We made it!

We made it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 2 – Rest Day & Popsy’s Birthday in Cochin

We awoke at 6.30am all together and woke up to a strikingly beautiful red Indian sunset and everyone feeling better for a good night’s sleep. Our hotel is built right on the verge of the water and through our windows there is a wide selection of boats streaming by. It is quite beautiful. Gus, fully recharged now is requesting lollies for breakfast – he caught a glimpse of them in the food case last night and now is very excited about the prospect of an in room breakfast. As I look outside our window I see a guard down below, half asleep in his chair cuddling his very old rifle. I often wonder what would happen if they ever needed to fire off a shot. There are long lengths of weed floating down the sea as we sit and have our morning cup teas. I can see now why the sign welcoming us to Kerala called it proudly ‘Gods Own Country’. It is Popsy’s birthday and he gets plenty of attention from the kids who are very excited about sharing Popsy’s special day. I struggle to do a couple of early morning stretches, trying desperately to build up some core strength, without great success I might add. Fair to say after 15+ hours of international travel the body is not in good shape.

We get dressed quickly, very hungry for breakfast and head down to the breakfast buffet, the kids favourite Indian activity. My breakfast consisted of a vegetable paratha, chickpeas, vegetable curry, samosa with tomato chutney, vada (Indian savoury donut) with coconut chutney, mushroom omelette, cashew muffin, fresh fruit and about 5 cups of south Indian coffee (our favourite beverage of all time). Bec and the kids have gotten their money’s worth out of the buffet and Indy and Mags have started to develop a taste for the SI coffee. It is kind of a milky coffee (mum thinks it is made with condensed milk). The closest thing I have ever tasted to it is the milky coffee at SPATS café on king William road in Adelaide. It is quite a treat and we will have our share over the next 6 weeks.

After breakfast we enjoyed a walk around the gardens and along the water’s edge. Large ocean liners and massive ships full of containers cruise by only a stones throw from our hotel. The pool is looking very cloudy much to the disappointment of the kids who we determine should leave it for today, just in case. Gus already has developed a plane cough and a day in the pool is not likely to help. He did however find a trike in the gardens and spent some time cruising around the hotel grounds on his new toy. The crows are arguing over something, squirrels are scurrying up and down trees, Ibis’s sitting on the reeds, coconut trees and frangipanis align the hotel’s garden with the background sounds of Christmas carols faintly streaming out of the hotel interspersing with the Indian pipe music blaring out of several boats cruising by, all somewhat surreal. There is a light haze over the water, thousands of containers visible in the shipyard across the way as the warmth of the sun slowly increases, it is going to be a hot one. As I look up at the balcony above the pool there is an older businessman sitting on the balcony with another man (I assume his servant) standing right behind him. They stay in that position for some time, a site not usually seen where I come from. A Barge chugs by as two young blonde boys run along the path by the water being chased by their mum who has one young baby in her arms. Certainly more westerners in the hotel than we saw at the airport. Maggie is sitting in front of me practising drinking out of a bottle Indian style (wit a frangipani tucked behind her ear. That is holding the bottle in such a way that you can drink without the bottle touching your lips, let’s just say Mags needs some practice but it kept us all amused for some time. Ofcourse Indy takes over and shows her how it is done!

Bec comes running up and informs me that her and Gus witnessed some fish in the water as well as some baby turtles floating by, quite a sight. Nanna has come up with the idea to catch a ferry across to the mainland today and see if we can’t stock up on some supplies, there are many things on our list. We all decide to meet down in the lobby in 20 minutes to head off. We head to our room and experience the first run of the kids (and us) living out of our packs. Well we had hair problems, shoe problems, shorts problems, sun cream problems and a few heated discussions between the kids on which item belonged to which of them. Needless to say as we ran for the ferry we unfortunately did not quite get there. The next ferry was not for an hour. Bec and I headed back to the hotel to put our cash in the safe, which we neglected to do. On the way back a rally was forming for the CPEO and there was a relatively large gathering, many red flags and several people taking in turns giving talks on the microphone. One thing I have always tried to steer clear of us public demonstrations and I share this with Bec and Indy as we walk past it to get back to the ferry. Just as we walk past an incredibly loud bang, like a gun bangs off right near our ear. Head down we keep walking, noone seemed particularly concerned and I couldn’t see anyone or anything that looked like a threat. I look at Bec and she has turned a light shade of white and her heart clearly beating out of her chest.

We get the next ferry, Gus and the girls loved the short ride across to the mainland. We run the gauntlet that is Indian roads and very carefully cross a couple of very busy streets on our quest to find MG road. Long story short we were not particularly successful today in securing supplies. We only managed to get our money changed and purchase a couple of Indian SIM cards for our internal communications. The other 12 items on our list were not secured. It was extremely hot and extremely busy and after a few hours I could see the kids needed to get back to the room for a little rest. We jumped in a couple of ‘autos’ small carriages basically on a trike that sound like they run on dried apricots. The kids love the experience and we are back on the ferry in no time. Back to the room for a little R and R before a birthday dinner for Popsy. Day 1 in India is drawing to a close and we are well aware that we have a very real and very challenging experience in front of us.

Tonight the jet lag kicked in a little and most of us were ready for bed at about 7pm. Gus fortunately fell asleep on my lap, giving in very quickly to a few strokes on his head. The hotel sends up a bedtime story for Gus, which unfortunately he did not stay awake for. The story of the Lion and the mouse, a lovely gesture, one of many we are used to by now receiving from our Indian friends. Maggie is determined to get a ‘Barry Evil’ story out of Poppa, much to Nanna’s concern. Mum knows that Poppas Barry Evil stories are all consuming and often whip the kids into a frenzy. Popsy shares a short story with the kids after we have a small planning meeting about the coming days and it is an early night without dinner for all.

Tomorrow we head to Kozhikode (or Colicut) ready to commence our walk.

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