Varkala is in the state of Kerala, the most socially progressive state in India. It has the highest literacy rate, an impressive 95.5 percent. It has the longest life expectancy, 77 years. The lowest homicide rate. The highest ratio of women to men. The lowest fertility rate. The least corruption. It is relatively clean compared to other parts of India I've been in, and has drop dead gorgeous landscape. It is interesting to note that much of the state was formed from territories that were never part of the British raj. It also has a democratically elected communist government.
Varkala Beach, on the Arabian Sea towards the southern part of Kerala, is usually quite crowded. It is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. I happened to plan my trip for the off season, when it is so hot that most people opt for a cooler climate. But this was the time I had available, and it was not any hotter than Chennai. What did I have to lose?
Since this was my final hurrah, I splurged and stayed at the Kaiya House, which is top rated on Trip Advisor and had lots of good comments. I had to convince Debra to stay open, because she closes down when it gets hot and takes some time off. I played the "little old woman traveling by herself in India" card, and it worked. Debra and I laughed about that as we got to know each other and enjoyed each other's company. I was her only guest for the week I was there, her last guest of the season. Kaiya House is a beautiful, comfortable place to stay, with people who were focused on making sure I was well cared for. I had a delicious South Indian breakfast every morning, prepared and served by Babaji. And real coffee, ready at 6 AM. It isn't the cheapest place nor is it right on the ocean. But it was perfect for me. The artwork alone is worth the price of admission.
It was a pretty low key week for me. My routine was coffee and email first thing in the morning, followed by a shower and breakfast. Then out and about. I usually walked over to the beach, walked along the cliff, sometimes bought something at the little shops, had a mango lassi at Abba, which became my favorite spot. Watched the ocean, did a little reading, walked down to the beach and let the ocean play with my toes and ankles, sometimes even my knees. Then a late lunch, a little more walking, and back to Kaiya house and another shower, followed by a rest in the AC. Yes, you get the picture. A beach bum. Late afternoons and evenings were reserved for Yoga and meditation, more email, another shower, a mango and a banana on the roof for supper, reading and early to bed.
I met a delightful young Canadian woman in the Chennai airport who was also headed to Varkala. A real surprise, as I'd been thinking about how I was the only nonIndian in the whole airport. Mouette is from Vancouver Island, one of the most beautiful places on earth, and has been traveling around the world on her own since she was 18. We shared a ride from the Trivandrum airport to Varkala, and spent some time together off and on during the week. One of the highlights of my visit was a canoe trip in the backwaters around Munroe Island, which Moette and I did together. Another highlight was an early morning 7 km. walk along the beach up north of the cliffs, with Debra as my guide. I enjoyed spending time with Debra and getting to know her a bit. And I had a fantastic Ayurvedic massage.
And once again I have to say, I wouldn't mind coming back here and spending some more time.
There were lots of jelly fish in the backwaters.
His passengers, Moette and myself.
A natural arch.
We floated by a temple.