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Published: January 27th 2010
There is nothing like a dirty bathroom to make you appreciate a clean one. In fact, for the last few days my mood seems to be directly linked with the cleanliness of my hotel room! Today I am the happiest I have ever been since I left Goa! I am in heaven, don't even feel like leaving my room anymore... But first thing first...
My last evening in Alleppey was very pleasant. The guest house where I stayed was so cute, it looked like a houseboat, and there was a big sitting area where a whole bunch of travellers ended up drinking beers and chatting. I met people from Italy, England, Iceland, and even Canada! I spoke my real Quebec French with a girl from Montreal, it was great! We exchanged travel stories and the Italian guy told a story about a rat eating his soap in his hotel room in Jaipur. We all laughed, except maybe Pieter who had a rat in his room. Oh well, I thought, it happens. So after I had supper and said good night to all these new friends, I went to my room to wash my hands and take my contacts off, but... my soap was gone!!!!!!!!! I laughed and went back to the sitting area to warn the others that indian rats REALLY like soap!!!!! Still I slept all right in my tiny but cute room telling myself that my mosquitoe net would keep the rats out of my bed!
The next morning I said goodbye to Pieter and went on my own adventure... I ended up going to a kind of Nature/Humanity Center that someone recommended to me. It was off the beaten track and I figured just getting there would be an adventure. It went quite well to find the place but once I got there, although they knew I was coming, it was VERY strange. They had told me over the phone that they were VERY busy and quite happy I would show up to help but when I arrived nothing was moving. I sat there with 3 Indian men and waited, waited, waited. Then they gave me food, a place to stay (small basic but clean little brick cabin) and told me to rest, they would come back later.
So I waited, and read, and wrote and got really tired of listening to some kind of prayer that was playing very loud in the village nearby. So I finally got out again and tried to find the director of the centre. I told him I had very little time (I was supposed to stay 3 nights) and was hoping to learn more about the centre, what I could do now or later if I could come back another year for a longer committment. Anyhow, to make a long story short, I felt really uneasy there, didn't feel like I had a purpose and also realized that the story was quite sad. This really nice director who put a lot of energy in this centre to save biodiversity, grow organic plants and spices, teach kids about the environment, etc is now almost blind from some disease. He still tries to keep the centre going but obviously he can't do it by himself and his wife tries to help too but it is just too much for them. So I supposed I couldn't really help with the little time I had. They were very kind, but still I felt really weird over there and the bathroom I had was just another one that didn't make my day: when I had to go there, there was no light inside so it was quite dark. As I pi-pied in the toilet, something came right out of it. Thank God it was only a frog. But yet it was a bit surprising. Then I washed my hand and a few dozens of huge ants started running like mad on the floor. I came right out and decided to drink as little as possible that day and forget about the shower. I went to bed fairly early, (with my clothes on, that's how ready I was to leave the place!) having really nothing else to do and slept well until the hindu music started VERY loud again at 5 am. Apparently (so said the director) it is some kind of hindu book that they read for 7 days for some kind of festival. He said with a smile: "But nobody understands anything". Well, it was quite annoying, and I used my own iPod music to cover it until there was enough daylight to pack my stuff and get ready to go.
I said goodbye to the family, their situation made me feel really sad, but I didn't feel like I could really help and after many not-so-clean bathrooms in a few weeks, I felt like I needed to get back on the quest for a better situation! I took a rickshaw to the bus station. It is a strange experience to be in a bus station where everything is written in a script that I don't know at all. Malayalam is the language here and I don't know a single letter. Few people seem to speak English and I really struggled to figure our which bus to take. I saw dozens of buses coming and going and asked half a dozen people: "This one Mundakayam?". They always said no. Until finally, an hour later, a young girl pointed a bus and said "This one!". I would have kissed her. I was relieved, after starting to think I would never leave this village.
But what a trip! This bus was so old and decrepit, of course the driver was going full speed and it was a hilly, twisty road, and I was bracing myself not to hurt my bony hip into the metal frame of the seat. My lady neighbour was more cushioned, but I don't think she enjoyed my falling on her side too much... The scenery was beautiful though and I managed to relax after a while. From Mundakayam I had to take another bus to reach Kumily, a small village at the entrance of a Wildlife Sanctuary. All went well and finally I arrived early in the afternoon to this cute village and found the most amazing guest house. I usually try not to spend too much money on my rooms, but when I arrived at this guest house and they showed me the only room they had left (their best one), I fell in love. At first I said no, tried to find another cheaper one but later changed my mind and went back. The room is big, and it has its own very private balcony with bamboo furniture and a hanging cushioned bamboo chair. Oh, and it has a spotless bathroom big enough to do a yoga practice in it, and I burnt myself with the hot water. What else can I ask for... Well, better yet, the owner, a super nice woman had probably noticed I hadn't had a meal in almost 24 hours (other than a few cookies), she offered me a delicious breakfast that I immediately wolfed down. I love this place! I haven't seen anything of the village or the park yet, but just for this one night in luxury, it was worth the trip!!! As my family always said:" I can live in a very basic way but I adapt very easily to luxury". Well, for less than $20, it is a place I will never forget!
So tomorrow some exploring of the park... Today I enjoy my princess life!
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