Day Four- August 4, 2008: Vellore to Hosur

School visitAfter a flag off from the hotel driveway that led smack into the middle of typical Indian street chaos, teams were supposed to make an easy trip requiring only 3 turns to get to the next school visit. On the way, many were lost, stalled by the adventure of refueling or just misdirected by locals directing them straight but pointing in an entirely different direction.

Once there, teams in Batman and Robin costumes were swarmed by thrilled school children. All of the participants and organizers were welcomed with beautiful flower garlands and asked to shake hands and give autographs and pictures with boys and girls who loved the colorful autos and the attention. Participants surrounded by kids requesting autographs and being photographed by local media were overwhelmed by feeling like celebrities, but managed to really enjoy touring classrooms and learning more about Sri Ramakrishna Middle School, Kosapet, Vellore.

Day 4 saw the landscape begin to change from desert to rolling hills with vegetation and rock outcroppings. Temples moved away from the multicolored South Indian styles to the more muted single color temples more typical in the north. Road conditions were still quite good and with a little experience under their belt, teams began playing tricks on each other.

One of the highlights of the day came when Team #16, the Spanish team called the Thirsty Riders, went into a local temple to find that their shoes had been stolen. Furious they asked locals standing outside the temple entrance who had done it -and typical of Indian directions- they said it had been a black autorickshaw. In fact it had been the other Spanish team, Madrid 2016 in a white autorickshaw, but by then it was too late. They were already searching local shoe shops and trying to track down the British team, Two Tukkers in Tukxedos, who they suspected. By the time they reached the hotel everyone else knew what had happened and their friends sheepishly returned the shoes.

Batman in School The poor Tukkers were already having an adventure of their own. At a toll gate a local driver began to harass them, puling off their megre windshield wiper and demanding the police. Attendants called the local authorities and the Two Tukkers in Tukxedos dutifully waited for 30 minutes for authorities to sort out an incomprehensible situation. Luckily five more teams pulled over to see what the situation was, just as the police arrived. Possibly under the influence the other driver disappeared in the other direction, while the police chief tried to determine what had happened between the attendants, the Tukkers and organizer, Nona Varnado. After a tense five minutes we were all waved on. The lesson learned: it pays to have friends and travel in a posse when the authorities turn up.

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