Published: April 2nd 2007April 2nd 2007
One of the more crowded buses on the three legged journey from Varkala to Kovalam, though this photo doesn't do it justice. The only reason people weren't hanging out the door on this one was because it actually had one. Even then the latch on it was jammed into some poor guy's head.
The mission here from Varkala was probably one of the most hectic yet. Two rickshaws at either end and three buses in between. I could've waited for the easier train option, but having gotten up a little late, the next one was too far off. The first two buses on the way to the state capital Trivandrum were ok, but the third one to Kovalam was a nightmare. It took three attempts to actually get on a bus - the first two offerred no hope of making it through the scrum of Indian locals (from children to old ladies) fighting and pushing their way on. The third bus however, myself and a friend making the mission with me, just put our heads down and went for it. We managed not only to get on, but even get a seat! The site of two foreigners fighting their way on to a bus with giant backpacks on was quite the novelty for the locals (I think they'd seen our earlier attempts too) and they were very helpful in the end, especially when it came time to clear out the back half of the bus to let us off.
Kovalam itself was
Catch of the Year
Local fisherman pulling in a catch that occurs less than once a year. Took them ages, though they were extremely excited.
a nice beach, but the hordes of package tourists detracted somewhat from it's potential. Having said that, all the backpackers seemed to know each other and hang out together which was cool. The first night there for example, I found myself wandering the town's streets with a bunch of ex-pat surfers, tryin to find a random bbq that these guys themselves only had a vague invitation to. One restaurant also managed to put on a "party" ever other night, so there was always something for us under-50's to do.
There was this one cool thing that happened here one morning, after my semi-usual early swim, when I noticed a bit of a commotion going on up the beach. Pretty soon, the whole town (locals including) was racing over to a group of local fisherman who'd been pulling in their traditional nets for the last couple of hours. Turns out they'd managed to get ahold of a huge school of what they were calling Butter fish - an event that occurs about once a year if they're lucky. There must have been hundreds of them, and soon enough there were huge piles of these poor, slowly-suffocating fish all over the
I was eating one of these poor little suckers that very night.
beach and in the local fishing boats. I don't have to tell you what was on the menu that night.
There are more photos below