Discovering the Kerala backwaters has certainly been a highlight of this tour. The Kerala Backwaters are a network of canals, rivers, lakes and lagoons fed by 38 rivers with more than 900 km of waterway. The backwaters are formed by the action of waves which have created low barrier islands across the mouth of rivers. This system which has been compared to the Bayou in the US extends to more than half the State of Kerala. Now clever installation of barriers prevent the intrusion of the brackish water and enables two paddy crops to be cultivated here. The light green paddy fields stretch for miles and lends a beautiful touch to the landscape.
We are soo glad to be here. We arrive at the Alleppey train station after quite a journey. We had taken cars, a packed local train and then transferred to a boat to get here…but it was certainly worth it. The journey on the water was so relaxing after the hot and crowded train ride. Steve and I sit outside to enjoy the light breeze, take photos and wave at the locals. Women from the village wash their clothes and bathe on the banks of these canals and it certainly appears to be the place where you would catch up on the neighbourhood gossip.
This area is famous for its houseboats, constructed from thatching that has been woven from the local coconut trees. Many travellers spend a night on a houseboat but we are here to experience life with a local family.
Our homestay is certainly different to any of my previous experiences. I had been expecting very basic accommodation so I was quite surprised to find our selves in a very comfortable middle class home that was beautifully tiled, clean and comfortable. I had prepared Steve to expect an outside toilet and to sleep on the floor, so we were more than delighted with the comfortable room we were shown too, with a lovely double bed and its own ensuite. Incredible India……..full of surprises!
We sat down to lunch of veg curries and rice and chatted to our family. Our group has been split to various homes and Steve and I are the only visitors here. Our family is lovely and have a son studying in Melbourne so they are pleased to meet us and share stories and photos about him. The food here is very much like Sri Lankan cooking as they too use coconut milk in their curries. We have an enjoyable lunch and catch a cat nap before joining the others for a walk through the village.
It is very relaxing here in the village we are staying at and unlike Varkala, which is quite a westernised little town this feels like a truly authentic Indian experience. As we walk our host explains the benefits of the tropical vegetation we are surrounded by especially the coconut tree, which provides food, thatching, rope, furniture and many others uses for the people here.
Dinner is cooked for us by one of the other families and once again I enjoy the lentils, chicken curry and chappatis that remind me of my mum’s cooking. I wish we were staying an extra night here but unfortunately, we will move on to Cochin tomorrow. We wake up early the next morning to chat to our hosts and enjoy the early morning vibe by the water before saying goodbye to the back waters as we make our way back slowly by boat to the waiting transportation that will take us to Cochin.
Today has never happened, and it doesn't frighten me -Bjork