Day Twelve- August 12, 2008: Rathnagiri to Mahad
The morning flag off started with a group photo, The Engine team 13’s Steven and David in Sari’s borrowed from Team Compact Pussycats. Without any late sleeping officials to flag us off we enjoyed careening out of the hotel flagged off by the mechanics. Everyone, but the Spanish Team #16’s the Thirsty Riders, took off with a roar. With the bad mechanical luck and good humor that had brought them along this far, they were just about to experience their best mechanical accident yet: a flipped rickshaw landing both of them into a very muddy ditch. When the mechanical team arrived, they appeared to be covered head to toe in mud yelling at each other like creatures from the black lagoon. Eventually, even they found it quite funny.
Despite the rains, teams had a fairly easy day and everyone arrived to the flag down in time to visit the incredible Raigarh Fort at Mahad. Lost in a deep mist with scattered rains, a vast rock face covered in lemongrass, moss and gently swaying greenery that appeared almost electric in color, the fort is at the very top. Teams climbed into precarious little boxes on the ropeway that leads up in groups of 8 or 9. Despite the hilarity of arranging transportation in regular jeeps that broke down anyway (thanks team 6!) and the mysterious Indian fees for things you never imagined for things from parking to gate fees, taxes, entry, etc. It was incredible, the stuff of fantastical medieval movies and dreams. Waterfalls gushed out of the green mountains everywhere with delicate little flowers struggling against the elements on impossible slopes.
The fort itself was huge, covered in moss and filled with rainwater. The throne and various look outs called for more exploration, though the fog was so thick you could only hear the voices and steps of friends nearby but anything more than 10 or 15 meters disappeared.
The nice people at the Hotel Kuber Palace assured us that there would be a pool next year, though we aren’t so sure that’s the improvement we’d most like to see. Still the people were very nice, the service was unusually good and the restaurant was really what you’d want to tell people about when describing the more exotic experiences along the way.