Sadly our journey is coming to an end.. now we just have to survive the 12 hour layover 15 hour flight back home, and questionable airport food. Since the last blog much has happened *(it has been so difficult to get internet!), but I do want to talk about three great experiences in particular.
We took a boat ride through the backwaters of Kerala--starting at Kollam and ending in Alleppy. I expected to see much more exotic wildlife such as alligators/crocodiles, snakes, and big fish...but much to my surprise I did not find such. It felt as though I was at home (Findley Lake, NY)--but with a twist...taking a nice scenic boat tour around the lake. We saw several locals taking a dip tocool off, fishing off their long wooden canoe..and even washing clothes. There were many wild and colorful birds, ducks, and cows(on the land of course) as well as hundreds of jellyfish! I was surprised by the jellyfish because the water looked like freshwater and not saltwater. We were also informed that there are no alligators or crocodiles in the area..but we did see a very large snakeskin floating on the water. We also stopped for lunch and tea at a couple of really neat "hole in the wall" places where we ate the traditional Kerala: Thali dish and masala chai tea.What a day!
The next experience I wanted to share was yesterday at our last day in Cochin we managed to squeeze in a couple hours at one of the infamous beaches of Kerala. We felt a little awkward in our bathing suits going into the water, but there were also other westerners in the area too..and Nick and Corinne reassured us that it was okay (given that we had to be completely covered for the most part all trip). The water was soo wonderful and a perfect way to end the trip. About an hour into our beach time, one of the other girls, Jenny, told me the place right across from the beach offered Ayurveda massages! We had wanted to try one all trip. I really had no idea what one was like except that I enjoy a good back-rub so I wanted to try it. Now this was definitely an experience...you think I would know by now to expect the unexpected..but I did not in this case. These massages are quite different from american massages. I will not go into much detail, but I will say every day indian modesty was not upheld in this case. The woman who performed the massage was very nice and does this on a daily basis so she helped me to feel less uncomfortable. The use of hot oils was different and relaxing. At the end of the hour massage (which by the way was only 1300 rupees--equaling less than $30 american dollars) I sat in a box with only my head sticking out the top--their version of a sauna (steam-bath as they called it). The final step of the treatment was a shot of Ayurvedic medicine...I could not tell you what was in it..but I didn't ask questions and just decided to go for it. It was not pleasant tasting but it was part of the experience.
Lastly, we ended our last day in Kerala with some last minute bargain shopping around Fort Cochin and an AMAZING dinner at Corinne's friend Prahba's house. We had met Prahba at the very beginning of our journey around Kerala when we were first in Cochin. Prahba and her husband treated us all to a traditional Kerala Thali on a banana leaf. This meal was soooo good and so unique. Some of the currys and other toppings were similar to foods we have tried so far, but this was by far the best and most meaningful meal we had all trip. It was such a treat to spend this time with these lovely people. Surely this will remain in our memories for a long time.
Well, now it is time to let other students on the computer.. I mean we do have 7 more hours to kill afterall..I am looking forward to coming home, but will miss this beautiful country dearly. It has been such an enriching experience and I can't wait to share more about it as well as the many photos I have taken with friends, family and the Nazareth community.