Arrived Varkala airport about 4am (local time) absolutely beat and grumpy to boot. Took an age to get our rucksacks from reclaim as every other passenger on the flight was Indian and had bought themselves a flat screen TV in Dubai as a token of their trip.
We finally emerged following lots of pointless paper work and a queue for the one baggage scanner, into the hot hot Kerala night and were …well greeted wasn’t quite the word… by our taxi driver and host with his placard calling WOOD.
He led us to a little white car and proceeded to take us on a hair raising, death defying, jet lag curing ride of hell to Varkala. Seriously, we were terrified as he overtook lorries which were already overtaking bigger lorries thus hurtling us blindly into the path of oncoming lorries. What ensues seems to be a game of who can honk their horn more menacingly, the first one to chicken out has to either drive off the road or break hard and try to creep ashamedly back behind or between the afore mentioned overtaking lorries! Gulp.
As if our fevered imaginations weren’t already dreaming of the wreckage from which they would pull our mangled bodies, the driver then stopped and asked a petrol station attendant to fill a bottle with petrol which he placed on the front seat and it kept falling off, filling the car with the smell of fuel and a reassuring sense that there would be no bodies to pull from the wreckage, just some charred remains.
After a while the roads became quieter and our relaxation was broken only once more when he shouted “Ele, Ele, Ele!” Sure enough out of the gloaming and heading towards us appeared the unmistakeable shape of everyone’s favourite pachyderm with nary a headlight to be seen! After all this adventure we were glad when he stopped at a road side chai wallah and ordered us chai masala and mineral water – when we said we had no money yet he waved us off “No Problem”
Finally arrived and shown a little upstairs room where we crashed out until almost 1pm. Spent a day getting accustomed to our surroundings.. which basically consist of a series of ramshackle cafes balanced about a meter from the edge of the cliff above crashing waves and the occasional bit of sand not washed away by SW Monsoon. Every 3rd place is undergoing some sort of low season refurbishment or being built. It’s extremely quiet and no one is hassling us. There are about 25 other western tourists around and we all end in the same restaurants each night.
Mellow is the word. Our host Rani and her crazy taxi driving husband can not do enough for us and the second morning made delicious banana and coconut pancakes washed down with hot chai. (this morning however Rani apologized saying “no breakfast today- too tired!”) The other great think is the wildlife already. We have seen dolphins and watching Brahminy and Pariah Kites soaring over the sea and at eye level to where we’re sitting eating fantastic veg curry or chicken biryani and supping beers served in tea cups is awesome. Also seen white necked kingfishers, golden backed woodpeckers, hoopoes, minar birds.
Sorry this is a massive post but we are having problems finding access and when we updated the blog earlier with a better composed entry we lost it completely owing to god knows what virus infecting equipment! Very frustrating. Anyway at least we are here, we’re safe, we are loving food, people and views. Rains came on today whilst in town… (Town is a different story…) and it is promising to be quite a difficult journey over landslide prone mounts into Munnar tea plantation area where animal/man conflicts have atrocious attrition rates according to leading rag The Hindu.. apparently latterly caused when wild elephant trampled the tea and was hooted at by a sleeping man in a brick kiln!!!! According to the headline just today! This is serious folks… Love to all..