed this building for the woman that died giving birth to the fourteenth child. But for me this is something of a 'required number', and so I am grateful to see many Indian tourists. Especially newly-weds are there in numbers. At once I get to see many different faces of the Indian population. I have a great time observing them, and I spend some time taking pictures of the building, but the most pictures are from visiting people.
Mostly by accident I'm witness to the sunset - I meet some tourists who have come to the Taj Mahal specifically to see it in the light of the setting sun. The color of the marble changes from a blinding white during the day into a friendly, almost pink color - definitely worth seeing. Following this I have to find my way back out of town in the dark, and this isn't easy. And again I manage to get one of my cases broken off of the bike in the dense traffic.
Next day I arrive in Pushkar. Another sacred city, India is full of sacred stuff. 50,000 camels is a bit over estimated, I count at most 5,000 camels. OK, 10,000 when counting those stupid animals walking in the opposite direction and getting in my way today. The camel fair is already over. Most of the traders have done their business last week, those were the herds I ran into today. I have traveled about 300 miles today - the camels walk that distance back. All of Pushkar is filled with stalls selling almost anything: from trash to good food. It reminds me a bit on the Night of Assen, the night before the motorraces on the circuit of Assen in Holland. After two days I leave southbound, to a park where the last Asian lions live and then on to a small island called Diu.
Riding through India is a dangerous occupation. For everybody, but especially for the smaller travelers. The apparent rule here is that the larger road-user take precedence. There are many sorts of road uses in India. When looking at motorized traffic, there are in order of precedence: the coach buses, trucks, mini vans, cars, riksjas and last the mopeds. A riksja has one front wheel, and two rear wheels, powered by a two-stroke engine. They are used for moving people around, but they cannot hold more than five. I estimate about a dozen people can be transported in an enlarged version: this is a mix of a pickup and an Enfield (diesel!) motorbike. Very ugly looking, and producing as much smoke as the small ones.
There are also some large road-users without engine, they always get the right of way: the cows. They walk freely everywhere, and many have to test their brakes to the limits when such a beast suddenly decides to cross the road. It is as though they know they are holy animals: they don't even look at you when you've come to a full stop with your tyres smoking. Then there are the apes. They at least look around them before they get on the road. I have no idea what kind of apes they are - when they sit upright, their height is about 1.5 ft with a sand-colored fur. They eat the things that fall off trucks and that are thrown out of buses. Camel vehicles take also precedence, mainly because they don't go any faster than walking speed. Actually they are moving road blocks, they can weigh several thousand kilos because of the enormous amount of cargo they transport. Probably will make quite a mess when you crash into one of them.
Dogs are present in great numbers as well along the road. Especially dead dogs - apparently no one brakes for these animals. Around the corpses it is crowded, unless the animal has died recently and isn't smelling yet. The crowd consists of ravens, crows and... real vultures. A pretty sight, such a big bird in the middle of the road picking at a dead animal. They mostly are white, about 2 feet tall. The bald head makes them complete. And actually they are quick enough: I rarely see a bird that has been run over.
There are also many living dogs, especially where there are lots of people around, although these hosts only throw rocks at the dogs. They scurry around in the trash that has been thrown on the streets, and wander around just outside villages. Pigs the size of wild swines compete with the dogs in searching through the trash. These pigs too only are present when there are people around - in the middle of villages. With no respect to death herds of them, mostly a mother with a couple of piglets, cross the road. Fortunately the roads in the villages are so bad because of the trash, the missing tarmac and the heavy traffic, the speed of the vehicles is low enough to prevent casualties among the pigs.
I'm in the category of mopeds, but actually I don't belong there (and that has nothing to do with feeling superior). I'm much faster than those mopeds which sometimes carry three people. I even saw one with two men carrying two goats in between them. Living ones, with the legs tied together.
The roads aren't built for these amounts of traqffic. It is awfully crowded on the through roads. And the crowdiness is mainly caused by the vast amount of trucks. All trucks are of the same brand: Tata. Well, there is the odd Ashok Leyland. But they are all very old, and none of them is in any good condition. Crooked suspension, front and rear wheels not in line, tyres without profile and missing headlights (and signal lights). They get stuck a lot as well - breaking axles, exploding tyres, cargo falling off.
There are so many people here! Around the turn of the millenium India expects to greet its billionth occupant. I couldn't form any image in my mind of a coutry with that many people - naive as I am I thought a couple of large cities would house the majority of them. But how can you put a large part of 1,000 million people in some 10 large cities? That is impossible - India is filled with cities housing a few million people. A 'village' on a crossing of two roads easily is occupied by more people than Amsterdam! And all these cities have emerged 'by themselves' - nothing to do with planning. No roads around the city to relieve the load in the center, no traffic planning, no way to avoid the city if you have no business there. It costed me two hours to cross Jaipur (1,8 million people) and Ahmedabad (3,6 million pieces).
Everything is crawling in the packed streets - really everything. Stalls along the side with people on foot, carts pulled by camels, horses, donkeys or cows next to them and in the middle of the road the other road-users, including the groups of cows and the shepherd with his goats. The buses cross the streets from right (driving through) to left (picking up passengers), and often block the road completely. Everyone has one goal: get out of this mess quickly. And so they all use their horn furtively. They all try to pass each other. They all ignore the directions of the police officers. And we all drive on the wrong side of the road, and we refuse to back up when we end up blocking the road. An Indian city is a traffic mess.
The noise is overpoweringt - and it is the kind of pollution I have the least problems with. In my helmet I don't have problems with the noise, and I could even wear my ear plugs. The smoke is more difficult. The riksjas and the mopeds are the worst polluters, with the trucks as a close second. In some spots the fires of the tents along the road compete for first place as well. And then there is the dust blowing in your eyes. When I'm back in Europe I'll complain about the childish things like the unpleasant odors emerging from the heaps of trash.
I act a bit carelessly about this, but the smoke almost caused me to turn my back on this country. Sometimes the diesel fumes from the trucks are so thick I cannot see the right side of the road when I'm overtaking. Riding through a city for 15 minutes gives me the same stuffy feeling I knew from my smoking days. Here this is coupled with watery eyes and a coughing fit when you are halfway through the city. I'm no fan of cities anyway - I don't like the prospect of having to cross all those 'provincial villages' with a couple of million people, each time I want to visit the next nature park.
The roads outside the cities are two lanes - sufficiently wide to let two trucks pass with ease. Indian trucks don't clear the road when they have a malfunction. They stand still in the middle of the lane and place a couple of rocks on the road to signal the presence of a problem.
Being a truck or bus driver it is no joy to have to follow an even slower vehicle. There is a constant overtaking. But once on the right side of the road (here we drive on the left and overtake on the right) the view is much better - buses don't go back to the left side by themselves. Not even when there is a curve in the road - they are the biggest vehicles and have the right of way. Trucks drive on the middle of the road, or else they cannot see past the overloaded truck in front of them. When there is someone else approaching they sometimes fall back to their own lane, when he 1. is big enough, 2. sounds his horn long and loud, and 3. is the winner of the 'chicken race'.
Oh well, at first it's kind of nice - I ride straight at the truck, make myself as wide as possible by riding slightly to the right of the center of the lane, I sound my horn and turn on my lights as an added bonus. Some react immediately and retreat to their own lane. Others need more time to notice I'm approaching much faster than a moped. But there are drivers who win the chicken race because they have no choice. Those idiots don't want to abort their overtaking attempt, so I see two trucks coming at me, both of them have no way to go. And so I have to brake with all my might (riding at 50 mph - faster is too dangerous) and I end up on the shoulder of the road.
I get along reasonably well - I have to keep focused - taking in the landscape is asking for trouble. Sometimes I unexpectedly run into a stranded truck, two idiots overtaking in a bend, another overtaking and not seeing that I'm there as well, or just a loose cow. No, the fun of coasting and looking around is gone here - too dangerous. Making good time isn't possible either, riding fast makes the distance for a full stop too long. (Then again, the bike now runs at 1 liter per 15 miles - there are advantages...)
I wonder how many times this will go wrong, and I start paying attention at the signs of accidents. I first start to notice this between Jaipur and Agra. I cover the 150 mile stretch twice. I see 6 truck wrecks the second time which I haven't seen the first time. Every 25 miles an accident each 24 hours? Can this be? After my visit to Pushkar I start counting: I do end up at an average of one wreck each 25 miles. I only count the head-on truck collisions, the crashes into trees, and the ones that have tumbled over. The trucks with tyre problems, and oil leakage are not counted.
I pass Ahmedabad, situated some 350 miles from Pushkar, after 8 hours. To be honest this is way too long for a day's ride in Indian conditions, but there was a stretch that was reasonably quiet and I made soem good time there. I want to cross the city and then find myself a hotel along the road. This fails, because right after Ahmedabad I cross a vast plain full of swamps. There isn't a single buidling for miles, just some tents of the slums type, where they boil tea on one of those smoking fire places. The road is elevated, and now and then we cross some bridges.
Suddenly the traffic comes to a halt. As an accomplished traffic asocial I ride over the right lane passed the waiting row of vehicles, sometimes squeezing myself betwee trucks when others are approaching. After some 5 minutes I see a police officer in front of a heap of twisted metal. The next second I look into a couple of lifeless eyes of a traffic casualty, still filled with fear. He sits upright, wedged solidly in the driving chair of what once was a mini van. Two other corpses are laying in between the wrecks in some twisted angles. Covering them up is apparently something for those weenies in Europe. I don't examine the truck they crashed into too carefully, to avoid the death mask of other victims. I swallow hard and think: "There are plenty left of those one billion". Then I think of their (Hindu) wifes who will be informed tonight. Kids, who won't see their father as 'just one of thos billion'. Men who weren't planning to die in a failed overtake attempt. "Like myself", I realise, for I'm not planning on returning dead, too.
The traffic coming towards me doesn't know any more than the fact that about 2,000 people die each year in traffic. That is merely a statistical fact, and they drive like they always do. The people driving in the same direction as I do have of course seen the dead as well, but still they bravely join them. I subsequently loose every chicken race, and I am the Hindu god responsible for hotels grateful when finally one pops up. Touring merrily around is not possible here (for me), and that was the reason I came here. I decide to visit the nature park with the lions and the beach in Diu, and after that I want to leave India immediately.
The next day I leave Limpdi, still in a slight shock. During dinner, I told the story of the three dead people to a man in response to the question what I thought about the traffic situation in India. His response: "Oh well, we are with a billion people..." I tell him my thoughts, and I get a wary look back...
The journey to the lion park in Sasan Gir leads me off the 'National Highway' and gives me the opportunity of looking around a bit more. I'm on my way to the small triangular shape between the big Indian triangle-on-its-tip and Pakistan. This is a savanne - the closer I get to the protected Gir Forest, the rougher the landscape gets. To my surprise there is still a fair amount of agriculture in the protected area - the people actually live amidst the lion biotope. But grass lands and the occasional tree is dominant here. The really good news is that the population density is drastically less here. There is less traffic, and there are fewer pedestrians on the roads. Without danger I can have a look around me. I even start to have fun again in riding, without being stressed all the time.
I settle down in a room of an hotel from the Taj group - they usually are very expensive, especially according to Indian standards, but I get a room for just a fraction of the price. (The hotel manager loves the fact that I rode all the way from Europe on my bike.)
The few people in the village of Sasan seem to be living in an different era. The land is prepared with the aid of oxes, electricity is absent in many places, and the people know next to nothing about the rest of the world. Many don't even talk the official language of India (Hindi), only Gujarati. A bloke on a high-tech bike is something to behold here. I see an advertisement with a picture of three BMW bikes in an attempt to give the cigarettes some more glamour. "Smoke this brand and you will be riding very fast on a foreign bike as well", the message seems to say.
The images people in local restaurants see on MTV really exist! And immediately they suspect I'm involved in all those activities they see on MTV - I am that white man who doesn't have any morales and mixes with half-dressed women. Sometimes they greet me with open hostility.
Every time I show up on my bike a large crowd gathers around me. Initially I enjoy this, but after a while the pushy fiddling on the gadgets of my bike starts to annoy me. When I get mad for pushing the start motor button while the engine is still running, they laugh a bit sheepishly, but they don't stop molesting my GPS.
That afternoon I spend on my first safari. On a Japanese jeep with a guide and other tourists we go out to look for lions and other wild life. We drive through hilly landscapes, which is at places completely open with grass, and at other places a dense forest. The lions don't show themselves, but we do see countless deer (the food for the lions). And I would have loved to have a bird identification book for India at hand, I see many birds I've never seen before. The wild swines and peacocks are plentiful as well. We only hear the apes, I get to see them the next day. I return when it's dark, and I am treated to a delicious meal at the Taj hotel.
As for the food, India is my favourite country. I really enjoy it - almost everything is pretty spicy, and the variation is fantastic. The massalas I've encountered in Pakistan are very diverse here. My problem is that most of the time I haven't the faintest idea of what I'm eating. I have to get myself a cookbook soon. Many of the dishes are vegetarian, therefor they use lots of unusual ingredients, like raisins and nuts.
The food is taken in without cutlery (that is, apart from the posh restaurants). You get a roti with your dish: it can be chappati, nan or something else - they all are variations to the flat 'bread' which is baked in a Tandoori oven (or in a flat frying pan). You tear off a piece of the roti with your right hand, and then you dip it in the dish you're eating. You can pick up a piece of meat (or cheese) with it, and this way you can eat the larger bits as well. I'm not as experienced at it as the people here, but when I get the chance I practice twice a day (yes, the weight loss of the first couple of months has decreased a bit). It is important to use only your right hand - using your left hand to handle food is dirty.
A second attempt in the morning again doesn't get me a lion, but I do see a beautiful sunrise. Unfortunately we drive the same route (now in opposite direction), but this is made up by the much better guide, who tells a lot more about what we see. After the trip I go to the 'Interpretation Zone' - a large area within the park where they keep the most important animals. There are small vans, one of which takes me to a resting place of a male and female lion. Now I've seen a wild lion in its own biotope after all.
The road to Diu, a small island in the southern-most part of Gujarat, is bad, but fortunately not that long. I yearn for the beach, the sea air and the possibility of walking around in my swimming trunks. In Muslim countries this is unthinkable, and in India I didn't have the chance until now. Diu was under Portugese control until 1961 (together with Daman and Goa), and has a separate status. In Punjab and Gujarat they don't sell alcohol, but on Diu they do. I treat myself to a beer, and another delicious meal. I'll stay on Diu for three days. But I only take a brief dip in the not so clean water of the crowded beach.
The road back passes by Alang. Being the son of a man who sailed the seas, I sure want to visit this ship scrapyard. They sail the ships, even large oil tankers, onto the beach and takes them apart. The raod to this scrapyard is filled with small shops trading all kinds of stuff: washing sinks and mirrors, beds, diesel engines, ship lights or teak wood. This is an amazing sight: all kinds of junk, seemingly unrelated, next to each other. I'm refused entrance to the actual scrapyard. I have to get a permit, which cannot be obtained on Sundays. The man at the port says he has been given explicit instructions not to let any (more) foreigners in. He doesn't even accept my offer to settle this with 'bakshees' (a bribe). "Permits tomorrow in Bavnagar, 40 miles ahead", is the verdict.
Monday in Bavnagar they keep holding me on a line - after eight phone calls and a fax I still have no permit, it's 4 PM. I would have preferred them to tell me up front if it won't open up for me. I have found an Internetcafe and via email I ask Menno to sen a couple of tyres and the clutch lever to Goa. I'm not leaving India right away - a decision I'm going to regret later.
I go to Mumbai, the city formerly called Bombay. This is a huge city, and it takes me three hours to reach the center. But now I've seen all of this town. It is a strange mixture of richness and poverty, literate versus illiterate, architecture and slums, sea wind and exhaust fumes. I see cars that cost a lot of money even in Europe: a Mercedes S-320 glides over the cracked asphalt which is lined with the beggars from the poor parts along the 'Western Expressway'. I show people a map of Mumbai, asking where I am - they cannot read. Another time I get useful hints in perfect English. Useful, because all roads in India are straight. "Where is the Gateway to India?", I ask, and the answer is always: "Straight ahead!". Even if the road runs into the beach. When I ask it again, the answer is: "Straight ahead that way!". To be able to do that, I have to make a right turn, but "you understand that, don't you?".
I select a modern hotel with air conditioning, it is very hot and humid here. Halfway November, and it is still 35 degrees Celsius in the shade. On my way to Bombay I passed the tropic of Cancer. Technically speaking I'm in the tropics. The deserts which started to get to me in Pakistan are now behind me. Ever since Ahmedabad the vegetation has become denser and denser. You can't see that in Mumbai - there are very few trees and plants in the center of the city. All the space is taken up by traffic. I arrange a guide with a car, and he shows me all the important stuff in Mumbai in 4 hours. I visit the place Ghandi lived. The "red light" district is included as well, but it takes some imagination to recognize it as such. I only see poor housing with people standing in the doorways.
In one go I ride to Goa. Nice road, traffic is light, scenery is a bit hilly, some small mountain passes, lots of greens - I have a wonderful day. Halfway I misjudge the height of a bar on the road, and the support of the right case breaks. With the aid of a nylon strap I manage to get the case back on the bike, and I arrive after sunset in Baga, Goa, on Friday evening. I locate an iron worker who is willing to replicate the broken support, but not before Monday. We agree I'll return to put the support on the bike, after I've collected the tyres from the airport. I leave the case and the broken support behind. The rest of the weekend I'm on the beach.
That beach has nothing to do with India. Beach tents appropriately called 'shacks' which produce loud music and beer. The beach is covered with countless Coca-Cola parasols and stretchers with English people who are as red as boiled lobsters at the end of the day. I stay out of the sun and thoroughly enjoy soem music by Santana, which emerges from a CD-player on 'indefinite replay'. There are no toilets: They've erected a wall made of straw mats which will keep you out of view. Behind the toilet is the trash heap. The beach is occupied by bathers, and swome cows as well - in a way this is still India. The calamari, the shrimps and the soup are delicious.
A bitter disappointment awaits me at the Internet cafe on Monday morning: the tyres are still in Holland, the Dutch Car Association couldn't ship them to Goa after all. I have to go back to Mumbai. Menno will send them to Mumbai after all.
I go to the iron worker who is welding a new support for my right case. A man approaches me and says he owns a BMW as well. A 100GS. And indeed, he has a 100GS parked in his yard - the power regulator is broken. A mechanic has to come from Mumbai: "Johnnie Motorbike", the BMW man is called. In the living room he has a very expensive stereo, a wide screen TV, and nice furniture. Obviously a wealthy man. He has to be, he rides a BMW in India. The import taxes are about 150% of the value of the bike. And then I see a part of a gun in between the pillows of the couch. And next to that the handle of a large knife. I accept the phone number of Johnnie Motorbike, but politely refuse the offer of another visit this evening.
After that I'm practically finished in this tourist-laden Baga (apart from some unanswered email), and I move to Arambol in the northern part of Goa. Goa has been used for years by (has-been) hippies as a place to spend the Christmas time. That used to be Calangula and Baga, which now are crowded with respectable tourists who are flown in by charter. The 'scene' has moved to quieter places - of which Arambol is one.
I decide to just tour around a bit, and stumble upon a guesthouse villa. The owner doesn't strike me as the one who has styled this nicely decorated villa. So I ask about the lady of the house, I feel strongly this villa is styled by a woman with passion. It's a long story about an unfortunate love for a Finnish woman who finally dumped this man. He has been left behind, and now tries to uphold the glory of the villa and rents out the rooms.
But we are in Goa - the hippie hang-out of yesteryear. And some things never change: the traveling young man who works for the villa owner to add to his travel budget is surrounded with the scent of hash. Later on the owner tells me he despises drugs use, but you can't prevent it in Goa - or else the guests will stay away. That night we watch the meteorite storm from the roof of the building. It is very well visible in this part of the world. I spot a large amount of 'falling stars' - the others are so stoned they cannot even remember the conversation of that night.
The villa is beautifully situated. Just some 150 feet behind the dunes which accesses a large, deserted beach. The palm trees are planted right up to the last dune row. The fishermen are back at 7:30 AM, and have a lot of mackerel in their nets. They also have caught some small species of shark. I take a 6 mile walk along the beach, and meet just a handful of people. I even go skinnydipping. And that was precisely what the doctor ordered after four months of Muslims.