Close my eyes, spin me around 3 times and I might think I'm in Hawaii instead of India!
I've just spent 5 amazing days in the hills of Kerala, a tropical, southern Indian state famous for it's lush, green tea plantations, rolling hills (mountains?), backwater cruising via canals into the heart of village life. I'm also wowed by the region's ability to grow absolutely everything: pineapple, tapioca, coconut, bananas, pumpkin, ginger, pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, clove and more.
I'm glad this place found me. As luck would have it, I met a woman, Claire, in Pushkar, told her I was heading to Kerala to look for more yoga time. She recommended Mathew Plappally's Homestay Yoga Retreat. I checked it out www.mundax.com, booked online and couldn't believe it when Claire and I arrived on the doorstep at almost the same time. I actually didn't have much of an idea about where I was since it involved a 3.5 taxi ride - but as it turns out, I'm in Kuttikkanam, a small village just 35 kms from Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary - close to The Tamil Nadu state border.
Since arriving it's been a bit of a relaxing blur: yoga and meditation from 8-10 each morning, breakfast, a lazy afternoon of walking/reading/napping, another 2 hours of yoga/meditation at 4 pm, dinner, chatting and bed! The Keralan vegetarian menu has been a delight. I even had a consultation with an ayurvedic doctor. Ayurvedic healthcare is intended to detoxify, rejuvenate and restore you at the cellular level. Treatments can be quite invasive (in my humble opinion), but I'm probably just not educated enough in ayurvedic ways to appreciate the benefits; the practices have a very long history and are an alternative to the western healthcare I'm accustomed to. Thankfully, no such treatments were recommended for me - so I opted for a massage and steam bath -then giggled all the way home. Not really sure what was in the massage oil but Claire said I smelled like DINNER! We think cardamom was the culprit. Two days later I still smell funny, but overall, my body is very happy this week! The yoga sessions with Matthew have been wonderful. I never thought I'd be doing this much yoga, but he's an amazing teacher an it's been a real joy (well except for a few poses that shall remain nameless!)
Tomorrow I'm heading back to Kochi, with a side trip through the famous Keralan backwaters, the canal systems that link the small villages, by local boat ferry, then a nite in Kochi - where I plan to take in a traditional kathakali performance. Kathakali looks wild - it's a dance-drama production involving elaborate make up and costumes that brings the ancient legends of Mahabharata and Ramayana to life - each nite at 7:30!! Can't wait!
Finally, its one more train or taxi ride to Trivandrum and then "farewell" to India. I'm not quite ready to leave - should have planned for another month here- so guess I'll have to plan a return visit. There's just so much more I'd like to see of this fascinating country!