I got lost in the market. Well, to be honest, it was more of a maze than a market. I don’t even think that it would be possible to draw a map of the place. I was looking for what should have been my reference point: a tiny shop that sells lightbulbs. I must have taken a wrong turn because I ended up being followed by a guy who insisted on selling me apples.
The policemen didn’t know where the guest house was so I had to keep on trying my luck with the tuk-tuks. The roads were so narrow that only motorcycles could move around. They were one-way streets for tuk-tuks. It wasn’t uncommon to see tuk-tuk drivers arguing over who gets to go through and who needs to move back. That’s yrakkeb arriere in Lebanese. The kids moved motorcycles parked on the side of the road to make room.
“Oh yes, yes. I know where.”
First driver in over half-an-hour that knows where the guest house is. The bargainer in me was reluctant to take the tuk-tuk. I was lost. I couldn’t use my phone. I had no maps on me. Basically, I had no other option. In this sea of tuk-tuks rushing by with school kids, this one was probably my only chance to get to the guest house.
But I just had to bargain. This is just like the way back from Galta Ji all over again. Except that I was alone and there were no cows.
” 50 or I’ll figure it out by myself!”
The driver said no so I walked away thinking oh shit, oh shit. Luckily, he changes his mind and follows me saying ok. The tuk-tuk was all red. The driver’s hair was red too and so was his mustache. Flamboyant red. Like the seats.
He lectured me for a bit.
“You should not go out without hotel card! You’re very lucky I found you!”
I know that. I think that I handed the card over to Giacomo while I was drinking the street blueberry soda last night.
“You’re also very lucky I speak english.”
I tried to explain that I lost the card. It was pointless however. The guy started telling me his adventures in Saudi Arabia. It wasn’t easy to keep up with him.
It took me ten minutes to figure out that the guy was just as lost as I was.
Thirty minutes later, he stops by the clock tower. As I was trying to guess the way back, he calls a friend and drives me straight to Hem’s guest house – charging me double the bargain price, smooth but better than being lost.
I spent the morning visiting villages. Two of them were Bishnoi and so I was lucky enough to cross yet another thing off my bucketlist. I first found about the Bishnoi in a french book called La foret des 29. I found it in a braderie held at USJ’s faculty of medicine. It was an orange book I kind of ignored until my grandfather took it off the shelf and handed it over. Long story short, I loved it. I promised myself (over four years ago) to visit a Bishnoi village.
One of the families I visited invited me inside their home for lunch. It was one multi-functional room. Bed, kitchen, pile of stuff all around. I had millet chapati.
Even though I was really looking forward to meeting the Bishnoi, it wasn’t as magical as I thought it would be. I kind of broke the spell when I stepped out of the book and into a real village. I was expecting women breast feeding baby deers but the village has adapted to modern life. The lady who made my chapati was discussing governmental paperwork with my guide.
The Jeep off-roaded for a bit as I was on the lookout for antilopes. I have only seen them in books or on TV. It took us a while and then, here they were. More magical than on paper or on screen.