After three wonderful days in the mountains of Kerala, we returned to the coast, this time to Alappuzha (also called Alleppey, thanks to the Brits). We spent very little time in town, but went straight to our lovely resort north of the city. Kondai Lip was a delightful surprise – it had been recommended by the tour company that arranged for Ansu, our driver, and we knew next to nothing about it before getting there. It continued the theme of peace and quiet that we had so valued in Thekkady, and which we truly needed after all of the bustle of life in Bengaluru.
While they told us about options of things to do (we could get a cab to a nearby beach or take out a paddle boat), all we really wanted was to sit and gaze at the beautiful view out our window. We interrupted the gazing only to read our books or play cards. This afternoon just felt like one long contented sigh. As dusk fell, the mood changed a bit. As we were reclining on the bed reading, we noticed a couple little gnat-like insects . . . and then a couple more . . . and then we looked toward the foot of the bed where the white cover was coated in insects and up toward the ceiling which was equally covered. Suddenly the peace was gone and Melissa called the front desk to tell them about it. They immediately sent two men over who said it was because of the rainy season, but that they would take care of it. Since it was almost time for dinner, we headed for the lovely outdoor dining room a bit early and left them to work some magic.
Dinner was entirely pleasant (if a little bland because we forgot to mention that even though we’re white, we still enjoy a bit of spice), and we were happy to see no evidence of the bug apocalypse when we returned to our room. Peace was restored!
Early the next morning, Melissa got up to watch the sun rise over the pond and backwaters beyond. The gorgeous view was worth the interrupted sleep. A few hours later, it was time to leave Kondai Lip and head for our houseboat. While sad to go, we were full of happy anticipation. Ansu met us back at the car and we drove an hour to a busy little dock area right at the edge of the sidewalk where we waited for our houseboat to arrive. When it pulled up, we were greeted by two young men who ushered us aboard our Bethel Tours boat and gestured for us to head up to the upper deck where two comfortable chairs were waiting for us. And so began 20 hours of watching the world go by as we cruised through the busy, idyllic backwaters of Kerala.
The next morning, our final morning in Kerala, we were greeted by a smiling Ansu who took us straight to the long, beautiful Marari beach where we put our feet in the Indian Ocean for the first time. Surprisingly few people were there, perhaps because we were there a bit early. All those on the beach with us seemed entirely happy about it. We took
a nice walk along the beach, joined by Ansu who seemed perplexed by our lack of destination, but willing to go along. As we walked, we saw fishing boats and birds, and beautiful shells, but mostly we saw the vast blue ocean. With the temperatures and humidity rising, we agreed with Ansu that it was time to move on. He suggested that we spend the day at a big mall in Kochi. While that wouldn’t normally be much of a lure for us, the thought of air conditioning was appealing, and there really wasn’t anything else on our vacation agenda. Besides, we had the distinct feeling we were a bit of a disappointment to Ansu because the entire week we were on a mission to relax and didn’t really let him pick our activities based on what past tour goers enjoyed. We were in such a good mood after all of our relaxing, we even agreed to stop at a “local handicrafts” store that Ansu wanted to take us to. There wasn’t actually anything local about it, other than one small corner of the big 3-story store, and the many people working there were eager to the point of pushiness. We once again suspected that Ansu would get some kind of kick-back for taking us there, although if it was dependent on our purchasing anything, he was out of luck. The store was full of beautiful things, but our bags were full and we weren’t there for shopping. Our afternoon at the mall was largely spent walking in circles around each of the 5 floors, eating some adequate pizza and delicious ice cream, and brainstorming ways to take our restored equilibrium home with us.The flight home was effortless and uneventful – just the way we like it. It was good to be back home to our own bed and our own things, but Kerala will remain in our minds for a long time and we’ll certainly return.