Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Journey to Kerala and Fort Kochi

It was nearing the end of our trip and I was eager to see as much as we possibly could. I'd heard about the beauty of Kerala and its backwaters from so many people both on the internet and in person. I knew I didn't want to miss it. The only problem was that we were 2,725 kilometers away. That equates to a 42 hour train ride. Forty. Two.

Oh, and the first 23 hours were spent next to an insane person. Really. I'm not kidding. There was a good sized man sitting in our area who would randomly start yelling, grabbing people walking by, hitting his companions, and other unintelligible antics. He hit me while I was sleeping in the middle of the night. It was a scary situation. Every time he would have an episode, a bunch of guys would hold him down, talk softly to him, and give him some kind of medicine out of a tiny brown bottle. Eventually, we were able to switch with some people and got away from them and we were very grateful for the move.

We arrived in Cochin in the wee hours of the morning, found a place to stay, showered, and passed out for a couple of hours. The next day we were itching to stretch our legs and explore the city after being so cooped up for two days on the train. I can't remember why but for some reason that day no one brought their cameras along with them. It was one of those days where you are incredibly in the moment and free.

We decided to take a ferry over to the Fort and after waiting in a hectic line, we finally secured tickets and made it across the bay. It was very sunny and humid but with a breeze that could make you sing. We spent a lot of time walking around under the big trees by the water looking at all the goodies for sale. There were women sitting on blankets selling handmade jewelry while their little ones ran around barefoot and dirty. There were people selling all the same things we had seen over and over again for tourists to buy: marble coasters and elephants, little statues of Ganesha, wooden boxes, brightly colored scarfs, and baggy hippie pants. Of course, there were also carts selling fruit, candy, peanuts, and other portable snacks.

We saw some six feet tall portraits drawn in charcoal on the side of a dusty cream colored building. They were spectacular. We were all blown away not only by how beautiful they were, but how temporary they were. The monsoon season was just a few months away and then they would be gone. I felt lucky to have seen them. 

We stopped at a plain but somehow elegant cafe in the courtyard of some old building. We sat outside under the veranda where we could see a sliver of the sea through a double doorway. The fans above us stopped every once in a while when the power went out. We ordered fancy sandwiches and coffees while playing card games. It all felt very classy and relaxing, even when a little troupe of goats passed through to nibble on the grass.

We walked down to the beach and saw some people swimming in the water with their clothes on. We talked about how surprising it would be to everyone around us if we put out a towel and began sunbathing in a bikini on the sand. Things are so different.

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