My original plan was to go to the Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary, about 3 hours from Pune, and stay overnight in or near the sanctuary. My friend/driver Vikram told me he could take me to a much better sanctuary and asked if I wanted to go.
Of course! Do you know a place to stay?
I assumed the sanctuary would be reasonably close by but since this was an adventure, I didn’t ask any questions. I was just there for the ride. We stopped for a snack 3 hours in, and stopped again for tea 2 hours later. At this point he tells me we are still 2 hours away. I burst out laughing.
We finally come to a stop in front of a small building.
Me: Is this where we are staying?
He goes inside and talks to two men. I stand and listen to them chat in Marathi. Vikram motions me to follow him and shows me a small, empty, dark room with a large bison skull on the floor. Then we go back to the office and the men continue to talk.
Oh my god, I am going to sleep on the floor next to a large bison skull!
Vikram turns and says to me, “This is a sanctuary. It is government housing. We can stay here but if anyone comes in the middle of the night we will have to leave.”
I burst out laughing again, I can’t stop laughing. The two men and Vikram are just looking at me. But this is the funniest thing I have ever heard and I just can’t stop laughing.
Vikram: Should we take the chance?
Me: Of course, why the hell not! How much does it cost?
Vikram: We are not supposed to stay here. The cost is 600 rupees plus tip for letting us stay.
I give him 1200 rupees.
Vikram: And we have to be out by 5:00AM.
We walk away from the bison skull building and walk to a little house at the end of the driveway. The guard opens the door and the rooms are wonderful! There was only one problem. One bedroom. Vikram left and slept with the bison skull.
So it was just me and the carpenter ants. I made a deal with them, if they stayed on the floor, I promised not to squish them.