The Bombproof Water Bottle
The Penultimate Blog During the course of our travels I wish that I'd recorded, or even remembered, some of the conversations we've had with people or things we've been told. In Rio, I can't recall the formula for Louis' Magic Cream, although if I'd written it down he would have accused me of working for the Californian cosmetic companies that stole his secret and fortune. Over breakfast recently somebody remarked: 'I don't trust the bacon in India; they could get it from pigs'.* I was thinking of this because India is a particular minefield of comic misinformation. We are frequently misguided in attempted scams. Rickshaw-wallahs will invariably tell us that the hotel that we want to stay in has burned down or, due to a Bob Monkhouse look-a-like convention, is fully booked. As such, it was fun confusing the touts outside New Jalpaiguri Station; they looked truly baffled when we announced that we would were travelling to Ernakulam, Kerala. We were told that it wasn't possible or that the train had been derailed by a Jaffa Cake. They couldn't believe we were getting on the 3 day train - an equivalent distance of London to Asia - a route that would take us through Calcutta, Madras and possibly Haywards Heath. It was obviously a relief to arrive in Kerala. We had held poos in for days, the cabin had become like a prison cell (complete with a mouse called Stuart shuffling around our backpacks) and old rice, foil trays and chicken bones had piled up in between carriages. We seemed the only non-Indians aboard; the non-English speaking pantry porter was hard work, always muttering something about omlettes before serving us with testicle shaped things made of vegetables and fluff. However, the discomfort of the train made us appreciate our position two days later even more... Floating through the nile cabbage on the coconut palm lined backwaters of Kerala was a picture of space and freedom. Victoria and sat in comfy wicker chairs, occasionally waving at various people who lived in modest huts at the water's edge. Although I swear a little boy threw a twig at us and called us 'w*nkers'. Our Captain gently guided the Kettuvallam houseboat, whilst the First Mate continually served us with Keralan dishes knocked up by the chef in the galley. Incidentally we were late getting off from the dock in Alleppey because the chef had to pop to Tesco for two packs of Super Noodles for Victoria. We stopped to be shown around Kainakary village near Alleppey, where a long walk along a path bordered by mango, banana and cashew plants led to a catholic church dedicated to Kuriakose Elias Chavara, unique because it was built over his birth place, a small house that remains inside. We also stopped to swim. Just as the First Mate was confirming that there was nothing 'bitey' in the water a 2ft long snake (Eel..whatever) lurched towards Victoria's foot. This left me thrashing in the depths in a few minutes of expertly disguised panic, meanwhile Victoria helped me by going to fetch the camera from the boat. A man in a kayak laughed at me and tried to sell me some prawns. We are now in Varkala, a cliff top beach town overlooking Papanasham beach. Gazing at the Indian Sunsets every evening causes us to deeply reflect on our travels, which are quickly coming to an end. Probably just the cocktails though. Love Victoria and Tom xxx * A superb Victoria Barnes quote.