As much as we have been walking these last 15 months, the sleeping thing remains a daily challenge.
India, like the other countries we have walked, forced us to think creatively about where we safely placed our heads for the night.
On the plus side, we have gotten more confident about walking up to people and asking them if we can bunk up on their property. On the downside, it’s almost never a sure thing, and sometimes it takes a few tries and some extra knocks on the door in the dark before we can rest.
During this stretch of five months in India, we had the most luck getting the much-desired “Yes, you can sleep here” from schools, gas stations, highway toll booth operators, businesses with back rooms, restaurants that turn into shelter for overnight highway drivers, and Sikh temples, called Gurudwaras.
We also had our share of hotel rooms, which were welcome during the cold, foggy and damp winter months and the weeks I couldn’t left and carry my backpack post-surgery.
Frequently, the days we stayed in hotels, we left our backpacks in the room and did out-and-backs without weight, essentially walking 35-ish kilometers to some point on the route and taking a bus back to sleep in a private room, without people grouping around us. Hotel days are also usually laundry days, and the smell of freshly washed clothes wafting up from window panes and invented clothes lines makes us happy.
We could count on one hand the number of times in five months that we slept in private houses with families, and on the other hand, how many times we had to free camp. Free camping wasn’t really an option because, like in Bangladesh, there are too many people living along and traveling on India’s roads, which brings into question our personal safety if too many people know where we are. There are also night creatures, like monkeys, street dogs, snakes, elephants and the elusive tiger (which we thankfully never encountered) said to wandering about some of the regions we passed.
Here are a few of the places where we stretched our legs and caught some zzzzs.
Restaurants called hotels
Schools, dorms and gas stations
Businesses with backrooms
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