11 October 2013

Alleppey, India (20)

Panoramic Sea Resort hosted 2 coach loads of kids last night. With only 24 units. heaven only knows how they are fitted in! Both girls and boys of various ages, some couples holding hands! School kids? I would say, lock up your daughters! Anyway, they were very exuberant and the teacher had to shout to make herself heard! Luckily, we were not at all disturbed and woke up before the 2 coaches started up this morning.
The staff seemed eager to go off duty from Breakfast this morning as they phoned us at 8.10 to ask when we would be eating. Can't say I blame them, up late last night and early this morning.
Marari Beach Fishermen, Alleppey, Kerala, India
We decided to take a tuk-tuk to Marari Beach this morning. The hotel called the tuk-tuk (IR 550) and off we set at frightening speed. The forms of transport have been so different - in Colaba, South Mumbia - taxi's only but at fairly reasonable rates. No tuk-tuk's at all in this part of Mumbai - not surprising as the traffic is so crazy without them - it would be murderous with the added tuk-tuk population! In Goa, we had very expensive taxi's or local buses. Again, no tuk-tuk's in this part of South Goa. Now in Alleppey, Kerala, we only have tuk-tuks - no taxi's in sight although perhaps there are some? There are hundreds of tuk-tuks though - like buzzing bees, they swarm all over, all hoping for business. That's not to say that they suffer in any way, the locals use them all the time, from school kids, to couples, to families piled in so that there is not an inch of space between them. Frankly, this amazes me, as we just about fit into a tuk-tuk!!
The driver took off at a cracking pace so one has to hand on for dear life. With the natural flow of air, it was actually quite chilly in the old-fashioned non-ac vehicle! The drive goes thru town and the heads towards the beach, passing many and varied shops along the way. How these tiny stalls make a living is amazing, yet they all seem to be happy with their way of life. Smiles, smiles and more smiles for us crazy Westerners!
Closer to Marari Beach, there were much larger houses with walls in front of them - apparently, this is quite a wealthy area. It reminds me somewhat of Goa - lush and green with the houses surrounded by trees and foliage.
The drive down was pretty nerve racking as the driver seemed hell bent on getting us to the beach quickly. Dodging people, large trucks, 2 wheelers and other tuk=tuks is all in a day's work. Hanging on for dear life, I prayed that we would make it to the beach in one piece!
Luckily, we did and got out thankfully. This beach is supposedly the "swimming" beach but the waves were huge and breaking very close to the shoreline. Sounding like thunder claps is putting it mildly so  neither of us were brave enough to venture into the sea. There are no life guards on duty and I did not feel like being swept out into the Arabian sea. We decided to walk as we had come this far (to swim!!). Setting off at a brisk pace, we soon spotted some fishing boats in the distance so we headed towards them. The sight on this beach puts Paternoster (West Coast, South Africa) to shame. At least 30 or more very large, dug-out type boats line the shore. Many had fishermen working on repairing the nets and they were all smiles and happy to have their photo's taken. The boats have very colourful flags and some even have a shrine on the bow to keep them safe at sea. It was high tide so maybe they only fish at low tide? Communication is not always in English and sign language is open to various interpretations!
Fishermen mending their nets on Marari beach, Alleppey, Kerala, India
Dripping sweat by now due to the humidity it was very annoying that we could not swim. When salty sweat starts pouring into one's eye's it's hard to focus on taking photo's!
We eventually reached the breakwater after an hours walk. Across from the river, there was another beach but as we had walked far enough, we turned around.
We watched a lone fisherman throwing his net into the sea, he then pulls it out again within a few minutes, hoping to have caught something.
A camera man was filming a young couple so I again asked if this was for engagement or marriage. Luckily, his English was very good and he told us that the couple had married earlier today and these were post-marriage videos. He filmed us as well - oh my goodness!!!! Not a pretty sight with sweat drenched hair sticking up like stalks, and shirts molded to our backs. It seems a common occurrence in Alleppey for videos to be taken on the beach. These are always with the couple - no extras allowed!
We headed back to our starting point but endeavoured to cool off somewhat by standing in the waves. The water is divine, cool and refreshing just too scary to enter further. I would imagine that it's safer at low tide?
A group of about 6 guys approached me, shook my hand and said "Welcome to Kerala" They asked my name and where I was from and then offered me a shell. At first I thought they were after selling me the shells so I shook my head. However, one youngster, pressed a shell into my hand and wished me a good holiday.
The spirit of friendliness in all of the places that we have visited so far has been incredible. No hassles, just friendly smiles or waves 95% of the time. A chappie on his bike, carrying goods yesterday actually slowed down so that I could take a photo and James could video. Smiling broadly, he waved to us and carried on amidst the crazy traffic.
This friendly spirit within the Indian people makes this country worth visiting. The staff at Panoramic Sea Resort are simply amazing - the smiles are so genuine and they aim to please at all times. So even though this is nowhere near a 5* resort, the service and total friendliness has made it a wonderful stay.
People also leave their clothing etc on the beach, it appears to stay there until they return!!!!
The most common bird here is a black "crow" They are all over, squawking away. I was fascinated to watch their behaviour on the beach today. Two crows were stripping a coconut of it fibre - one assumes to build a nest somewhere. Later on we watched in total awe as about 4 crows tried to catch a fairly large crab. They would swoop down and grab it, then let go as the wave approached. The poor crab tried scuttling between my feet and then got swished up by a wave. The crows waited for the water to recede and then swooped again. Unfortunately, for them our presence upset their catching strategy and the crab got washed away by the next wave. Fascinating to watch although I did feel very sorry for the poor crab getting pecked at by these large black birds.
We got back to the parking area where a group of youngsters were "swimming" in the shallows and having fun. Even they did not venture much further than their ankles!
The tuk-tuk driver was much more relaxed on the drive back so there was no desperate clinging and the natural AC was a blessing as we could cool off somewhat.
Back at the hotel, a 30 minute swim in the pool got the temperature back to normal levels.
© Judelle Drake

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