What a jam-packed first week it’s been.
After close to 40 hours of travel, we woke up early our first day and we were warmly welcomed by our host, Celia, to a delicious Kerala breakfast. We were lucky to start our days off like this, and every morning Celia would cook a new Kerala specialty for us. By the way, they cook with lots of coconuts in Kerala-as Kerala actually means the land of coconuts. So one morning we had coconut and rice flour pancakes with shredded coconut.
On our first day, we did a walking tour of Kochi to acquaint us with the area’s unique history. Kochi has a good harbor and the state is famous for spices, so this region has welcomed travelers and traders for years. On our trip, we learned about the history of trade with Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Jews, Chinese and later the Portuguese, Dutch and British. We saw the famous Chinese fishing nets, visited the house where Vasco de Gama died and saw the oldest active Synagogue in Asia.
As it’s so hot here, we drank many ginger-lime sodas-a local specialty that cools you down and boosts your immunity.
The next day, we attended a yoga class in the morning and went that evening to a martial arts performance-called Kalaripayattu in the local language. We also attended a class where we learned about Ayurveda, or the science of life, an indigenous and holistic medical practice.
Beyond exploring the city and experiencing the culture, we have been engaged in orientation- a number of fun activities to help us prepare for our three months of travel as a group.
Two nights ago, the group moved into homestays with local families. They have had a lot of fun with the families and experienced a bit of (healthy) challenge with language and cultural barriers. Each night, their families take them out to explore the local neighborhoods and markets of Kochi.
We have also started classes! There are so many different artistic practices here-and our group is having the opportunity to explore subjects that interest them. For example, between us we are taking: martial arts, yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, painting/drawing, flute, sitar, cooking, and dance.
Needless to say, we have been busy. But this is such a vibrant city and a vibrant country and we don’t want to miss a minute.
Stay posted for the next blog-as we venture up to the mountains for a trek in the western ghats and then make our way over to the Eastern coast of India.