Backpacking in India: unexpected dangers.

1. Gecko Heaven

Danger comes from unexpected places in India. Perilous roads, the ever-present risk of shitting oneself.  We had a long list of potential hazards.  But little brown Geckos were not included.

In Goa, western India, street vendors sell fresh Sugarcane Juice. Lengths of sugarcane are pushed through the revolving wheels of a press to extract the juice. The cloudy, sweet liquid is collected in a jug, then decanted into plastic cups.  A fellow backpacker warned us not to try it. The biggest risk, he said, wasn’t an upset stomach. It was foreign matter from the press.

In a recent incident a tourist drank the juice before hopping aboard a tuk-tuk to visit a nearby town. When they arrived the driver found his passenger, not asleep as he thought, but dead.  

The subsequent Police investigation found the poisonous, mangled remains of a small gecko inside the press. The rest of the gecko had been in the backpacker’s drink.

2. They don’t tell you about the monkeys.

Monkeys hang out at many tourist destinations in India. Big baboons with scary pointy fangs. They sit in the sun yawning and checking each other over for tasty fleas. On the whole, they’re disinterested in humans. Lonely Planet advice was to stay well away. They’re unpredictable and could have Rabies. We saw little evidence of the former – occasionally standing up to scratch their arse; the extent of their exertion.

Of our trio, only Graeme had the Rabies vaccination – a painful injection into the abdomen.  Should a flange of Rabid Baboons come at us, our survival tactic,  agreed through a democratic process (a 2 to 1 vote majority), was to use Graeme as a human shield. He’d bravely restrain them while Julie and I ran away. Quickly.

Monkeys in small towns, we were told, were trained to swing down into hotel rooms to steal tourists’ belongings. The ones we saw, dozing in the sun on the rooftops, didn’t look poised, ready for a heist. 

We kept our windows firmly closed.  Just in case. 

A Flange


Image sources: all mine

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