Sarah's Gap Year travel blog

Preparing the coconut shell

Making the coconut oil

Patty and me doing yoga

Beautiful Kannur


Monday was a typical day: kalari, medicine man, and yoga. The only difference was that the new volunteer showed up! Patty is a 54 year old Canadian taking a one year sabbatical from teaching French. She’s extremely nice and lives a very interesting life. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her, even only for the two days I’ve known her thus far, and feel lucky to have an entire week with her.

What really made Monday stand out, besides the new volunteer, was the interesting news we got that night. Apparently, there was news of a flash strike coming Tuesday (today). That meant no stores would be open and no transport would be available. I assumed this had to do with wages, but today I received much more interesting information.

The Marxist party was in power here for ten years in Kerala, though they lost the most recent elections. With more elections coming up, there has been a lot going on in the political world. The two head leaders of the party were recently beat by a group of Muslims. In retaliation, the Marxist party has killed two Muslims and is holding a strike today. This means they will burn any stores that open and throw stones or fire at anyone who dares to use the main roads. The strike should only last one day, unless more people from the Marxist party are injured, in which case it will be prolonged at least one more day. Between this and what’s going on at the wildlife center in Thailand (see previous blogs) I am really getting a feel for governments that are very different than what I’m used to. And though I may complain about our government, I’m definitely lucky we have the system we do compared to many of the other systems in the world.

This has meant that kalari class and medicine man is cancelled since getting to and fro would mean risking our lives. Luckily traveling within the neighborhood is completely safe, so Patty and I were able to go to Katja’s house today to learn how to extract the transfluid from the coconut shell. This process requires shaving all the hair off of the coconut shell, breaking it into pieces, mixing it with herbs, burying it under ground, and setting a fire over it for two and a half hours. It’s an ancient, labor intensive process that is fascinating to be a part of.

Other than that and yoga, we’ve pretty much spent the day relaxing, trying to make the most of our day off. This gave me time to finish Great Expectations and update my blog for all of you loyal readers! I’m just hoping the strike is over tomorrow. I only have a few days left and I don’t want to waste them sitting around the house all day!

Another interesting thing that happened today was that Ranjit analyzed my sciatica. Ranjit has the ability to look at you and tell where your energy is blocked. Apparently over the last week or so he has noticed a change in the flow of my energy. As I lay on the ground, he was able to find the exact point on my leg where if he pressed, I could feel the strain and pain. Luckily it is very mild and just two days of therapy with the medicine man should take care of it. This should also take care of the pain I’ve been feeling in my back lately. Of course, the belief here is that this has been a result of more than just the physical strain I’ve been putting on my body. Sciatica problems are a result of some sort of imbalance in your life. The more severe the issue, the more severe the imbalance. This means while the medicine man takes care of my physical pain, I must focus on finding and addressing this imbalance. I think I know where to start, and I can only hope that helps the problem from returning.

So, though today was a very different day, I enjoyed having a chance to do some things around the neighborhood and let my muscles take a break from the intense strain they’ve been under. Just ten more days until I can crawl into my own bed with my own pillow and sleep for weeks.



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