9.14.10 - 9.21.10 87 °F
I met a girl in Charleston this past spring who had just travelled to India and she went on and on about something she called the “Indian head wobble,” I was intrigued but quickly forgot about it. Now, about 3 weeks into our trip I can agree that the head wobble is serious around here! The head wobble always comes after you ask an Indian a question. For example, “is it okay to sit here?” the wobble meaning yes could be best described as a balloon wobbling from the bottom as it slips through your fingers and floats up to the sky. A question like, “is the temple that way?” might receive the “unsure” wobble which is a combination of the side to side wobble and a nod. We rarely get a wobble that suggests a resounding “no” but the closest would probably be after offering a bargaining price that seems too low. This response is usually the side to side wobble a bit up tempo accompanied by a chuckle meaning “are you kidding?” We have yet to fully grasp what wobble means what although I feel we’re getting better. In fact, we are so consumed with figuring out that Swhite said out of no where as we were trying to fall asleep and not talking, “I think that wobble from the women on the bus did mean that she wanted my seat…darn.”
Now an update on our current locale: Getting to where we are now from Mysore was quite possibly the most outrageous bus ride yet. The driver zoomed like a bat outta hell down a seemingly endless slope dodging potholes, tailgating within a foot of the vehicle in front of him all the while laying on his horn. Absolutely unnecessary and terrifying to be perfectly honest (sorry Mom, but it’s true!) We were slightly relieved when we noticed all the locals seemed nervous too and the Indian man next to Melanie verified that this driver was indeed mad. But we survived and went on to have a great week in Fort Kochi.
We have been in Fort Kochi in the Southern State of Kerala for the past week. It’s a quaint little island town on the Malabar Coast. This area is known for its backwaters and tea/spice plantations. The backwaters are similar to the Florida everglades I believe and one of the major bragging points for the locals. The three of us decided to do a 7 hour tour through the backwaters on a long 30 foot-ish house boat looking vessel. Our guide was crazy and adorable as he explained always with dramatic pausing and repetition about the two products being made along the river. We stopped for lunch, took a treacherous ride around a smaller island in a tiny, tippy canoe, ate spicy food on banana leaves, and then made our way slowly back to where we started. It was a beautiful trip, but we were happy we didn’t pay lots more to do the overnight.
Melanie ditched us on Thursday and Sarah and I went to the beach called Chennai on the island north of where we are staying. As the only westerners in sight we were nervous to shed our clothes and get into the ocean. We were glad we did because the water felt great since it was the hottest day yet. We intentionally chose a spot where no other Indians were hanging out because our glowing skin would be quite the spectacle. It didn’t take long for a small crowd of about 8-10 male passersby to stop and wait for us to get out. We stayed with only our heads above water for about 25 minutes extra until the crowd dispersed and then made a break for our clothes. No harm done.
Over the weekend Sarah and I decided to do an overnight to a small town called Munnar in the mountains. From the flyer, the pictures reminded us a bit of Ireland with the lush, green, rolling hills. The ride up was steep and curvy the warning sides on the road had a legit “Z” instead of a cautious “S” squiggle arrow. We stopped to see 3 baby elephants and 2 enormous adult elephants get their bath in the river on the way to the mountain. It was so cool! (pics later)
Our homestay in Munnar was a sweet little bright blue building right smack in the middle of the mountain. Our host was great and he made some pretty bomb Keralan food. The view was absolutely stunning! It was a pretty foggy day so the pictures don’t really do the place any justice and I am convinced anyone who visits would agree. Once there, we took a tour of the tea museum and learned about how the area had been developed into the successful, morally upstanding tea hub it is today and has been since the early 19th century. Day two was spent visiting various viewpoints, dams and waterfalls in the area. At one point we decided we could easily be standing on the side of the road on I-84 looking at the Columbia River in Oregon.
Today, our last day in Fort Kochi we decided to take advantage of the cheap spa treatments and got manicures, pedicures and our eyebrows done for less than $6 each! Something I could get used to for sure! Afterward we rented rusty, old, Ladybird bicycles and rode to the other town on the island called Mattancherry to visit the 400 year old synagogue. On the way back we rode through a school zone where we quickly attracted a gang of middle school boys in their uniforms eager to race and impress us with their wheelies.
After a super relaxing week we feel set and excited to take on Northern India over the next month. It’s supposed to be louder, brighter, more conservative and crazier all around so it should be interesting. Melanie has the computer so look out for more pictures once the trio reunites!