Hello from Varkala Beach, a city in Kerala, Southern India. I have been in India two weeks tomorrow, and away from home for three. I find myself really solo for the first time since I’ve arrived here. I’ve been with a wonderful group of people from all over the world for the last 10 days on a backpackers tour bus through Kerala with a company called GoMowgli. We were like a family almost instantly and I believe I was placed with each one for a reason, each one presenting lessons to me.
There is Charlotte, the 24 year-old free spirit, if not confused, soul from Marseille, France currently living in Berlin. She’s taking a year to figure out the direction she wants her life to take. Charlotte is assertive in a non-offensive way, can talk to anyone without question, I love that about her. When she says Shit, it sounds like Sheet. The first time we heard this expression from her was during our first day after she stepped in a HUGE pile of cow dung! Ha. Then Nikki, the 20-something, laid back, internationally educated attorney from Singapore. Her father is the ambassador to Singapore living in D. C. She has lived in many places including Malaysia and Indonesia and has an accent that leans American/British. She departed us a few days early to fly to Hyderabad, India for a wedding. There’s the couple from San Paolo, Brazil in their late 20’s, Ariel (roll the R) and his girlfriend Luiza. Currently living in Tel Aviv where Luiza is finishing a masters degree, she’s a practicing attorney and they also lived in Paris with Ariel’s job with Google. They are both interested in History and I was blown away, if not envious, of how much history Luiza has stored in her brain and can speak like six languages! They are vegetarian and don’t like much spice, so it’ll be forever a memory of them ordering boiled vegetables, paneer (Indian cheese) and boiled eggs everywhere we went. Love! It wouldn’t have been the same without our young 22 year-old taxi driver named Kicsu (Kit-chew). Kicsu was such a part of the group that was not just the driver, but an assistant guide, a friend. It was unfortunate for us that he had to leave us a couple of days early to get back to his studies, he was a pleasure to have around, always funny, thoughtful, and posing for pictures.
Then there is our most beloved guide Popeye, his nickname with GoMowgli. A young man, from northern Kerala. He was so much more than a guide, he was our mother in all the best ways. Always there to care for us, from grabbing my camera to move it away from the edge of the table so it wouldn’t fall, to lighting up steps at night with his phone light so I wouldn’t trip, to selflessly helping us with every detail we needed, answering endless questions, rearranging schedules, pushing us, worrying about us, the praise goes on and on. I call him a friend. He loved photography, takes great pictures I might say. Twice we went on photo walks, him and I, around sunset and talked. I have ton of questions about the culture here and we discussed many. He thinks much like my husband and I about life, the power of the mind, law of attraction and has spent much time traveling solo and in meditation about his life. I love his story about how he came to work for GoMowgli, even more because without this story, he wouldn’t have been our guide, I wouldn’t have met him, so I believe this story occurred as much for him as it did for me, because without his story, he wouldn’t be a part of mine.
Popeye’s Story – While traveling around, jobless and took a Couchsurfing acommodation in Mysore, India. They offered him a place to sleep in a cafe. He was only supposed to be there two nights but for some reason extended to four. On the 3rd or 4th day the gentleman said he had a friend looking for a guide from Kerala for this new company they had launched and was he interested. They came out to talk with Popeye and he was hired. Had he not stayed the extra two nights he wouldn’t have know about this job. I love this story!
Yesterday we all said goodbye and vowed to keep in touch. So now I’m alone, truly! It’s bloody hot here in Varkala, especially during the main daylight hours 11-4. I can’t emphasis this enough. Not Florida hot, much hotter. It stings, I rain from my pores. A|C is hard to find, mostly fans moving hot air around. Thankfully the dress here is less modest being so touristy. This is the first area of India I’ve been in with this many white people and from all over the world. The restaurants here cater to all, with most nationalities represented on the menus. Mexican, Italian, German, Chinese, Thai, and of course Indian as well. It’s also the most expensive place I’ve been. Which is relative when $1=65rs (rupees). Have you walked down the main drag in Cozumel, Mexico? The same goods in every shop, shop attendants trying to woo you in, “Come, see my shop, I give you special morning price”. You know what I mean. This is Varkala Beach. But it’s where I’m sitting still for the week. Much needed after Popeye ran us all over Kerala for 10 days with all the amazing hikes and walking tours and early mornings! I’ve been nursing a horrible head cold through all of it and now need to lay low. I was the ginger queen on the tour, having bought crystallized ginger for the anticipated long taxi trips. Charlotte, Nikki and I all got very motion sick and the ginger was helpful. It also helps with my cold. Nice finding ginger tea on most, if not all, Indian menus, so I drank that every meal I could during the tour as well. Yesterday Charlotte and Popeye presented me with a most thoughtful gift of ginger in crystallized and tincture form in a sweet little hand pouch for my Birthday. Such a nice surprise. Made the Goodbyes even more bitter sweet!
So from here I move forward, back to Fort Kochi on Friday and then onto Tamil Nadu! For now…