Monday, November 7, 2011

November 5, 2011 – Cruising Kerala Backwater

We got up before 7 and had tea on our boat. One of the most enjoyable things in India is the tea which always revives you. You can have it black or with milk and can add sugar if you like. The milk tends to be water buffalo milk and is quite creamy. Then we climbed over onto the big boat for a true Indian breakfast of dosas and curry. The dosas were almost like crepes – but made of rice and lentil flour. Very good – but somewhat lacking in fibre. Lack of fibre is a bit of a problem for foreign tourists. Presumably it is in the regular Indian diet – but not necessarily in the tourist diet. I have tried to make up by taking a fibre supplement - but I miss my bran buds and will enjoy getting home to a big bowl of buds in the morning plus at least 2 weeks of 10 k walks. It's not that I want to go home – it's just that I miss my buds and I need more exercise than we are getting. Some of the other Road Scholars were saying yesterday that they had had enough. Most of them are not very fit and some are in the 80s so the small amount of walking (the elder Hostel Shuffle) that we do suits them fine.

After breakfast we cruised on the big boat. The Kerala Backwaters are becoming a big tourist attraction. Apparently there are about 600 tour boats similar to ours and on our ruse we met quite a number of them. Cruising in the backwaters reminds me a lot of our trip on the canals in England – but here the river is usually much wider, there are palm trees everywhere and it is very hot and humid. You just stream with sweat all day long – which is better than freezing with AC. It is so beautiful that it's hard to believe it is real. In the river there are also the local people's wooden canoes - plus foot ferries to take people back and forth across the river or take them to other communities on the river.

We stopped at a small village and walked along the dikes to see what it was like. Some of the houses were very nice but some were a bit rugged looking. While some houses are built of bricks or cememnt block, others are built of a very hard mud cut into bricklike blocks. The mud does not dissolve in the water and sometimes the exterior is plastered and painted bright colours – lime green, mauve, etc. There are lots of chickens around – plus the occasional cow, dog, caged parrot and even turkeys. There was no rain but a lot of puddles on the paths. We walked over small bridges and along canals choked with beautiful but unwanted water hyacinths. It was Saturday so kids were hanging out in canoes and waving to the tourists.

We had a really good lunch – Kerala style. There was lots of spice in the food and it was delicious. I used to think that real Indian food was extremely spicy – but now think that it is about the same as what we get at Indian restaurants in Canada. The food they describe as very spicey tastes just great to me. But some of the Road Scholars really don't like any spice at all. No wonder they are dreaming about mashed potatoes and looking forward to hamburgers. Indian food made without spices for tourists is awful.

After lunch we cruised some more and then went to a small shipyard where they are building and repairing the tour boats. Then it was time to head back to our overnight destination. We chugged along smoothly and quietly chatting with Joan and our guide about this and that. At one point we crused right throught he middle of a gigantic herd of ducks. These ducks are all tame and cannot fly away – so swim along in huge groups – being herded by 2 canoes. There was quite a stong breeze and when we came to a smallesh bridge, the wind kept blowing us to the side so we could not get through no matter how hard the captain tried to push the boat through with a long stout bamboo pole. After a few tries, we turned around and went a different route. We sat on the top deakc enjoying the moonlight, gentle breezes and watching the palm trees and occasional big fruit bat fly by. It was magical.

We finished the evening with a nice dinner including giant prawns from the Backwaters and some good spicey chicken. Now our blog is caught up and we should be able to post it tomorrow in Cochine.

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