A laborious process to book bus tickets, causing chuckles at the coffee cart, and looks like we’re stuck in Mandawa again.

Day 148: Mandawa, India. Our plan today was to hang about in Mandawa and wait for Jim’s replacement credit card delivery to arrive by Fedex, then catch an overnight bus to Agra.

The email confirmation from Fedex said the delivery was scheduled to arrive ‘before 5pm’, so we had no idea when it might actually appear.

While we were eating breakfast on the patio, a pretty gorgeous looking camel appeared at the hotel gate. We were hopeful it might be Jim’s Fedex delivery but nope, it was just bags of cement for some construction work that’s happening at the hotel.

Around lunchtime, we packed up our bags so we were ready to leave later in the evening, and walked into town to get our bus tickets to Agra. We walked up and down the main street, but couldn’t spot any travel agents in amongst the eclectic mix of stores. We asked a guy in a shop, who for some bizarre reason pointed us to a hardware store selling hammers and concrete, which in any case was closed.

After asking around again, someone else told us to go to ‘Happy Travels’, which we also struggled to find. Largely because their signage is inside the shop, making it a little difficult to spot. The shop seemed to be a bit of a multi-purpose outlet, selling anything and everything but at least they also claimed to sell bus tickets.

The guy behind the counter, who is still using a 2017 diary, said he could help us with tickets. We asked for sleepers on the upper level of the bus – we said it’s because it’s cheaper, but really it’s so that people who haven’t got seats are less likely to sit on us. He set about tapping keys on his keyboard very slowly while frowning madly (admittedly the plastic sheet covering his keyboard made typing pretty tricky).

After what seemed like an age, and with lots of Lil’s help to show the guy what information he needed to type and where, we got two confirmed bus tickets. We also got a printout, though the guy’s printer was almost out of ink so really it was just lots of random black marks on a page.

As we walked back through town, we spotted another camel with a cute red pompom on its head and some rather dashing necklaces. For a moment we hoped it might be our Fedex delivery on the way, but sadly not.

We spent a chunk of the rest of the afternoon sitting on the stone verandah by the coffee cart, drinking coffee and hanging out next to the guys playing cards.

We caused much hilarity when a guy asked how old we are, and discovered that Jim is younger than Lil. He laughed and laughed, told his mates sitting next to him (who also started cackling), then called more people over to tell them. All very amusing, if a little odd.

It was a perfect chilled afternoon of sitting and watching the world go by. So many interesting characters, and so many lovely people (even if we mostly have no idea what they’re saying or asking us).

We bought some roasted peanuts on the way home, which were piled high on a food cart. The lovely guy weighed and scooped them into a hand made newspaper bag, which is way better than dishing out plastic.

For Lil’s last ‘feed the pooches’ mission, she set off around the local streets and dropped a torn up sliced loaf on the pavements for the local dogs. A pooch that looked like it recently had puppies found a bread stash pretty quickly and wolfed a large amount. Perhaps not the most nutritious food, but still heart warming to see it scoffing whatever it could find.

We had beers at the hotel, while we waited, and waited, for the credit card delivery. The original time of ‘before 5pm’ had now been extended online to ‘before 8pm’. Given our bus was at 9.30pm, we were starting to cut it a little fine.

8pm came and went. We chatted online with Fedex, who said the local delivery guy had received the package for delivery at 3pm, but didn’t do anything with it. He’s now promised to deliver it at 10am tomorrow, which means we’re stuck in Mandawa for another night. And the beat goes on.

Meantime, we’ve received so many lovely wishes for Jim’s loss of his dad. It gives us comfort that although we’re tucked away in what feels like deepest darkest India just now, we can still be connected with others across the planet. Sincere thanks everyone.

Tomorrow, we’ll be hanging out in Mandawa again. Let’s hope the driver turns up at 10am as promised, we get on the overnight bus to Agra, and that no one sits on us.

More then.

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