Weekend in Kerala - Part 1
Fly with Chris from
Flight from Chennai to
Land in Cochin/Kochi – don’t fall asleep and end up in
Palm trees everywhere
Lush tropical scenery, winding tropical waterways, cows grazing in green fields by the airport
Meet Karen at the airport and take a pre-paid taxi to the hotel. Taxi turns out to be an old ambassador – my first real taxi in
Drive an hour through the same horrible traffic as everywhere else in
Le Meridien hotel on the water. Hotel has big 3-tiered pool. Welcomes us with coconut juice. Nicest hotel in
After checking in, take an auto-rickshaw to
Drive through old streets with fruit stands selling entire branches of bananas. Walk along the waterfront during sunset where fishermen are pulling in their last Chinese fishing nets of the day. Fishermen use rocks and 6 men to pull the nets in, even though there are only tiny fish. Kittens surround the box of fish, pawing at the fish as the wriggle.
Walk along the beach around the old fort, watching Indians on vacation and people play fully clothed in the water of the
Roll up my pants and feel the water, warm but not gross like the
Walk around the fort until dark, come upon a field preparing for a soccer match across from the white-washed St. Francis church, founded by the Portuguese in the 17th century.
Intrigued by the name, stop in a shop called the ‘Treasure Trove’ - apparently a popular name around Kochi (Treasure Trove Coconuts, Treasure Trove Tatas, Treasure Trove Dried Fish, etc.). Find crap, not treasure, although ‘Crap Trove’ doesn’t sound as appealing. We did gain a memory to treasure at the crap trove, as we watched a cat squeeze itself into a shoe on the door step.
After dinner attempted to find auto-rickshaw in tropical rainstorm. Stood in boatyard driveway beating off mosquitoes and realizing how the human race first figured out how to dance as we swung our bodies around trying to keep the mosquitoes away. Waited for hotel taxi after Chris ran down the street and was ousted from his potential rickshaw by men loading piles of bananas into the last available rickshaw.
Took long shower and went to sleep early.
I awoke bright and early to go swimming in the three tier pool. After taking a short swim I lay by the pool where it was already getting hot at 8 am, and had to go in when the mosquitoes converged. We had breakfast at the hotel and then headed back to
First we went to the ‘
Afterwards we looked in some shops and went to
We went to the synagogue which was closed for Sunday and then wandered back to get an auto-rickshaw back to the
It turned out that his boss had failed to mention that he would be driving us to Munnar and that he would be staying there for 2 days, so we had to stop by his house for him to pick up an over night bag, and he had to call about 5 people to tell him directions.
The drive to Munnar was amazing, first through the lower tropical crop-land full of coconut, pineapple, and banana plantations, then up through spice plantations, and finally into the jungly mountains. These mountains must have been where they filmed Indiana Jones, because no other place in
We stopped at a ‘rest stop’ a spot on the side of the road by some waterfalls where men were climbing and jumping around and vendors were selling coconuts cut by machetes and banana chips, and I reeeeeallly had to go to the bathroom so I braved what I expected to be the worst toilet of my life.
I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the toilet, and although it was not the cleanest in my life, it had a seat and didn’t stink, which was more than I could ask for in most American rest stops, and I was able to relax for the rest of the trip. As we continued into the hills it got dark and we could see lightening in the distance. The roads were in poor condition, and there were crazy buses playing chicken on one lane roads. All of the taxis in these places are jeeps, and for good reason – we’re not even in monsoon season and the roads are full of potholes and mudslides. We were in a tiny car, an Indian version of a Ford focus or the like, and the driver kept stalling, since he didn’t seem to have a ton of experience driving a stick on a hill.
When we finally arrived in Munnar, it became clear that our driver didn’t know where our hotel was, even when we explicitly asked him if he did. He tried to drop us off at a random hotel which didn’t look fantastic, and definitely didn’t have a plantation attached to it since it was in the grubby town of
I was never happier to be anywhere than when we arrived at our ‘hotel’ (which was really a bed and breakfast) and they greeted me by my full name. When we emerged from the car the temperature was about 72 degrees and not humid, and I couldn’t have appreciated it more. They took our bags to our room, took us to dinner in the homey dining room, and we relaxed in anticipation of the view we would have when we woke up.