Water taxi along the Waterways of Kerala

Breakfast is becoming a feature in our Kerala home stay. What do readers like to eat when on holidays?

Staying in a home Stay you are given something different each day. In fact all meals we have shared here have been wonderful and I’ve lived not having to choose from a menu. Dai, Georges wife has prepared the most delicious local foods using produce almost entirely from their farm – except for the fish and chicken which have cone from the other local producers. All organic.

Today’s breakfast was puttu. George served us pineapple to start then came to the table with a pan with what looked like rice rolls. He cut a section off and put it on the plate then squashed it down. Then he peeled two tiny bananas and mashed it in and mixed it round before topping it with a palm sugar syrup. Quite a treat. Along with coffee roasted from the coffee trees on his organic farm.

We set off along the lane way beside the small river. We had a 40 min walk and three bridges to cross to get to the local ferry.

It was a lovely shaded walk with houses dotted along the way. All different coloured houses.

The houses here are being redone after the devastating floods experienced last year. All the houses along the river were flooded including George’s homestay. It’s had an effect on tourism in the area. George said it’s been slow for the tourists to return.

I can reassure you all that it’s now safe to come here. It all being refreshed and looks good. So if you’re thinking of a holiday in this area of Kerala please come. The people are lovely. It’s clean and the food is great.

As we travelled along the river we saw people on their way to work and children off to school. The uniforms are neat and clean and the girls have big white bows in their hair. Little girls seem to have short hair and as they grow so does their hair. And they plait it finishing each plait with a white bow.

We spotted flocks of ducks all paddling away and glided past rice fields almost ready for harvest. We noticed many of the house boats used by tourists for a few days on the waterways. So many empty ones. The lack of tourists is hurting this area.

The locals on the ferry were friendly and like asking us questions always starting with our names and where we live.

The 1hr 45 min trip down cost us 65 rupee. The equivalent to $A1.30 for all 5 of us. Unfortunately Marlene has an upset stomach today. Hope it wasn’t the fish!

The journey ended near Muhamma on the Great Lake so we got off the boat for a walk and found another St George Church. He’s a favourite saint around here. We’ve spotted many St George , St Anthony and St Joseph churches and schools.

After the boat refueled we reboarded for the trip home. I’m having time to take photos and write up my blog.

Only problem is after last nights rain the internet at George’s place is down. So I have several posts to upload!

We arrived home for lunch. Today delivered by George to our terrace. Dosa with potato curry filling. Later today after the last three have their massages we made another attempt to go to the Temple.

After an early dinner – this time a delicious chicken curry, we boarded the two tuk tuks from last night. We had these two guys last night so they greeted us like old friends and we set off in the evening light to the Temple 15 km away. It felt strange being back in the busyness of a small city after the quietness of George’s village.

We arrived at the Temple with its big car park in front. It’s festival time and everyone was out ready to enjoy it. The car park was abuzz with flashing lights and stalls not unlike those at sideshow alley at the Ekka of a fairground. There were balloons, lights, clackers and other junky items being bought by locals and Indians from regions surrounding this area.

We left our shoes in the tuk in preparation for entering the temple. But I’ve now learnt that the ground can be hard and pebbly so decided to wear some socks which I would have to throw out later. I noticed George also wore his socks!

We made our way through the crowds stopping to admire the twirling whirlwinds – men with huge tree like structures on their heads turning around so fast I’m surprised they could stand up!

We entered the temple – unlike any we have seen in the Tamil Nadu area and were immediately awe struck. There in a line were 6 enormous elephants decorated with headdresses with 3 men sitting atop them. They were chained and stood facing men with big fire sticks. The noise was incredible. The elephants looked happy enough – especially as they were constantly being fed palm fronds but one wonders how they are really feeling about this circus going on around them. We watched, totally fascinated, before taking a walk around the temple.

It’s quite a different feel. People are sitting on the steps dressed in their best saris and dhotis – all chatting.

An hour or so of people and elephant watching was enough so we headed back to George’s peaceful farm.

Meandering down a Kerala River

George and his wife Dai live in the house at the front of the garden block , opposite the river and the 4 homestay rooms are towards the back looking past hammocks slung in trees over to green and golden rice paddies.

From the WebSite:

http://www.gkhomestay-kumarakom.com

‘Situated on the bank of river Meenachil in Aymanam, it is just 3 kilometres from the huge Vembanad lake and bird sanctuary. The village is an unbelievably beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy (rice) fields and coconut groves interspersed with enchanting water ways and canals adorned with spices and medicinal plants. It is an ideal place to explore Kerala’s traditions, real village life and to stay for a period in a calm and quiet pollution free zone. The village is decorated with ancient Christian churches, Hindu temples, country and snake boats. These snake boats can carry more than 100 rowers at a time. A boat journey through the back waters will be an unforgettable event.

Our rooms are big, simply but well furnished with good basic bathrooms, air con and fans, a fridge, hairdryer! lots of water, and a verandah with fans for relaxing. ‘

Our dinner in the main house was cooked by his lovely wife Di and served by George. Organic home cooking. A vegetarian curry with eggs and potatoes. Delicious. Followed by spiced carrot cake.

His daughter is visiting from Bangalore with her 3 month old baby girl. She’s very sweet and all the Grandmothers wanted a nurse!

George speaks very good English. He worked for 17 years in Oman – for the Sultan ! He has many good stories to tell.

We walked back down the drive to our 4 rooms overlooking the rice padi and had a quiet sleep. This time I have a room on my own and it’s rather nice to spread out.

We got up early in the cool of the morning for a trip in a large canoe down the river at our doorstep.

Our boat man is 75 and took a very leisurely pace along the cool calm river so we could observe the village life.

It’s hard to describe how beautiful and peaceful it was. The bird life is wonderful, the people bathing and washing clothes all waved in a friendly way greeting us with a “how are you” as we passed. We glided past several Catholic churches where the singing was was tuneful and mesmerising.

We saw families washing together, little groups of women in bright coloured saris walking under the shade of the trees.

We glided under bridges waving to the children playing or riding bikes.

The water is covered in places with a water weed and apparently there are river snakes though we didn’t see any.

At one point we stopped and got out to look at what they call a ‘snake boat’. It’s long and decorated and has seats 60. Twice a year at rice harvest there is a race along the river. Four boats compete and the whole village participate. Indians love a festival.

We arrived back at a George’s house for breakfast. Di had made us banana coconut pancakes with a few spices making it a delicious treat.

Then it was our washing day. Just like the village people we washed in buckets (not on stones in the river ) and hung out clothes around the garden – from trees, hammocks and a live slung under the eaves.

We chatted and sorted photos and read up on where we’ll be going next. A late but light lunch was brought to us by George. It was a vegetable curry with idly. Perfect.

Later in the afternoon after a walk it was massage time. I was first and went into the bathroom area of the main house. A lovely lady in a coloured sari was waiting for me. She was not very tall but very sturdy and strong. It was to be a Ayurveda massage with special oils.

All clothes off and into chair where my head and face were massaged first. My hair was pasted with oil and I received the most gorgeous face massage. And head!

Then onto a rather high narrow table covered in a brown coloured plastic and the bathing in Ayurveda oils started. It was heavenly.

But the end of it I felt like a baby being nurtured. It was wonderful.

Getting off the table felt like a fish sliding off a river back and

I slid into the shower room and was given a big bucket of hot water with a little bucket to dip in and tip all over myself.

I floated back to the room for a cup of herbal tea and a lie down.

Linda followed me and had the same expression on her face when she returned an hour later.

George popped by the give us the plans for our evening visit to a temple for a special festival involving elephants. How could we say no!

We planned on leaving by tuk tuk at 6.45.

He also walked us around the garden pointing out the cashew tree and explained how they are harvested and toasted. Then onto the story of this rice padi. He has about an acre which is green and lush and will be harvested in 2 weeks. He wanted to dry it out so will start draining the field tomorrow. Unfortunately for George it looks like rain tonight.

And so it was. As we set off in the tuk tuk it started bucketing down. We drove along exposed to the rain on both open sides of the tuk and after 10 mins headed back home.

Not temple or elephants tonight so an earlier dinner. Fresh caught lake fish in a tomato curry sauce. Amazing flavours. And no one has had an upset stomach.

Another quiet night awaits.