Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I love Kerala!

Teri - After two nights in Goa, we said goodbye to most of our GAP Adventures tour group and continued south to the state of Kerala. Well actually, we took a flight north back up to Mumbai, caught another flight south, and landed in Mangalore before reaching our final destination. (Our original direct flight was cancelled.) So we spent pretty much the entire day of November 9 in transit. But we enjoyed three decent meals on the three flights, and I'll take plane travel over overcrowded local bus any day!
Kerala is so beautiful...if you ever visit India you must come to Kerala! As much as the urban centres in the north are noisy, polluted, chaotic, and frenetic, the south is quiet, green and lush, tranquil and serene. The streets are more organized, less crowded and seem to mostly maintain typical traffic rules as well.
Yesterday we met up with our new tour group and new guide. We rode by air conditioned mini tour bus (this part of the tour seems much more luxurious!) to Alappoozha/Allepey, which is sometimes referred to as the 'Venice of the East'. It's a region below sea level, where backwaters are the main roads and canoes and houseboats are the main vehicles. We took a boat down the backwaters to our homestay at the Green Palms where our hosts treated us to the best meals we've had in India! (And we've eaten very well all along!) The host family explained how they grow their own rice and other vegetables, pick their own coconuts and filter collected rain water. Everything tastes so good when it hasn't travelled further than from the backyard. We had local catfish, rice, coconut curry, paratha, long beans, salad, the list goes on, it was quite the feed!
Our host Matthew took us on a walk and boat ride and talked about Keralan history, culture, economy, etc. We stopped at a 'toddy' shop where we sampled the local brew - a mildly alcoholic beverage made from the coconut tree.
The sky opened up and we got to experience the retreating monsoon! It poured and then rained steadily for hours, and we continued walking, and then rode in the slowest boat ever back to our homestay. Fortunately Matthew and the boat men entertained us with traditional Keralan songs as we shivered in the wet, cold and dark.
I was sad to leave this morning - the family that operates The Green Palms is gracious and charming and the perfect host family for experiencing the backwaters way of life. Fortunately, more great adventures awaited us...but I'll save it for the next post. I promise to liven up this blog with more pictures soon.
Thanks for reading everyone, hope you're all doing well, send me an email sometime will ya?

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