|Bus up the coast was short and sweet, altho I ended up standing most of the way but for just an hour ride it was easy. Off bus to go to Kochi Fort...tuk tuk dropped us off in the midst of the main tourist area. This is more to our liking, much more laid back, walkable even tho very very touristed...after checking several guesthouses/hotels we found Park Hotel where we had a choice of 400 r. (no windows, but wide dbl bed) or 600 r. (window/balcony and narrow dbl bed). We took the 600 r. option and also signed up for the river tour tomor, cheaper - 550 r. - and these folks seem more friendly, helpful. Took a walk around the fort area and along the coast. Saw the Chinese legacy of pole fishing, but not in action. Ended up in restaurant on top of our hotel and got eaten by mosquitoes - bad choice, ha!
Prita our guide
Picked up at the hotel at 8, ride half way to Kottayam (where we caught the ferry across two days before), they weren't quite ready for us so didn't push off until 9:45 and the boat was motorized. Stopped at a coir coop - they take the green husks from coconuts, soak them for 6 months and then run them thru a shredder to get the fiber. This they make into ropes and sell this to manufacturers who make mats, rugs, fabric etc. It is the same kind made in Sri Lanka which is also used for eco matting in restoration work, erosion control, esp in riparian areas. Plants can grow up thru it and the matting just decomposes. Coop is drawn from village of 120 indiv, w/ 12 women working making the rope. Coconut harvest is every 2 months. In the lake district the men dig sand in specified areas since the sand has become quite valuable. A boat load of sand which takes 3 men 3-4 hours to dig gets them 3-4000 r.(up to $80 US). The lake is mostly 5 meter deep and the men also fish and dig w/ a pole & basket attached for mussels...the meat sold in the marketplace, the shells sold and ground into powder to make calcium carbonate/hydroxide for white wash - lime. Most of the men working on the lake are poling or paddling their boats.
Stopped for a Kerala lunch - rice, chutney, mix veg, cabbage, & sweet rice pudding. Then another poled boat ride thru narrower channels to a spice village: pepper vine, coffee bean, cinnamon, nutmeg/mace/chutney, bay leaf, & neem. Also learned that sandalwood tree is the only root parasitic plant.
Another hour and half back to town and directly to Kathakali repertory - traditional art form. The presentations are stories from Hindu mythology & puranas. Using traditional drums, cymbals & song, the stories are acted in dance form using very specific body, face, leg & hand movements to interpret the story. The make up used is also a major part of the performance taking an hour to apply(audience is present to see it done). These are tourist oriented since they last only 2 1/2 hrs. Once only conducted for the royalty and requiring 8-10 hours nighttime performances, the art form nearly disappeared. Then Mahakan Vallathol Narayana Menan, one of Kerala's most famous poets, in 1930 formed a school to instruct students on the whole range of this art form, typically requiring 8-10 yrs of schooling.
Went to brfst and got on internet instead...long story short, it was a good connection so instead of moving on today we will take the opportunity to look into air fares, do journal stuff, and generally take advantage of a good situation here, moving on to Munnar tomor.