A few of the crew and occupants of other houseboats used the morning as an excuse to jump into the canal to swim–as good a way as any, I suppose, to have your morning bath. We were happy to take our own showers in our private bathrooms on the boat.
After a fairly sultry night–only overhead fans were working, not the much celebrated A/C–we awoke to another beautiful day. After breakfast, we were ready to continue our journey. Throughout the day, we passed by other houseboats, but thankfully not too many, although we can see overcrowdedness as a potential problem in the future. We’d dutifully cheer and wave, all smiles as we passed by, like old high school buddies from years ago.
Our feet hadn’t touched solid ground for nearly 24 hours, so our crew promised that sometime during the day, perhaps when we stopped for the night, we’d have time for a brief stroll along the embankment. I must confess I was not one looking forward to a walk as I figured there was surely a root somewhere waiting to grab me by the ankle–or a snake possibly lying in wait. Memories of stepping into black space and pitching forward into a drainage ditch in Goa a few days before were all too fresh in my mind.
As noted in the previous post, Kerala’s backwaters are a maze of winding rivers, canals and lakes that stretch for miles and miles through village after village, where we were treated all day long to vignettes of the daily lives of village folks living along the shore. I wondered if they got tired of tourists drifting by taking their pictures. Hubby’s brother Raj took a turn steering, otherwise the five of us were content to do nothing but chat and read and take in the views, except–of course–when the dinner bell rang. Our only duty was to relax and enjoy. In no particular order, these picture thumbnails give a fairly interpretive view of our day and a half journey. Each may be made larger by clicking on each, should you desire a bit more detail.
Although we passed many commercial establishments throughout the day, the cook was able to purchase the freshest catch of the day right off the side of the houseboat. The vessel to cook’s left in the photo below is a special pot, a type of steamer for making Iddli. Do have a closer look at the stove. Every Indian cook whose kitchen I’ve visited in India all turned out fabulous gourmet dinners using this simple stove. Quite amazing when you think about it, especially compared to the simple fare I turned out on my fancy four-burner stove and oven with the grill in the center. And look how clean everything looks! I thought you’d enjoy seeing India’s answer to disposable plates. They can also be re-used by washing them as you would a piece of china.
While we drifted through, I was thinking how beautiful the houses looked, all different colors of the rainbow and then some. They would look garish in most places but here they were luscious. There was even a beautiful pink church. Maybe it’s the coconut palms that make everything look stunning.
India’s southern states are known as the country’s rice bowl. Thus Kerala’s backwaters are surrounded by miles and miles of paddy fields at lower levels than the canals. If I hadn’t noticed it before, it certainly became obvious after these workers–most of them women–arrived before mid-day in one of the commercial boats wearing umbrella hats to work in the rice paddies. As the sun rose higher and higher, it was obvious why those hats were so popular. By early afternoon it was too hot and everyone loaded up on the boats and left again.
Despite the busy life along the canal, most of the sounds we heard were domestic–the smack of a sari being washed against a stone, delighted shrieks of splashing children, pots and pans being rinsed. Aquatic life abounded:
frogs and mudskippers, water birds such as terns, kingfishers, darters and cormorants, and animals such as otters (though we didn’t see one) and turtles live in and alongside the backwaters.
And that concludes our houseboat cruise along Kerala’s backwaters. In the next post, we’ll be arriving at the Eastend Lake Song Resort on the banks of Lake Vembanad, where ML and I will experience our very first Ayurvedic Massage. I hope you won’t want to miss it.