Saturday, March 13, 2010

Backwaters, tea and a buffalo skull under the bed.

Well, our two week whirlwind tour of Kerala is just about to come to an end. Just to clarify-we haven't been farming while we've been here. We're taking about a 6 week hiatus to be tourists and see some sights on our way up to the Himalayas where we will begin farming again. The weather in southern India is starting to get very hot. Today's forecast: 90 degrees farenheit but feels like 99 with humidity.

We took a short train trip from Varkala to Kollam. In Kollam, we stayed with a man named Ramesh and his family who we met on Ramesh was wonderfully hospitable. He opened his home up to us and we ate wonderful homecooked Keralan meals (fish and beef curries in coconut sauce) with his family.

On Sunday, we took a canoe boat tour of the back waters. On the tour, we drifted lazily through narrow canals lined with coconut, cashew and banana trees.We saw some local people crafting a large canoe made from coconut wood and coconut fiber rope.As we drifted further back into the canals, the hustle and bustle of Indian city life completely disappeared. It felt as though molasses was in the air. You could tell that the people in the villages here live simple and relaxed lives. It was quiet and serene, the only interruption being the moaning of a cow or cackling hens. Our guide spoke only a little English, but he excitedly pointed out things as we passed them. Things like: "Madame, pineapple!" or "Kingfisher!" and "My house!" (evidently, we were passing through his neighborhood). It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

After the backwaters, we headed for the cool relief of the hills in Munnar. The Munnar area is popular for its tea plantations.We took a 5 hour bus ride from Kottyam on twisting roads through rolling hills covered in tea plants. The weather there was glorious! The cool mountain air felt so refreshing. On Wednesday we took a public bus (much cheaper than a taxi or rickshaw) up to Top Station. The drivers in the mountains aren't any less crazy than they are in the city. We went careening around hairpin turns and came to screeching stops in every village along the way to pick up or drop off more people. The nauseating ride was worth it, we had spectacular views of the mountain range once we got to the top. On Thursday, we took a tour through the tea plantations (and watched as women clipped and collected the tea leaves into bags), saw some waterfalls (with very little water since it's not monsoon season yet) and Andy tried toddy (a palm liquor) for the first time! It was a fairly rushed tour, but we got to see a lot.

Apparently our hotel room in Munnar doubled as a spare storage closet. Andy found three water buffalo (?) skulls under our bed. So strange...

We are in Kochin for the weekend before a long train ride to Hampi on Monday. 


  1. I am very happy that both of you are gathering a wide array of experiences and new sensations. I am anxious to hear about them 1st hand when you get home.

  2. I wonder what kind of reaction you would get if you offered to do the driving. It certainly might not be any more terrifying...for you.

    The details and photos are really great. I'm starting to feel a little wonderlust. What wonderful memories you are making. Stay safe. Grandma Wanda

  3. Andy and Paige - Thank you so much for doing this blog about an amazing adventure! I just got the link from your mom, Andy, and was thoroughly immersed in reading all of it. I look forward to hearing more when you return. I am excited to your experiences with permaculture, as I there is expanding interest and adoption of principles here. Also am curious about any contact you have had with Ayervedic practices, as I work to live many of those. Be well! Love and hugs, Jeannine