The backwaters are located in Kerala. It is basically a river which floats around many islands and you will find a lot of house boats here in the backwaters. Everything is perfectly green with all the palms, mango and cashew trees and the rice fields which you find on every island.
The people here are living in big houses which they own for generations. You can only reach the islands with a ferry or your own little boat.
We took the ferry to one of those islands and had a beautiful home stay at Matthew and Bina’s house. Both of them are so lovely and caring and we had the best food since I arrived in India. And by the way, Matthew’s dad built this house 80 years ago.
For Lunch they served us Kerala Rice, vegetable curry, cabbage with coconut, beans with coconuts, delicious sea fish, spicy lassie which we put on top of the rice, homemade Papadam and sweet bananas for desert. Matthew told us that the coconuts, bananas, rice and the vegetables are all home grown which made the meal even more delicious. And then of course Masala tea and biscuits in the afternoon:)
While enjoying this delicious food we watched all the house boats passing by. At the moment there are 1000 licenses for them, but the government stoped it, because otherwise it is getting to busy out there 😉 A houseboat is usually owned by an Indian and you pay around 1000 to 1500 Rupees per night. You have TV, a hot top and good food on it, so it is a quite luxury stay. It has all started with private boats and the locals kept it simply. But as soon as the tourism started, houseboats became more luxury and more expensive. To be honest with you, I am preferring the home stay which is more grounded and beautiful and you can walk through huge rice fields or along the river or taking the ferry to another island or the city. The ferry goes in sic sac lines across the river and takes all the inhabitants to the city and back from 5 am to 10 pm.
After this delicious meal and the observation of the water traffic we went for a walk through the island. Walking around the island is about 28 km. Here are 5 villages and round about 6000 inhabitants.
Thomas, our guide for today, told me that the young generation leaves the island for studying and working abroad. I really hope that this area will last and that there is always someone around who will follow the traditions, keep on with the farming and the traditional fishing.
Another interesting fact that Thomas mentioned is that the people here have everything they need for life. Growing their own vegetables and fruits means that they need nothing from the city except of plastic things. Even the drinking water is made out of rain water which is filtered and you can easily drink it 🙂
If you have a lack of let’s say rice you can buy it from your neighbors. Or the other way round. If you have left overs of mangos and coconuts you can sell those goods at the supermarket where others can purchase it. For me that is the perfect way of living. You have everything you need for life and once more I noticed that it is not much what we need to be happy.
While walking with Thomas and the group through the rice fields, the sun was setting and we had another stunning evening here in India. For the return way we took canoes and while floating on the water with a beautiful sky full of stars above us, the fishermen started to sing old traditional songs. Thomas was always singing first and then the others answered. Such a beautiful moment – just us within the backwaters surrounded by big palm trees, clear water and only the sound of the paddles once in a while.
Our canoes were so tiny that we linked them together, because otherwise I think we wouldn’t have made it without capsizing.
For dinner Matthew and Bina served us Roti, Chicken Curry, Vegetable Curry (potato, onions, carrots), Salad with coconut vinaigrette (tomato, cucumbers, onions, carrots) and fresh Pineapple for desert.
After a night without air conditioning (which wasn’t that bad) I went for a morning run. I followed the river and passed a lot of locals who were doing their morning rituals: Teeth brushing in the river and washing clothes. Others waited for the ferry to pick them up and on my way back I watched two locals while they were cutting coconuts from the tree. First I thought that it was rain, but as soon as I looked up I saw the men cutting the coconuts and the fresh coconut water sprinkled on my face.
For breakfast we had Masala tea, Dosas, fried bananas and curry. The others ate their dosas like a crêpe : sugar and fried banana in it. I preferred mine with the warm and spicy curry. After the four weeks with my host family I am really into spicy curry for breakfast 😉
Right now we are taking the boat down to Varkala. 5 hours on the backwaters with a cool Sprite and surrounded by beautiful nature – what can be more beautiful?