|Varkala slideshow (2)|
One month flew by at this mellow resting beach. We only left the Cliffs a few times to go to the small town of Varkala 3 miles away. We also went to Trivandrum a couple of times - Kerala's unpretentious capital, 30 miles by train. The touristy area around the Cliffs gave us relief from the dusty noisy city, but we missed local meals, coffee shops and the busy markets of the big city. I enjoyed my daily salty baths in the Arabian Sea, our walks to Temple Junction to get fresh coconut juice and daily encounters with people we got to know – the chai wallahs, the waiters at the beach front restaurants, the coconut lady, the hundreds of vendors.
During our explorations in the nearby villages around the cliff, we encountered smiling children, friendly parents, all of them saying hi, practicing the few words they know in English and inviting us into their houses. We even saw a milkman, the old fashion way, pouring the milk from a faucet into people's containers. I hope Varkala never grow the tourist hotels enough to replace this vibrant villages around the beach.
I visited with lots of old friends from other times I was here, like Ibrahim, Krishna, Abdulah, and Ganesh. The latter two are now in relationships with Europeans – a German and French women. Their horizons are expanded beyond the Cliff as they visit and live in these places abroad part of the year.
The Cliff has indeed changed and it continues to change even during the last month we were here with new restaurants and shops open, even though I am told there are only half as many tourists this year as there were last year. We've met people coming from as far away as Nepal to wait on tables, with promises of a chunk of money at the end of the season. I am wondering if they will be paid as expected with so few tourists around.
Tomorrow morning we head out to Poonmudi, a tea plantation on the mountains about 3 ½ hours from here by taxi with Britt and her father. We'll spend the night there and then two weeks at Sivananda Ashram for a “yoga vacation.”