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Published: April 30th 2014
We wake up this morning and pack up all our stuff. No matter what happens we are going to move from the hotel. $400+ a night is just too much. But, we are keeping our fingers crossed. We head out towards breakfast but stop at the SpiceJet office. I was sure nothing could be done to get on that flight but Shelly wanted to try anyway. We showed them we had a ticket for yesterday’s flight and had tried to cancel it online. They said we had succeeded and that the credit card had been credited. They said today’s flight was full though. But Shelly to the rescue. “isn’t there anything? Can’t we go standby?” Then they finally said if anything did become available they said “it will cost too much”. Shelly asks “How much?”. Oh like $300. “ok, we can pay that”. Next thing you know they are on the phone. They tell us to come back around 10:30. There are 2 seats held for air marshals but I guess if we are paying $600+ they might give them up but won’t know until 10:30. Perfect as we will know about or Visa at 10.
Off to a quick breakfast and back to the hotel. At 10, we had to the consulate. The visa lady had a big smile on her face and handed us our visa. Wow, we did get them early. We thanked her again and again.
Now, back to SpiceJet. We get there and they are on the phone and Yea, they get the flights… Total cost $687. But in our eyes that is still cheaper than the other options and gets us in today instead of tomorrow. The other flight is slightly cheaper, but then add in hotel and meals, this flight becomes cheaper. We had them the credit card to pay. Oh no, they don’t take credit cards only US$. Oh my. We tell them we will get it. We head straight to the bank. It’s a long line. I count my US$ $340. Shelly heads back to the hotel and gets hers about $200. I finally make it up to the counter and the lady says she can give me US$ but only if I have Maldivian Rufies. Ok, to the tell and we take a bunch of Maldivian currency out. Back in the long line. The line is taking forever. I ask Shelly to run back to the hotel to see if they can convert, no… So I send Shelly to the Spice Jet office with the $500+ while I wait in line. I finally get there. This teller tells me they don’t sell US$, what??? The other lady said they did. They talk for a while but still will not sell me those, but they will sell me Euro’s. I figure the airline wants hard currency so I buy the Euros and head to the airline.
I walk in and tell them the story. At first it didn’t look like they would take the Euros, but they agreed to. On top of that they didn’t like some of our US$ as they were worn or torn. In the end we paid with a mixture of US$ and Euros and they took some of our worn bills. Note, there were no $100s in the pile a lot of $10’s, $5s, $20s and even some ones. It was a crazy. We got our vouchers. They told us we had to be checked in before 1:30 or we would lose our ticket.
Back to the hotel to get our stuff together. I was all packed. Shelly was mostly packed. We check out, get the hotel’s water taxi to the airport and make it through security. We head to the gate and one of the side agents walk up to us. Oh no, something is wrong. Nope, turns out we are famous and had actually overpaid for the flight and we got a $52 refund. But all the gate agents said we were famous.
We had to wait in the waiting area to learn what gate we would be at (after the inbound flight landed). They gave us the gate a little less than an hour before the flight. We headed down to it, but bottles of water with all our remaining money, then they called for boarding 45 minutes before takeoff. This plane was a small turboprop and they are boarding 45 minutes out, ok. We all get on the plane. I think Shelly and I are the only non-locals on the plane. The plane then pulls back from the gate 30 minutes before takeoff, does it’s preflight and takes off 15 minutes early, HUH???
We make it to Cochin. Yea, I can’t believe it. I had to go thru the Red line in customs, carrying too much Indian money – the money to pay our guide for all our hotels, stays, food, …. But that was no problem as long as I’m a tourist. We then meet our guide, Anil. He has the car at the airport for us.
So, he has changed our itinerary all around to work with our new schedule. We will miss the first homestay and other stuff is out of order but this is going to be a great trip. Today we drive to Fort Cochin. India is interesting, some like you see on TV, but at least in Kerala, it is not as crowded as you see in other cities. I did see a man walking a cow in the road, lots of scooters, lots of construction,….
On the way, Anil asks what do we want to do tonight. He had a friend call him and invite him to the Cochin Yacht club for dinner and drinks. He said he had 2 clients along and we were invited too. We said sure. So we stop at our hotel, check in and freshen up. The hotel is the Koder House. It was built in 1808. Our room is huge. The furniture is antique. We even have a dressing room. I think we are the only guests. This is out of season.
Now, off to the yacht club. We get there and the club is on a river, a really pretty scene. This is a private “country club” not just a side of the road place. There are Anil, Shelly and I and 6 of the guide’s friends. Everyone seems to be in their 40s-50s. It was a good crowd. Shelly and I order a beer; everyone else gets a brandy and puts soda water in it. They start ordering appetizers and passing them around. Ware sit around all night ordering drinks (Shelly and I switched to the brandy and soda, which is very good) and eating all kinds of appetizers. Our favorite was these peanuts with finely chopped onions, some hot pepper, lime juice and garlic. I’m going to have to recreate the recipe. We stayed until about 10:30, and then they called a driver to get us back to the hotel since our guide had had a drink (we knew about this beforehand and had agreed to it). Back to the hotel and we crashed.
Oh, so 3 of the 6 guests want Anil to stop by their houses on our trip and have dinner or even stay there. We told Anil to just do what he thought was best. He knows we like the local flavor and not the tourist traps so we will see where our India adventure takes us.
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