The Waterfall Adventure
The Lonely Planet guide book talks about these “waterfalls” in Hampi that are supposedly only a 2km walk away. Since it’s hotter than hell here, Maren and I decided to trek on over there the other day.
About 5 minutes into our walk, a small Indian man in his mid-50s appears and asks if we’re going to the waterfalls. We confirm that we are and he insists that we need a guide to get there (naturally, he would be that guide). We repeatedly tell him that we don’t want a guide and we don’t have any money to pay for a guide, but he is determined. So he sticks with us, constantly walking a few feet ahead of us down the only path to the falls and CONSTANTLY talking, talking, talking. Maren basically told him to shut up and leave us alone, but it was totally ineffective.
After following an obvious trail for about 20 minutes, the path sort of disappeared into a banana field and we quickly realized that we would indeed need a guide I even started to feel glad that Suriya (that was his name) had insisted on sticking with us. We trekked in the midday heat through the banana farm, into the jungle for a bit, and finally out onto the dry riverbed (which is only dry during dry season and is fully flowing during monsoon season). Walking across the riverbed was really cool because the rock formations looked surreal and unearthly, like walking on the surface of the moon. It would be the perfect location to shoot a sci-fi movie.
I guess we ended up following Suriya for about an hour before we arrived at HIS destination, which was NOT our destination. Instead of leading us to the waterfalls, he took us to what he called a “secret spot” for swimming where we wouldn’t be “stared at” in our bathing suits. He promptly took off all his clothes except for his speedo-style suit (or underwear? It was hard to tell) and he got in the water. It was so freaking hot and we had come all this way, so I figured “What the hell?” and I also undressed to my bathing suit (which I was wearing under my clothes) and started to get in. At this point, Suriya tells me that since we’re in the secret spot and no one is around, I can go ahead and take my bathing suit off. Yeah, no. Pretty sure I’ll keep it on, homeboy.
For about 10 minutes, Suriya and I kind of swim around/sit around in the river enjoying the coolness of the water. Maren, understandably, felt too weird about the whole situation to get in the water so she remained in the shade of a boulder on the shore.
At one point, Suriya swims to the shore, stands on a rock, pulls some soap out of nowhere and gives himself a full washing, concentrating on his crotch area a bit too thoroughly if you ask me. I concluded that our swim session was over at that point, so I got out and got dressed and we asked Suriya to please bring us to the waterfalls, since this area was obviously not them.
He books it back along the dry riverbed with us scrambling over the rock and boulders, trying to keep up. Within about 15 minutes we arrived at the place which was clearly the spot we had wanted to go to in the first place. There were about 15 people there, tourists, locals, and guides hanging out and jumping off a cliff into the water. It was here that Suriya started hounding us for money for being our “guide.” We told him again and again (and reminded him that we told him from the very beginning) that we didn’t have any money with us. He didn’t believe us, got angry, and left us there.
We ended up having to ask three local teens to show us the way back to town. Fortunately the boys were heading back anyway, and they were nice kids who seemed happy to help us, asking only for a selfie with us once we got back to town.
Although the whole situation was bizarre, frustrating, and a bit creepy, Maren and I never felt threatened. It was one of those situations where you really have to listen to your gut instinct, and my gut instinct never yelled “Beware! This guy is dangerous!!” However, we were only able to laugh it off because we were together. Safety (and comfort) in numbers. If I had been alone, I don’t think it would have been a laughing matter.