We wrapped up our time in Kerala hill country with an overnight stop in Kuttikkanam where we stayed on a 600 acre tea and coffee plantation perched on a spectacular ridge line. We did a little exploring of the property before heading out of the mountains on to the rice paddies and backwaters of Kerala.
While exploring the tea and coffee plantation, we came across the local plantation workers weighing the Arabic coffee beans. After the coffee was weighed, it was sent down the hillside and then rolled onto drying platforms for 3-4 days of drying before being sold to local roasting companies.
When leaving the plantation the following day, we faced another monster downhill as we descended to sea level and the backwaters of Kerala. The temperature quickly rose and the landscape changed dramatically as rice paddies replaced the cardamon and sandalwood forests where we started. After a morning of cycling, we hopped on a houseboat for a 24 hour cruise around the backwaters of Alleppey where in the not too distant past, the primary mode of transportation were boats and canals.
The waterways were teaming with people fishing, cleaning, shopping and generally moving about.
Hundreds of pleasure boats cruised with tourists up and down the river. It was quite a scene during the day and yet another traffic jam, but at about 6 pm, all the large boat movement stopped to allow the local fisherman to cast their nets for the evening and that is when the river became magical.
It was a beautiful evening and morning on the water exploring the local villages , but we both sensed the approaching end of our cycling and looked forward to the last couple days of pedaling through rice paddies and along the beach to our final destination of Fort Kochi.
Fort Kochi Beach is quite the happening spot on a Sunday morning when we visited. The fishermen are busy with their Chinese fishing nets. Tourists and touts are about and there are many pick-up football and cricket matches.
On the way to town, we had lunch at a local home with some folks with connections to the cycling team at Xava. They were spending a month at their home during their annual leave from their work in Kuwait These lovely people cooked a “Thanksgiving” size lunch for us with many, wonderful Kerala dishes such as olan, seer fish molee, sambar, kerala rice (a wided rice than basmati), chapatis, cabbage, carrot thoran, and even some homemade wine. Many folks from Kerala are working in the Gulf States sending money earned back to India . In fact, we were told 100’s of millions of dollars flow back each year to the state from the Middle East, UK, Canada and the States. The local area is quite prosperous in relative terms. We saw a lot of kids on bikes, beautifully maintained churches, new roads, and many, many large homes.
And that is a wrap. 14 days, Bengalaru to Kochi on the cycles. Now we are off to a yoga retreat in Goa for some twisting and stretching to loosen up the hip flexors! Namaste.