I don't imagine anyone wanted to quit the houseboats this morning, but we had to, so we trooped back on the bus for the trip to Kovalam. Each one of us is aware we are counting down the final hours of this holiday, so there's a slightly elegaic cast to our conversations in these last few days.
We reached our hotel and had the rest of the day at leisure - and we all needed it. Wonderful as this trip has been, no one would describe it as restful. It's not so much the early starts or long hours on the bus. Rather its the sheer volume of material, variety of experiences, the colour, the people, the noise and the beauty of the place which all take enormous mental effort to process, catalogue and appreciate.
I wonder how hardened travellers like Marco Polo coped. I suppose everything was slower - no faster than a horse or camel could traverse in a day, so maybe absorbing new experiences proceeded at a more genteel pace.
Our hotel is lovely, set next to the beach where the Indian Ocean caresses the shore. I understand that in the Bander Aceh tsunami, the waves did a good deal more than caress, and that substantial damage was done to the state.
We shared dinner tonight with the sad knowledge that tomorrow, after a morning tour, we all go our separate ways. This has been an amazing group to travel with. Worldly, well-traveled, and relaxed, they've been fun throughout the exigiences of travel. Another group that left New Delhi and paralleled us for much of our northern India tour seemed to be in a permanent sulk. Nothing pleased them, and it wasn't hard to see how one bad egg could influence an entire group and spoil a holiday for everyone. We've been very lucky with our companions.
Hundreds of ducks clearing the fields
Kerala state is run by a democratically elected communist party
Sunrise in the backwaters
Rush hour traffic on the waterway
Fishing fleet at anchor