Friday December 7-Wednesday December 12, 2007
– Varkala, Kerala, India
We caught our flight from Chennai to Trivandrum as planned. The trip to the airport revealed more about the city of Chennai. Our guide book described it as a place we probably wouldn’t spend much time at and the daylight trip to the airport was just about enough time. The traffic was chaotic, but not really heavy, but noise and pollution were everywhere. There were also people going in every direction in every possible form of transport. We arrived at the Trivandrum Airport in early afternoon and had arranged with our hotel to have transport provided. We had about 45 minutes to travel by car and was fun and interesting to see the countryside. It reminded us a bit of rural areas of Mexico, but with English rather than Spanish influence. Our destination, Varkala, is a beach side community on the southwestern coast. The tourist area where we stayed sits on a a cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea about 200 feet above a nice beach. The area is known as a place people come to relax and get out of the constant chaos of India. We thought it would also be a good way to ease into the chaos of India. Our hotel (Preeth Beach Resort) was a nice place with a pool a central hotel building and a group of cottages. We had one of the basic rooms in the hotel, but it came with hot water and a TV and a balcony looking over nothing in particular. They also had a nice large swimming pool. The pool has a beautiful tiled botton and a kids pool area and on the walls of the common bathrooms is a 3D mermaid with the most inappropriate breast ever sculpted. This part of India is warm and humid and the pool was certainly a nice feature because anytime you went out, you always came back soaking wet from sweat. We did what everyone else that goes to Varkala does, nothing. We read, visited some of the shops that are scattered along a walkway along the top of the cliff and enjoyed the beautiful views from the cliff top. Right near our hotel was a small Hindu temple. Each evening and morning for at least 2 hours they played traditional music over their loudspeakers and undertook various ceremonies making offerings inside. Each morning we also saw Men (priests we guessed) on the beach in white diaper looking thing with their legs crossed conducting ceremonies for local people who came to make offerings. In most cases the priest instructs the offerees on the procedures as they go along and it seems that they are not the same each time. Sometimes things are placed on a banana leaf and prayed upon and then the offerees carry these over their heads down to the water and place them there, then returning to the priest for further instruction. Other times they don’t really seem to have anything but are engaged in praying and showing reverence and then they throw sand into the sea. It could be that these are different rituals or maybe even different strains of religious groups. Nonetheless, it was very interesting to watch. We asked a couple of the locals who were nearby about this process, but we couldn’t really understand their response with language difficulties and their desire to provide a simple explanation for us. Varkala is also one of the centers for Aryuvetic massage and health in India. There is also a state funded natural healing hospital there. It’s probably good it’s a natural healing hospital because we might be a bit concerned aftern seeing it about the hygenic situation if they were engaged in any type of invasive treatment. There are also lots of people and places practicing yoga in the areas. Each morning there would be a number of folks on the beach practicing yoga. Overall, we really liked Varkala. It seemed so tranquil that we could hardly imaging we were in India. A trip out to the road nearby, however, quickly snapped us back into reality. Sheree decided to have her feet and legs hennaed and while it was diying she had her first ever facial. It was an interesting experience to have three indian women dripping and scrubbing and massaging your face , neck and chest area. The weirdest feeling is when someone else cleans your nose out with their fingers!
posted Saturday December 2007