11.03.2014 - 15.03.2014
We are here with Hitesh and Ruchi, on a tiny spit of a an island, with a wild, totally undeveloped beach on one side, and a wide, series of backwaters on the other. This place is really off the beaten track, and we have seen no other tourists except for a couple of German girls, who joined us on an excursion around the backwaters. The beach goes on for miles and is lined with coconut palms. The surf, while still a delicious temperature, is, if anything, rougher than Kannur. Even though the sea appears calm, near the shore, short waves crash into each other both coming and going, and produce a powerful wave sandwich with a great deal of spray. It is easy to get tossed and body slammed. Despite this, we have managed to get in and get wet every day, as the heat seems to increase almost on a daily basis.
Usually as the day goes on, there is a fresh breeze and and the upstairs terrace provides views of the palms and the beach, as well as the backwaters. Sunsets are particularly spectacular.
On the down side, the place itself could use a few more creature comforts, like real sheets and more towels. Also the water is almost the color of mud, and does little to clean the body after a dip in the salt water. Clothes come out dirtier when they are washed than before. We hear it is a problem with the well, but clearly they need to invest in a serious filter. Also, despite the mosquito netting, sand flies and mosquitos seem to find a way into our rooms. The food on the other hand is quite good and plentiful, but we shall make our way into town for the last night, and stay in a place with ac and better water.
A local ferry makes the trip up the main backwater route into town, and then back again a few times a day. It takes about 3 hours, but the journey gave us a chance to see how the locals travel.
Up until a few months ago, the only way to get to this narrow island was by ferry, but now they have completed a new and substantial bridge. The backwaters have a wide assortment of birds, small fishing boats, like canoes, and areas where the locals are cultivating mussels with the aide of the government.
After the ferry dropped us, we had about 20 minutes to stock up on various snacks, especially calicut chips. Made from tapioca, they taste like very crunchy potato chips. We have been enjoying them every night with beer we brought from Payannur. Finding and purchasing booze in Kerala is quite a chore. When we arrived in town a few days ago with our driver, it took about 15 minutes to find the only liquor store, which was up three flights of stairs and unsigned. They would only sell us five beers, but Hitesh and our driver were there, so we managed to purchase a case, which we have made short work of in these hot, sticky nights.
Yesterday we hired a boat to take us on a tour of more of the backwaters. It started with the engine failing. After half an hour or so, and with the help of the boat owner, our somewhat hapless drivers finally got it started.
We toured around, but because of the shallowness of some of the narrow backwaters, they were reluctant to proceed too far. It was unfortunate, as that is part of the reason we hired the boat in the first place. Nevertheless, it was still an enjoyable ride.
Earlier in the day, we walked down the island to check out another hotel, and see where the road ended. More than half a mile past the road, it was nothing to rave about. It was, however, interesting to see the villagers living simply in their thatched and concrete houses, coconut shells piled high. Everyone seemed quite friendly, and although they are not that used to foreigners, they seemed happy to see us. Perhaps that was why they were happy to see us. Last evening, an older woman was walking along the beach with a child, who I assume was her granddaughter. She was more than happy to pose for a picture.
Tomorrow Hitesh and Ruchi head back to Delhi, and we shall go on to Kochi. They have have made excellent traveling companions, and we shall miss them. Although not everyday has been entirely comfortable, overall things have been pretty relaxed, and I feel the sense of gratitude that I usually do, when I have the opportunity to travel to out of the way places. At home it is hard to sit still, but I seem to be able to do this more easily on the road, in part because the traveling life is simpler, and there are fewer things that we have to attend to.
Pramila continues to help us with various travel arrangements from her home in Mumbai. She calls most everyday, and we have taken to calling her mom, even though we are almost twice her age.