The late night arrival into the KRCL GH resulted in relatively late departure from Margao. When I set out at 6.30 am I had every intention of covering the backlog and reaching Kanyakumari for the night. The original schedule was only 750 kms from Mangalore to Kanyakumari – add to that another 270 and it looked doable. I left Karwar at 8 am after a short break in the KRCL GH for attestation – did not realize it was Sankranthi till I was given ‘pershad’ by the KRCL officials. The 275 km drive from Karwar to Mangalore took me 5 hours. The NH17 thereafter became very crowded and the drive was treacherous in North Kerala. I reached Mahe at 6 pm after many narrow escapes and knew that Kanyakumari would not be possible. The alternatives were Trivandrum and Cochin. I decided to keep the decision for later as accommodation in the two places would not be a problem.
The near misses that saw guardian angels at work grew with every passing kilometer. By the time I reached Calicut and was met by staff of Deepika, I was mentally exhausted. When posing for photographs in the City a person who had downed a few pegs more than he could respectably carry caused interruptions. He wanted to be part of the shoot!
I finally decided on halting at Cochin, at home. I arrived close to midnight into Cochin and the backlog had grown to 305 kms. The unscheduled halt at Cochin helped me jettison used clothes and pick up some fresh ones. The mental fatigue far outweighed the physical. It is such a stressful experience driving in Kerala – narrow roads and arrogant road users. 800 kms in 19 hours behind the wheel.
By now, I should have covered the west coast and completed more than half the expedition – that is, done 3670 kms of the 6600 kms of the expedition.