Valerie and I travel for extended periods. Time is a valuable and we choose to spend ours traveling. Most people either have time or money but not both, sadly we are no exception. We go to amazing places but always on a restricted budget, which can be quite challenging. The most unfortunate aspect of this is that we have to think about money a lot, and we have to be careful with it. The beginning of our experience in Orcha is a good example of some of the pitfalls we sometimes fall into and how wonderful it is when someone helps you see them.
When we stepped off the train in Orcha it was pitch black and foggy. A single auto rickshaw was waiting and the station was eight kilometers from town. Our wallets groaned and we began mentally preparing ourselves to be taken for a ride, and not the kind we needed.
The man smiled at us broadly and named an expectedly outrageous price. I countered ceremonious, kicking myself for quoting fair price instead of outrageously lowballing him in return, I was now on shaky ground. ¨Ah! You have been to India before?¨ he laughed. ¨Yes, we love India,¨ I lied, sort of. ¨Come, come,¨ he said, ¨let´s get out of the cold.¨ We climbed aboard. I was relieved and happy but felt a bit dirty for being so cynical.
He took us to a guesthouse, something we almost never let drivers do lest we pay their commission and endure their hard sales for the rest of our visit, but it was exactly what we were looking for (and one of the cheapest we stayed on our entire trip to India). It just proves that generalities can keep you out of trouble but they can also keep you from experiencing the best part of traveling – the sincere kindness of strangers. Luckily this man persevered past my preconceptions and we got to experience his.
Orcha is bigger than tiny Khajuraho but since there are almost no tourists it has the authentic small village feeling that we prefer. The fort there is beautiful and romantic. Mustard fields of brilliant yellow stretch across the horizon and life in town revolves around family and the temple. It´s a place we could spend months, and perhaps someday we will, but with the Taj Mahal looming on the horizons of our mind we only spend a few days.