We were out the gangway and on the bus by 8am even with 2 Visa check points. Cochin is hectic but not with the same intensity of Mumbai. The pace is a notch lower.
English is used much less in this area of India.
There is garbage along every road, building, house, lot, any empty space. We got no answer about some sort of garbage pick up. My impression was it might be available but no one is going to spend money for that service. So hundreds of women were picking up garbage and clearing tall weeds from along side the roads. The government pays them to this. They were all ages. Some using a pick ax to loosen weeds. All beautifully dressed, in groups of as few as ten or as many as 30. They sort out the plastic to recycle in blue barrels and the rest is put in a burn pit. This was happening all along the highway for our 90 minute ride. No one is competing for yard of the month.
There are very nice, walled in houses that are well maintained but tens of thousands that are not. There are Hindu temples in every neighborhood because they must attend the one in their own neighborhood. There are varying sizes with different degrees of ornateness. Always immaculately clean and tidy. There are many Catholic Churches and lots of Catholic private schools.
The bus pulled off the road and our back up driver went out with a rag and cut a pod off a cashew tree. It was something non of us had seen before. It looked like a yellow pepper and leaked an acidic stream from the pod. I am assuming the nuts were in the pod. There is a process to cure them. They are considered an natural libido enhancer in India.
Half way to our destination we pulled off the road to use the restrooms at a hotel. The reason they say wear closed toed shoes is because the floor is always wet in the bathroom. No paper just a sprayer.
The Communist party rules India and there is hundreds of sickle, hammer, and star logos everywhere. They just had a country wide election where a socialist woman ran against a male communist. The results of the election will not be told to the public until May 23rd. There were political posters glued to everything.
We were told local vets have neutered hundreds of stray dogs which has helped keep the population down.
The children get free lunch at school provided by government .....free range chickens.
We arrived at the river the driver backed in next to the fence. This will be important later. Crossed the road at great risk to life and limb and boarded a motor boat with a lower and upper deck. The top deck had a canvas top to protect us from the sun with chairs and there was a reasonably nice breeze.The lower deck had two lounging beds in elaborate fabric and colorful statin pillows. You could pretend to be Cleopatra of the Alappuzha river.
The river traffic was almost as bad the the street traffic. There are very large house boats available to rent for vacation. 2-3 bedroom. They have thatched roofs and sides with hurricane blue tarps underneath. Long carved canoe boats, and tiny ones. Women were washing clothes in the river. They stand several steps down by the water and slap the laundry on flat rocks placed at the top of the wall waist high. Young girls to grandmas then
hang up the clothes inside out. There were acres or rice patties, gigantic palm fronds used to thatch the house boats.
We ended up at the Palace Lake Resort for lunch along with seven other vessels full of tourists. It was buffet style and everyone was offered a mug of beer or water. No one was allowed a second beer. The food was good even the curry. Lots of shrimp, 2 kinds of rice, 2 kinds of soup, a big variety of bread, pasta salad not sure what was in it. Ate a small helping anyway. Finished off with homemade mango ice cream. Full as tics we took the 10 minute boat ride back to the buses.
The bus parking lot was full and to maximize the space they were parked in both directions. The ones in front of our bus were parked length wise. Then like a magic parking game the lot was empty and we were on our way. I have no idea how it happened because walking to the bus it looked impossible. Impeccable timing and practice I guess.
At the ship terminal we had our final visa check and just outside it lead us into a make shift shopping area. Great fun negotiating for t-shirts, carved painted elephants, and elaborate small purses.
When we got into the room the woman in the mirror had hair the size of Dolly Parton with clips holding it out of her eyes. She immediately took a shower because I was afraid the woman in the mirror was me.