WOW, having a high-speed 'net connection again is like getting back into a car after driving an ox cart for a week. So much ground to cover I can't figure out where to go first. Looking over my notes I still owe a few visuals. I met a few new fruits over here that I'd never seen before and want to make sure to introduce you to them.
First - and most beautiful - is the "tree tomato" - tastes like a tomato/kiwi cross; grows in a tree; looks like a guava relative (maybe?)
Check it out:
Next, I think I've mentioned the "fish tamarind" - the smokey, puckery, dried fruit that is only used for fish curries. It took a long time to find someone who could show me what a fresh one looks like - they're really sour too. Here they are side to side:
So....After the Spice jungle Walk we went back to the hotel for dinner. The food was excellent, but it seems that all of the local chefs have the same repertoire. The Keralan fish curry, the vegetable pooryal, and the chicken curry prepared for us was delicious- the best so far; but it was the third rendition of each we had seen in 5 days.
New day, new destination – back on the bus and through the mountains to the low-lands again. This time to meet a house boat which will double as accommodation and transportation tonight as it takes us into the Keralan “Backwater” for a 3 day stay at a farm.
On the way out of the mountains we encounter several Independence Day “parades” of children dressed up as famous Indian leaders following their teachers through the streets, chanting freedom slogans.
Independance Day Parade
Queen of the Parade
We stop in one mountain town which is described by our guide as a “Plantation Town” apparently surviving pretty much on the spending of plantation workers. There is nothing here for a typical tourist , but we spend about 45 minutes wandering ally ways and buying local tea, rice, and the makings for Paan later on. Paan is the (in)famous preparation of the psychotropic betel nut wrapped in an aromatic leaf chewed for it’s stimulant effect, and, euphemistically described as a “digestive”.
Alley way for Paan Dealers
I didn't have time to stop, but I was DYING to hang out with these cool guys at the City Bakery and Cool Bar
Continuing through the mountains, dropping elevation rapidly, the scenery changes from dramatic mountain waterfalls to bamboo jungle to rice paddies and levies.
Our destination for the day is the “Backwater” region of Kerala, a system of canals and rivers designed to transport agricultural products from inland plantations to the coast. We are to board a houseboat converted from a barge and travel up-river to an island farm, the journey takes long enough to necessitate dinner and an overnight stay on the boat.
I'll put up some river photos and scenic video in my next post...