18 Kovalam, Kerala, Southern India
Sunday 23rd February 2014
Just a 90 minute tuk tuk ride from Varkala to Kovalam – unfortunately the driver didn’t exactly know where our hotel was so he dumped us at the beach and demanded another Rs.100 (£1) – so yet again we are dragging our luggage, ruck-sacks on our backs, hot and sweaty, being pointed to the far end of the beach then through a narrow alley then back in the direction we had just come from along a bumpy strip of concrete with marsh land either side – “by the temple” one man told us as we manoeuvred past each other on our concrete runway – “there, there!” he shouted pointing – we staggered into reception of the Vedanta Wake Up Hotel in Kovalam, the manager immediately ordered a cold bottle of water to be brought out!
The hotel is set back from the beach and surrounded by palm trees growing out of the swamps, the staffs are great, they printed out our visas and e-tickets for Sri Lanka and Andy is now a new friend on facebook.
Our only excursion from the beach was to the post office – we wanted to send home our Northern India warm clothes and our wooden Rajasthani Man. We had to go to the main post office which was 8 miles away and then spent a hot and frustrating 2 ½ hours arguing with staff. Lazy, incompetent idiots. A Russian couple had already been waiting for an hour when we arrived so immediately I set off to find someone who could deal with our boxes. A toothless wonder shuffled over, spent 30 mins watching the Russians seal, tape and address their box, she then used a machine to strap the box, pulled it too tight and ripped the box. It took her 20 minutes to find another box for the Russians and the procedure was performed again including the silly old fool yet again ripping their box a second time! A third box was finally found and the repacking ect was repeated – “whilst we are watching them repack, would you check our box please” I asked – multi tasking is not a concept to most Indians.
With bad grace she mumbled “what in box” – it turns our Rajasthani Wooden Man could not be sent home because we didn’t have a forestry commission certificate for him!
“What else?” she demanded – “CLOTHES, CLOTHES!” – I was getting rather angry by this time and pulled out items waving them around.
We sealed our box and were ignored for another half hour – obviously I had not been waiting patiently all this time– I had been ignored at every counter in the entire post office. After two hours had passed I noticed the manager was back in his room, I knocked politely, entered quietly, then lost it! “It is lunchtime Madam” he told me – “not when we arrived it wasn’t – two hours – incompetent staff!” Toothless wonder came in and began to shout back but the manager told her to be quiet, and then he found someone to assist us.
We didn’t let them get anywhere near our box with the strapping machine. At the counter we were asked a ‘from’ name and address – I wrote Mr. Vedanta, Wake Up Hotel but she didn’t believe me, luckily our driver came in at that point to check our progress and said we could use his name and address.
We lie on the sun beds reading – Colin swims in the enormous waves, unfortunately I was engrossed in a Jeffery Archer book on my kindle when he got knocked over, swept under and spat out again, missing the action!
We have met a nice couple in their 70s, Brian and Janet from England who travel for 8 months of the year – it is fun to swap stories and remember places we have all visited. We meet at 7pm for drinks and dinner – the restaurants serve beer in large mugs so the ‘alcohol’ police think we are drinking tea!
It was the dog rushing past my sun-bed that got my attention, he ran into the sea and came out looking very pleased with himself, his mouth full and tail wagging. Other dogs joined him, crows circled and swooped – I pottered to the water’s edge to see what they had found. Pieces of dead bird were washing up; the dogs ran around with feathers hanging from their jaws. I cooled off in the crashing waves until I saw the bird’s innards floating past; I swam to one side and narrowly missed colliding with its head! By this time around 15 to 20 Eagles had arrived. It was an incredible sight to see so many of these large majestic birds soaring above us, sometimes just a few feet above our heads so that we could see their yellow legs tucked beneath them and their heads elegantly moving around looking scraps. They were so low that we could easily see their eyes and beaks and watch their chocolate brown feathers altering as they glided on the air currents. I felt privileged to see such a spectacle. I took 101 photos, mainly of empty bright blue sky.
Monday 3rd April 2014
“I don’t think I will like India, I might be able to last one month” I can remember telling Colin last year as we researched our trip and read about all the terrible gang rapes. We have been here three months and it has been a wonderful experience. India is a country of extremes – wealthy people and poor, old traditions bend with the new, there is color, noise, rubbish, amazing views, cows, temples, great food, terrible food, fun and laughter – the people are so happy (apart from post office workers!).
We have spoken to many people who come back year after year – “it’s been great” we say “but the world is a big place and so many different countries to see, we probably won’t return” – but now I find myself thinking about returning to visit Darjeeling and Calcutta and of course a trip back to Agra to hopefully find the Taj Mahal not shrouded in thick impenetrable fog would be good!
Good Bye India – we’ll be back.
Review Written by : Ms. Tina Crossman