• Day20

    Kerala Backwaters

    December 24, 2018 in India ⋅ ☁️ 28 °C

    We drove from the highlands of Thekkady to the west coast of Kerala on the morning of the 23rd. At the first stop I realized that I'd left my camera in the room at the hotel. Arrgh! We drove through coffee, then tea, then rubber plantations as we descended. Mid-morning we arrived at a dock next to the sprawling, slow moving Pampa river. We boarded a water taxi for a ride some 45 minutes downstream to our riverside homestay.

    The ride was pleasant, but a bit noisy. It felt something like the African Queen as the diesel engine kachunked along. We passed some riverside homes. The tree house in the photo below really stood out. I'm sure that home did well during the torrential rains and flooding of the last monsoon.

    We passed many houseboats along the way. Our guide Veejay said that "there are two places to go in India, the Taj and the Kerala Backwaters." Tourism is down, so many were lying idle. The boats that we saw working were mostly engaged by Indian families. They are built on traditional hulls with thatched roofs and hobbit like windows. Many look like something out of a Miyazaki movie, except for the aircon units hanging off of the back.

    By mid-afternoon we'd reached Ayana's Pampatheeram Homestay. Very pleasant place built along a dike and right on the river backing up to rice fields. The owner took us on a long walk explaining the history of the place and pointing out native plants along the way. Coconut played a big part in the discussion. At one point he showed us how to weave some rope from the frayed husk of a coconut. He gave Sophie a homework assignment to practice spinning the husk. A video can be seen here:
    After a short walk upstream we were met by a traditional canoe. We clambered aboard and set off downstream back to our digs. Very quiet and very pleasant time with the helmsman poling his way along the shore.

    Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. We'll be in Kochi through Christmas before catching our flight to Mumbai for the great wedding event.
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