a cool mountain town in the Cardamom Hills
17.01.2009 - 19.01.2009 21 °C
More time to unwind in our lovely, tranquil resort (Spice Village) set 3,000 feet above sea level – each of us with our own, thatched-roof cottage.
As soon as we got settled in Marney and Cynthia went on a plantation tour. Haidee, Rashmi and I opted to go into town (a 2-minute walk) instead. Yes, we went shopping, but I feel compelled to mention that while I am doing a lot of shopping it is not costing a lot of money:
When you shop at the markets like we are you are spending anywhere from 150 to 350 rupees on pants, tops, scarves – which, loosely translated, comes to between $1 to $2.50 in U.S. dollars. In Samode (at the start of our trip) I got three silver bangles for $7, for example.
In cities like Mumbai you pay much more in the fancy shops where you’d swear you were on Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive – but that’s not where we’ve gone. This is much more fun, actually – and we’ve all become experts at haggling.
I will be having hernia surgery when I come home, though, because my bags are becoming heavier and heavier … and I’m needing more and more pieces of luggage.
On this particular sojourn in the shops the three of us met Deepak – one of the most wonderful guys you’ll ever meet. His English was fantastic – which he credits the 18 years he spent with hippies in Goa for. He’s a philosopher, a charmer, a fabulous salesman, an entrepreneur (he’s got three stores in Thekkady), and an all around great guy. We even met his son and his wife – and soon we were all having masala tea – courtesy of his wife, who made it at home for us and brought it to the store.
We were there for a long time and we all walked out with bags and bags full – wonderful silk ‘laundry’ bags.
Back at the resort I tried to get on the internet – to no avail. I had a feeling it would be spotty in the South – and in fact, I never could use it in Thekkady. So instead we went to a cooking class – which was very interesting and delicious as well. Then we enjoyed some local entertainment and a wonderful dinner.
Kerala is known for seafood so I’m in heaven.
You can’t keep your eyes open here past 10 pm. I think I read the same two lines of my book four times and just had to turn off the lights. As I fell asleep I was serenaded by crickets. That’s the last thing I remember.
Up bright and early the next day, I wandered around taking pictures of all the plants – you have no idea what grows here – cinnamon, teak, curry leaves, coffee, tea, ginger, pepper, and on and on the list goes.
Haidee and Marney went on a three-hour nature hike – Spice Village is right near the Lake Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. I opted not to because I didn’t feel like exposing myself to lots of mosquitos – especially as I didn’t think they’d see a lot of animals – which, in the end, they didn’t.
Instead I checked out the property, watched a man carve earrings and serving pieces from teak and coconut shells, relaxed and went back to town. I had thought I’d have an ayurvedic massage, but in the end I didn’t even want to do that.
After all the activity of recent weeks it was nice to just veg in the beautiful, calming, serene place. At the end of the day we went to a spice market and loaded up on ginger and cinnamon and nutmeg and vanilla and cardamom and masala mix for tea and coffee and seasoning for every conceivable kind of curry – fish, chicken, vegetable, lamb – and we also got some oils – musk, eucalyptus, aloe vera, special massage oil for sore joints – our luggage will be very fragrant on the return trip home.
What gave us all a giggle was when three women (neighbours who were out shopping together) asked if they could take their pictures with us. For close to a month now we’ve been asking the locals if we can take their photos – this time the tables were turned – and we were the novelty.
You have know idea how excited and happy they were when we said “yes”. The whole village turned out for the event – you wouldn’t believe the size of the crowd that gathered. It was really sweet.
Dinner at a local restaurant (another feast – with main dishes costing in the range of 100 rupees – less than $2) and again, early to bed.
How I got everything I bought into my suitcase I will never know, but the Gods were smiling on me for sure …