So we decided to go for it and spend a few days on a houseboat gliding through the backwater canals of Kerala. We were hesitant because it was so expensive but vacation is no time to be a chicken-shit!
And it was totally worth it! We had our own personal chef (who even let me in the kitchen once or twice to watch) a captain, and an engineer who were all "at our service".
I don't think I'll ever tire of the view of Palm trees and rice paddies. India can be really intense! Trash, noise, chaos, poverty; all very much in your face. The backwaters were a blissful break from all that can be stressful about India.
The boat itself was a converted rice barge called "ketuvallam" and was a very smooth ride. 15 years ago these boats were the workhorses of the canals carrying rice, coconuts, and cashews from the villages to the ports for trade. now they mostly carry tourists. They only first started using machines to harvest rice here 3 years ago.
Something about Kerala, that we've witnessed everywhere since Munnar, is that they burn their trash. There is a bit less trash on the ground (and in the water) here than other places in India, but every couple hundred yards on any given street there is a small garbage fire. Plastic and all! It's actually horrific. And terrible to breathe. We crossed a few large lakes on the boat, and the fresh air was so welcome!
We were sad to leave the peace and solitude of the boat. And we became friends with the crew. Babu, the captain, took us to meet his family on Monroe Island. His daughter in law made us tapioca root with a chutney so spicy it burned my mouth like a drink that's too hot. Andy loved it! Babu's son is a metal roofer :-)
But all good things must come to an end. We disembarked at Kollam, and boarded the train North for Cochin. It's very touristy here (which is why I have wifi) and we are making our way to the Wayanad district in persuit of wild elephants! We will never forget the amazing beauty of life on the Keralan backwaters!
Alison B. Sweeney
Why We Travel?