|This Large Net Is Lowered Into the Water To Hopefully|
Catch Some Fish
We had some time before we had to be on our houseboats near here, so we took a stroll along the water’s edge of old Kochi. Fishing boats were tied up, their nets sticking way in the air. The fishermen here, in the shallows, use a way of fishing learned from the Chinese. (Or was this the other way around?). A very large square of netting is lowered into the water, held spread out by very long, skinny but strong beams. After some time, this net is then carefully pulled up and any fish swimming over the net in the water are pulled in. it is very ingenious and very effective. We tried on one boat to catch fish but it does take some skill, we caught only one miserly small fellow.
We saw, on our further walk along the water’s edge how effective the locals are, because there were fish mongers selling the morning catch. Enough fish for everyone. I wished I could have bought one and then steamed it for lunch. Yummy!
|Shark For Sale|
We learned on this walk that the Portuguese planted some African trees here. And the British brought trees native to Australia.
|Craw Fish? Shrimp?|
We proceeded after our walk to the houseboat ‘harbor’ via bus. Our houseboat tour company was named Evergreen and they had a fleet of 10 boats. But all in all there are 1000 house boats on the river giving similar, albeit less luxurious rides to people.
|What a Tale They Had To Tell About Getting the|
Beer and Wine
We had brought on board a stash of beer and wine. Alcohol is not included into the boat rental fee and I just have to tell you how we obtained our beer. On the bus it was decided we were buying in bulk for the group and then divide the cost up. The Indian fellows on board the bus knew where the locals buy their beer, so we stopped along the way and 3 of our group went to buy beer. Well it took a while and they came back with beer but only had 5 bottles each. Not enough for a group of 16 for a 2 day ride with lots of free time to drink beer. What gives? With smiling faces they told us
|The Narrow Alley Where They Lined Up For the|
Beer and Wine
they did well, actually. The limit is 3 bottles of beer per person, per day. You cannot buy more beer even if you have lots of money. Mmmm, what to do? Well, the bus driver knew of another place so we drove to this place. This time we had about 5 to 6 men from our group get off the bus, including me, to buy beer. Through a very narrow alley we went behind some building where ultimately barriers guided us single-file, like cattle to a hole in the wall window. There you could buy beer, and only there. No other place unless you go to a fancy hotel, which had a bar. The beer price in the hotel was 10 times as much as here.
|Here Is the Window Where the Beer and Wine|
Could Be Purchased - What An Adventure!
The selling of beer to locals is strictly regulated and is sold in limited amounts. This is done to limit alcoholism. There is no sale of beer or alcohol on the first of each month when people get paid. The government wants the men to bring their hard earned money home to the family and not drink it away. Those are strict rules alright but I think good rules. I remember as a child when pay day came (Fridays) and my grandma waited for the weekly money to come in, only to find later that it had been spent on beer, or at least a large part of it. I lived through this from a child's point of view. I do not mind the limited sale of alcohol in India, the limits put on consumption. Good for you, India. It saves a lot of domestic violence.
|Glad I Didn't Have to Walk This Tippy Plank With a Suitcase|
All our suitcases were lugged on board via a narrow plank next to a tree, no dock. We balanced ourselves on the plank to get on board and off we went. Our exploring journey on the Pravo River was relaxing. Just a slight hum from the quiet diesel motor was all we heard and of course nature was all around us.
For the last 3 weeks we had a go, go schedule, not that I am complaining. Yet it was nice to just drift along for a day and do no more running around. Houseboats can be rented including crew and all services; that allow a leisurely time away from it all. Our group rented 3 of these boats near Kochi, each boat containing 3 en-suite bedrooms, a communal dining room, sitting room, etc. it was like a floating mini hotel. All B/R were air conditioned most of the time, well some of the time (night time).
The Pamba River (there are very many rivers in Kerala) glides through a natural preserve. It is very rural along the shores and there are only a few houses here and there. At our first stop along the river the group all managed to change vessels and to fit into 2 long canoes without falling into the water. It was a wobbly affair since there were no docks and the getting off our houseboat into the canoe was a giggly, yet scary proposition. All went well. The owner of the canoe put me into the bow and he took the aft section. The rest of the group sat in between. I helped paddle when I felt there was a need for help. The aft man poling through dense growths of water plants, mostly lilac lilies. We poled and paddled through a side
arm of the main river and immediately it became even quieter. Trees grew
up very close to the water; some overhanging branches even shaded the waters.
At other sections planted fields, green and vibrant, were cultivated.
|Had to Step Off the Bank Into the Canoe|
Very few, far away, spaced houses were visible. Or were those working sheds? Hard to tell, some had oil presses next to them to press for? Could it be Coconut oil? Some kind of oil! The area felt abandoned but then I saw people coming out of buildings where I would have thought nobody lived.
|Lush Greenery Along the River|
We just slid across the quiet water, getting a feel for this tropical paradise. Plants sure grow here. It was humid. Left and right were the kinds of plants I have only seen in botanical gardens before. The water-way we were on, in certain places, seemed choked with plants. Paddling was tough and arduous. It was a world I know zero about, I truly felt like a city slicker out of his realm. The canoe trip lasted about an hour but I loved it. I wished I could have talked to the people we saw to see how they look at life. We could have compared notes, my notes from NYC and their notes about daily going on and their experiences. It would have been interesting for me.
But…let’s get back on to our house boat and the chugging motor that takes us up river. All meals were served on board by the crew. All meals were cooked by the crew. It was good food and there was plenty of it.
Living on the river was a slow life and it even included a nap for me. And even though it is only March, the sun is up and heating up the land. The mind turns a little mushy. Yet, the living is easy, like the song says.
I went back to sit on the deck of our houseboat, just watching everybody selling or buying. I felt a bit removed but had a smile on my face. This was a day of just drifting, slowly, along the river. My job was watching life pass by.
Not much later, around 6 pm, we tied up someplace for the night. No river traffic at night, it is too dark to see, the river has no navigational help. It's safer to just wait out the night.
We had our beer and wine that night, chatted with the other people in our small group and went to bed early.
It was a wonderful, relaxing day. Good choice on the itinerary, Fiona.