Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The South has not been kind

The night before we departed Mumbai we were sitting in a tuk tuk (see photo)

We were approached by a young beggar girl selling balloons. All of the books suggest that before coming to India you should decide on how you want to handle the begging (ie to give or not to give).  We did give the odd time and when we did it often not enough and they were not timid in telling you so or following you still and asking for more.  And to be honest it gets to you after a period of time.  At this point in time I was a wee bit irritated.  As we were driving away I looked at the girl who was now joined by her young brother and they were clearly not happy we did not buy the balloons.  The look her brother gave was chilling. And a few times over the course of the next few days I wondered if we had somehow been cursed.  Things were not going as planned. The energy had clearly shifted.

Houseboating on the backwaters of India has become the thing to do and others who have tried have highly recommended this. 

Because of the lack of sleep we thought best to head down to the docks and view the boats rather than book sight unseen to ensure the beds were decent.  Here's a rough idea of what the docks look like with the boats lined up - sometimes three to four boats deep.

So we spent a good couple of hours hopping from boat to boat in 30 degree weather and had it narrowed to one that was only about a month old and had a nice upper deck where views of the impending river would be quite beautiful. Problem was - so said the tour operator -  that the boat was awaiting inspection that afternoon that not surprisingly in India - may or may not happen. This did not sit well with me. My intuition was telling me that this was not right.  However left it at that....for now....and went off in search of other boats.  Settled on this one........

after meeting the owner and getting him to agree to accompany us on the two night backwater tour.  Then we get a call - the other boat has become available and so we make our way over to have a second look only to see that my concern mentioned above was for good reason.  The boat had been rented by a couple already and the tour operator had somehow managed to convince them to move to another boat.  There was no inspection - we had been played.  This did not sit well with us and so we passed on the boat and went back to the other.  At 12 noon the boats depart.  Ours would not start.  Something wrong with the starter. So we waited and I took pictures of all the other boats leaving on their journey's.  Everyone looked so happy and excited as they were leaving and truthfully it was cool to see them embarking. 

Finally at about 4pm we were set to go - three staff on board.  Cook, driver and owner in tow.  Spent a beautiful afternoon sitting in the sun on the sun deck snapping photos and happily waiving to other boaters and natives on the shore.

Most beautiful sunset. 

The boat docked for the night at 6:30pm and after an authentic Keralan dinner with red snapper we watched old music videos and drank some KINGFISHER beer.  At about 9:30 pm it was time to turn in.  When I turned the light on in the bedroom I noticed a large looking bug sitting in the wall above the head of the bed.  After some discussion it came out that it was a cockroach.   It was about the size of a baby cucumber. The owner - Abbey - 'got rid' of it over the side of the boat and said that the bedroom door had been left open and it 'flew' in there from a nearby boat.  I knew sleep would be very difficult that night and planned to stay in the room with the lights on.  Bent over to take my pj's out of my bag and spotted yet another cockroach of the same size.  This time I pretty near lost it.  Abby was unable to catch it.  So moved to the next bedroom and sat up all night watching with the lights on.  Had pretty much made up my mind to turn the boat around the next am but before having to tell the owner it turned out the boat would not start in the am and so after some rearranging of plans we made our exit and headed to Kovalam to begin the Ayurvedic and yoga retreat early. 

One more blog to post tomorrow.

Love Tammy

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