I am so very much happier here than in Mahabalipuram. Kerala is more relaxed, there's more to do and the food is better. In the morning's you can look out into the sea and see dolphins playing.
Fundamentally, Varkala is very dramatic. a whole palm shaded town reclining on a cliff's precipice. All that seperates the cliff and the ocean is a gently sloping expanse of sand. Sitting in the cafes or the restaurants the views are of a perpetual turquoise sea, stretching out into the horrizon as far as you can see. At night this is tempered with the minute lights of the fishing boats, so far out at sea they look like another city.
The main street follows the edge of the cliff, generally with less than a metre to spare. Perhaps as a result of this there is hardly any traffic. Walking along the street you look down and see the beach, endless rolling waves with people dotted jumping in them. Because the beach is so shallow with such a gentle slope you can walk out beyond the breaking point of the waves and still only be up to your waist. Then you wait for a big set of waves and surf/fight them. My ears are still throughly sea and sand filled from this morning's round of this game. At night the gold, white and blue of the day changes to black and white. Waves look like endless white lines curling up to the shore. In daylight the sky is filled with birds, (their 6am chorus is a rousing one) and lying on your back on the beach you can usually see sea eagles flying, fighting for fish in the air. There are also a fair amount of paragliders. A French guy who works at the hotel we're staying at has his own chute and takes people out here. We were talking about it last night and he said we could just go with him, so we're going to try and do that tomorrow. If it's not possible then we're going to move on to the back waters tomorrow.
Every restaurant here has huge displays of fish outside at night. Last night we had Red Snapper and Sea Salmon grilled steaks. Tonight we're on the lookout for a really good swordfish steak. There's always a whole swordfish outside each place. But like anything in India, look hard enough and you'll learn all you need to. Most displays are clean and well iced, but yesterday we saw one Marlot (the name for swordfish here) crawling with cockroaches. The place was duely noted and avoided.
Health is yet to be a problem, I'm being religious about washing my hands and drinking bottled water. I have started eating salad though and that's proving to be ok. From what I've heard talking to other travellers here, the North is where "constant vigilance" is really required. With safety as well as hygiene. We both swim leaving our stuff on the beach here and it's no problem. This difference between the North and the South is mostly due to the attitude of the locals, or so we were told by the Indians on the train down here from Chennai. One man was say that there's no terrorism in the South because if the Southern Indians see something suspicious they'll report it straight away, terrorism finds no support here.
I finally got round to doing some Yoga yesterday. My wish for an afternoon session resulted in me casually strolling into the advanced class. It turned out to be really good fun, there were only four of us so we got quite a lot of attention form the instructor. Luckily I wasn't the only one who couldn't put my leg behind my head, or balance on one foot, body in superman pose, arms back with my foot on my head. The class was at 5pm so the sun was setting, an hour and half of intense 'Dynamic Yoga' had us all dripping sweat as the light slid from gold to pink. I did another session at 8 this morning, Hatha Yoga, which is more focused relaxation and breathing. I didn't enjoy it nearly so much. I'd forgotten how nice the after exercise feeling is. I think absence of exercise was contributing largely to my listlessness and discontent in Mahilbalipuram. Unfortunately even Yoga is subject to the constant plague of mosquitos. We were warming down at the end of the session, lying on our backs intoning Ohms and the like and I was fairly out of it. The little w***s saw their opportunity and bit me four times on my face and neck. You have no idea how retarded you look when you're scratching your face all evening.
Having been here nearly two weeks I'm also starting to get an idea of how I'm doing budget wise. In a strange way being in India is like shopping in Primark. Once you've been there for a while you become accustomed to the prices and forget how cheap everything really is. The fish yesterday was 300Rs each, with chips and salad, compared to what we usually spend it felt very expensive. But it's actually only just more than 3GBP. So although I feel quite extravagant at the moment, I'm actually well within target. Clearly more shopping can be done...
I want to bring Mummy here. I'm going to swim with dolphins in the Andamans. Sandro has a drum.