Monday, June 6, 2011

Week Twenty-Four Daily Journal

Friday, March 11
Goa, India

Russ and Jesse went to yoga in the morning and then the three of us had an omelet at the roadside stand near the gas station.  Then we worked out and hung by the pool.  We went to a shack restaurant in Anjuna for sunsetters with a couple from the hotel; then Russ went to the casino and the rest of us went to Thalassa for dinnere.

Saturday, March 12
Goa, India

We all went to yoga this morning- Dave's first class ever was a level 2/3 vinyassa flow class!  Afterwards we had brunch at German Bakery, did a little shopping and went to the supermarket to stock up for the train ride.  We spent the rest of the day by the pool and then headed out for our overnight AC2 sleeper train to Cochin.  It was only an hour late!

Sunday, March 13
Cochin, India

We arrived in Cochin (aka Kochi) at around 10am and Babbu Joseph, our home stay host, was there to pick us up (or as they like to say in India, to pick us).  He brought us back to the home he shares with his wife, Shaheeta and daughter, Anna, about 10k south of Ernakalum (the mainland part of the city).  They had coconut pancakes with fried bananas waiting for us - yum!  After resting and cleaning up Babbu drove us to Fort Cochin.  We had lunch at Dal Roti (delicious kathi roll) and walked around, visiting St Francis Church, the Dutch cemetery and the waterfront, where we got a Chinese fishing net demonstration and perused the fresh (?) fish for sale.  Things got really crowded as sunset approached and whole families came out for Sunday evening family time, all dressed up.  After the sun went down we took a taxi back to the guesthouse (he overcharged us, drove incredibly slowly, and yelled at us when he dropped us off) and had dinner there - fish curry, cauliflower and parathas.  That night we realized that a non-AC room in 95 degree heat was not entirely pleasant.  We were to take cold showers twice a day just to cool down.

Monday, March 14
Cochin, India

The line for ferry tickets
After breakfast Babbu dropped us off at an ayuverdic hospital, where we got massages.  It was, uh, interesting.  Then we took a quick rickshaw to heritage house for lunch, and then another rickshaw to the ferry dock.  The ferry ticket office only starts selling ferry tickets a few minutes before the ferry departs, which makes no sense given the huge lines at the ticket window.  We took the ferry to Mattancherry, the old Jewish area.  We visited the Dutch Palace, which houses a museum, and then walked through Jew Town.  See post, Fort Cochin: Sooo Jewy. We headed down Jew Street (used to be lined with Jewish merchants; now they're Kashmiris) and to the Pardesi Synagogue.  Unfortunately they were using a sanding machine so it wasn't especially pleasant.  We peeked in at the Jewish cemetery and then walked through town to go to a Jain temple, but we weren't allowed in.  We took the ferry back from Fort Cochin and Babbu picked us up and whisked us away to the barbershop where Dave and Russ went totally bald.  Very hard for me to watch that.  Then back home for a dinner of mussels, string beans and okra (which they call lady fingers here).

Tuesday, March 15
Cochin, India

I attempt to eat curry and rice with my hand, Indian style
After breakfast we headed into town and to a crappy Internet cafe.  I also managed to get my jeans tailored.  We had a delicious banana leaf veg sadya (thali) lunch at Subhishka and then took the bus up to Marine Drive where we searched forever for an Internet cafe and eventually found a really hot one without AC.  We parked ourselves there for a few hours.  Then we went to the Cochin Cultural Center to watch a Kathikali dance performance.  See post, Katha-whatti?  Babbu picked us up and we had fish curry back at the house for dinner.

Wednesday, March 16
Munnar, India

Today we took a long, 5+ hour bus ride to Munnar.  The bus had no a/c, horrible suspension and barreled around the winding mountain roads.  As we got higher though, the air got cooler.  It was wonderful.  We got to Munnar in the early afternoon and took a  rickshaw to Pavithram homestay in the nearby town of Devikulam.  The owner Rajesh and his wife are both lawyers and we had two nice and cool rooms, no AC needed!  We headed over to the tea plantation that is right behind the house and spent some time walking around and admiring the beautiful scenery.  See post, Magnificant Munnar.  We had dinner at the guesthouse that night.

Thursday, March 17
Munnar, India

Honey salesman
After breakfast we took our hired car and driver (his name was long and difficult, so we called him BK, which seemed to be his initials) to the Tata Tea Museum.  The tea plantation was started by the British and taken over by Tata (a rich Indian industrialist).  When tea prices plummeted and Tata wanted out, the workers bought into the company.  We watched a video about the plantation that was the most ridiculous propaganda - think scene after scene of happy workers, smiling children, free dental care, etc.  Next we got a tour of the tea processing facilities (not the real ones, just the tourist demonstration ones) and an explanation of the tea making process.  We did a tea tasting with two Danish girls that was led by the apprentice tea taster.  It was interesting but couldn't compete with a wine tasting.  Next we drove up to Top Station, which was okay.  We walked down a long path and then paid 15 rupees to continue farther to a scenic outlook.  We took some photos with various Indian honeymooners before heading back to the car and home.  On the way we made some mediocre stops - at a dam, at a place offering elephant rides (the elephant looked so sad we couldn't do it), and at a man selling fresh honey on the side of the road, under a giant tree full of huge bees nests.  We had dinner at the guesthouse again.  "small dinner.  Very small dinner," Rajesh said.  And indeed it was.  Good thing we weren't too hungry.

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