Rest/mountain traveling

Trip Start Jul 03, 2008
Trip End Dec 07, 2008

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Flag of India  , Kerala,
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tuesday July 15th, 2008

    Today was a slow one in preparation for other traveling: mostly laundry and reading and such.  The one event was a visit to Dr. Luke's childhood home, where we met his mother and sister-in-law and her children, who were visiting from Illinois.  It was neat to see an authentic Keralan home (they had a well and a wood stove) and it was a relaxing time overall.  

Wednesday July 16th, 2008

    Today we took the plunge and hopped in the car for what seemed like the umpteenth time and hit the road for the highlands of Kerala.  I say the umpteenth time because it seems as through we have daily schedule that runs on clockwork: get up, eat, get in the car, sightsee, etc.  Not that I'm complaining; it's just that Doxycycline (malaria med) has a tendency to induce nausea, and I've been taking it with breakfast and following with long car rides. Not a prime combination.

As we head out of the lowland town of Kottayam for the highlands, the land begins to turn much lusher and greener.  Within two hours we are climbing small, windy mountain roads, but the scenery in mind-blowing: huge mountainsides covered in lush jungle with rivers flowing down the sides like so many veins feeding the valleys below.  This place (and much of the western Ghats, or mountain ranges) is what I see Kipling musing over as he began writing The Jungle Book. We even pulled over to see a picturesque waterfall that was next to the road.  A few minutes later we paused for a bathroom and refreshment break at a local tourism office (Lalu, our guide, is a district official in the tourism dept.) and we all enjoyed ice creams, though in retrospect, mine tasted a bit off...(foreshadowing anyone? :)

    We then stopped at a gorgeous little guesthouse for lunch, compliments of Lalu.  The house had originally been a British fixture and summer house for the Brit who ruled over Kerala.  It has since been refurbished, but still had much of its colonial charm.  Lunch was delicious but unfortunately the most memorable part for me was the losing of it.  Those who are squeamish please gloss over the following.  
I had felt awful since eating the ice cream bar at the tourism office, so much so that I felt feverish and queasy the whole next leg of the car ride to the guesthouse.  After resting a few minutes I was able to put down some of the lunch, but the nausea returned.  I consulted my compatriots, and had to go purge myself, which gave me a good deal of relief, but not total relief. To be continued.
We continued on, and the country soon began to morph before our eyes from scattered development and thick jungle to tea and spice plantations as far as the eye could see.  After stopping at a church and seeing a local shrine or two, we hit the road.  It was quite an experience seeing one of them; the shrine to the Virgin Mary is pelted by Rupee coins as passerby chuck them out the window.
We finally pulled into Kumily and go to relax a little bit for the night. Rosalie had her 21st Birthday today, and while it was cool being in India, it did remove a bit of the luster from the occasion, much like being a vegetarian at Thanksgiving J.  But we still had a cake and some fun, so it was grand. I also grabbed a new book at local store: The Algebra of Infinite Justice by Arundhati Roy.  If you have any interest in how India (and Afghanistan and Pakistan) really functions, especially in relation to the US, this is required reading.
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