Having arranged to go back to the immigration office this morning at 7 am got a pretty loud and hostile knock on the door at 7:05 when we didn't show on time. Apparently they didn't appreciate us "sleeping in". After some more arguments about "taxes" they wanted to charge us we threw in the towel and just paid what they demanded and got on our way.
After the shitty roads from yesterday it was great to have decent roads today. Lily needed some more welding done though so after our first real meal in about 30 hours we stopped to get welding jobs 8, 9 and 10 done. Hopefully that'll be enough to keep her in one piece until Shillong but still a long way to go.
We were all pleasantly surprised about the homes and way of life here in Nepal. Granted, we had just come out of one of the poorest regions of India so our expectations were low but everyone here were happy, healthy and had a decent roof over their heads. A stark contrast to the blockage village we encountered the day before. Also, here when we stopped there'd be a few people gathering around Lily but not the hoards we'd having surrounding us in India. A nice reprieve.
This entire region is currently near the end of dry season. It hasn't really rained in about 6 months so it's extremely dry. Over the 303 km's we made today we traversed at least 200 rivers of varying sizes. All were bone dry with the exception of 3 that had a trickle of water. Was our first time seeing this kind of extreme conditions. We normally think of dry times when the rivers are lower than average. Here they are dry beds with people harvesting rocks and earth instead of fishing.
About mid afternoon Lily completely lost her power. We managed to get her back to the nearest town to get her checked out. We already knew the issue. The part of the exhaust we replaced the day before burned through again but 8 days as a team we've developed a good knowledge on what Lily's problem areas are so this should be a quick fix... IF the garage has the part we need. Our mechanic, at the tender age of 14, replaced the burnt out part with a completely different seal. Worked like a charm! For the rest of the day Lily was running like a champ. Hopefully that continues for the rest of the week.
One last thing we needed to accomplish today... feed the monkeys. We've been seeing groups of monkeys around the highway a few times so we did what any stupid tourist does, we bought a bunch of bananas and when we came across the next group we pulled over for a little 1 on 1 time with our primal cousins... or more like 3 on 30 but close enough.
With the border delays, breakdowns and monkey time we were well behind where we wanted to end up tonight. With only 4 days to go until we have to be in Shillong planning stops has become more critical to insure we arrive on time so today was gonna be another night driving session, and our longest at that. Still 60 km from our goal we enjoyed 2 hours of crazy night driving with the driver trying to see through an extremely shitty windshield, past the high beams of oncoming traffic to see if there's anything in our way. Passengers don't get a free ride either. Each have their heads out looking for pedestrians, bikes, tractors, holy cows, goats, buffalo, monkeys or anything else that the driver might not see. This road was great so didn't have to worry about massive potholes so that was a bonus. In the end of a 14 hour day, our longest to date, we arrived at another very basic hotel in the town of Itahari exhausted as usual.
Tomorrow back into India and if all goes well up to the tea fields of Darjeeling. Should be amazing.... if we can get up the mountain with Lily. Fingers crossed.