So I’m still stuck here in the foothills, having been delayed once again. We leave for the real mountains tomorrow morning, but for now I’m still in the town of Vashisht (for a fun game, substitute an H for the V.) This is due to the dynamics that occur between backpackers, and so I figured now was a good time to discuss the traveller scene.

You’d think it would be a weird, awkward experience. Not only are you in a country as foreign and intense as India, but you are there alone. As a result, you’re forced to meet people who are also foreigners. If you had never travelled independantly, you’d anticipate being beset by weirdos and crazies. At least you’d meet a bunch of douchy meatheads or something, right?

With the occasional exception… no. The vast, vast majority of travelers, especially in a country like India, are pretty cool. At the worst they’re boring but harmless. At best, you meet some of the most interesting, engaging and stimulating people anywhere. I’ve never travelled in Europe, but the impression I get is that the scene is somewhat mixed. The same could be said about Thailand, where there’s a strong chance of running into a sex tourist or some drunk at 11am Brits.

Here, though, things are ccol. I spent the other night in a house on a farm. We drank Kingfisher and smoked charas, the weak, resiny hash locally made by rubbing marijuana leaves together. The stuff grows wild and free all over the mountains here, and the apple orchards not exclusive to apple trees. I was with the standard mixed crew: an American, three Brits, a Swede, two Israelis, and a Scot. We talked philosophy and spirtuality, we discussed Jurassic Park (the movie, not the book) and the various hunting tactics of spiders. There were some massive jobs creeping across the walls devastating any bug lazy enough to rest for a few seconds. It was a good show. The hosts cooked an amazing three course meal and wouldn’t accept any compensation.

It was a special evening, but not all that rare. Travellers of this sort tend to be generous and trusting. You’d have to be a pretty abrasive or intolerant or perverted person to alienate a group of hippied out backpackers. A girl we’ve met had 7000 Roops (the newfound slang for rupees) stolen out of her bag while she was bathing at hot springs. My Scottish friend, Ross, handed them the same amount, the equivalent of $150, telling them to pay him back when they can find an atm. They did, in kind, a few days later.

So I’m stuck here, mostly due to one guy. We’re on the wrong side of the high mountain passes, getting rained on every day by clouds too heavy to cross the peaks. Once on the other side, we’ll be in a strange sort of high altitude desert. But Matty, from Cornwall, is having bike problems. Every day for the last week he’s been unable to leave. So we’ve waited. He appreciates it, for sure, no one wants to make this three day mission alone.

We leave tomorrow, for “sure” this time. But for now, I’m off for dinner. Oh, and my head wobble is ┬ácoming along nicely.