Charles had us up early again, this time to meet with his Cochin motorcycle posse. These fine young men all had jobs to go to, but they agreed to meet us at 6:45am and take us on a ride through the city. The temperature was still reasonable and there was little traffic, so the ride was not as exciting as the ones we had in Madurai, but much more comfortable. The men all spoke English well and told us a bit about themselves and the scenery we rode past. we stopped at a temple that is so strictly run, non Hindus are not allowed past the front gate. They don't want us bringing in meat cooties.
Then we went to the ferry terminal and boarded a ship that had us remembering all the news stories we have read about boats sinking and people drowning in this part of the world. But we putt putted along and eventually found ourselves in the modern part of Cochin. We followed Charles through another produce market. They are still fascinating. The enclosed spice section was so pungent I started sneezing and my eyes watered. I can't get over how much manual labor is still the norm here. Huge loads of produce were unloaded by men who carried it on their heads to the wholesaler. Wheel barrows heaped with bananas were pushed by thin old men who looked half the weight of their load. All sales transactions are logged on paper. Purchases are weighed on balance scales using weights. We haven't just returned to my youth; we've returned to before we were born.
For me the heat and humidity were close to unbearable, but all I was doing was strolling along. We spied some modern looking malls across the street and rushed inside, only to find that they were not air conditioned either. Charles pointed out some nice clothing shops, but we are on shopping hiatus. We have our first domestic flight tomorrow and left home with more weight in our suitcases than is allowed, so we want to see how strictly the rules are enforced. We have a total of four domestic flights on this trip and excess baggage charges could add up.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the dobhi (laundry) where we had dropped off our clothes yesterday to be pounded on rocks and pressed with 16 pound charcoal irons. For eight pieces of clothing we paid $4 and they have never been as clean and pressed. I think they even ironed my nightgown.
In the evening we took a sunset cruise of Cochin harbor. On board were two male classical dancers who let us watch them put on their make up and costumes. The make up was theatrical and over the top and the costumes were layer upon layer of glitz and color. They were accompanied by a drummer, mini cymbals, and a chanting singer. Some of the dance moves were not really dance moves at all. Rather they involved positions of the eyes and the hands. The dance, a small portion of an epic that takes hours and hours to perform, involved the male dancer beheading the one that looked like a female (played by a man). It was fun to see, but half an hour was enough. As we sailed back to the dock the sunset looked like it was setting into the Chinese fishing nets. It was a beautiful evening topped off by dinner in a seafood restaurant. The prawns here are as big as some lobsters we've had and we could taste how fresh they were.