A huge thank you to Sedan Shakata... read on

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Asia » India » Kerala » Varkala
December 27th 2006
Published: February 12th 2007
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We had planned to get the bus from Alleppey but ended up with a taxi, I think we were getting too used to our comforts, but it was a hassle free if cramped ride along the coast. When we arrived there was no room at the inn and annoyingly the mobile number, we had all been trying for the past few weeks with no luck, worked - it really is hit and miss sometimes with the communications. Plus we’d been driving round and round the town trying to avoid the taxi man’s commission hotels and then to top it off the resident elephant was blocking our path; needless to say it was a tad stressful in the midday heat but we dumped our bags, had some food and Jess and Sue set off to find some accommodation. Success, and we were soon climbing down the cliff to the beach, jumping waves and gazing at the fisheagles in the sky.

Our days at Varkala were for the most relaxing and restful and I really enjoyed the opportunity to stay put for a few days, with friends, after all the weeks of traveling alone, trains, buses, unfamiliar places. We found centres to practice yoga, although the first one for me had a little too much downward dog, so I moved to a Sivananda trained yogi who explained all the postures and preliminary techniques really well and I found myself progressing. I even managed to hold the crow for 20 secs; yoga bore yawn!!

There were also great places to eat, even if the service was notoriously slow - it’s India after all - Prawns, fish, curries, pizza, muesli fruit curd, cocktails, fresh fruit juices, chocolate pancakes, brown bread… In fact it’s a good thing I was doing the yoga, my twiglet goal took a nosedive.

We also managed to secure with a fair amount of flirting and persistence a beach hut, our original choice, much to Jess and my delight, reminding us off previous happy traveling days in Thailand. But this time we had upgraded and had our very own bathroom, a pleasant smell of Jasmine and enough space on the bed!

New Years was spent by the beach and dinner watching the Bollywood dancers at a cliff top restaurant with Leah Zacks, a very old school friend. I rarely bump into people I know but Jess had returned from the beach saying she thought she had just seen Leah, so off I set and managed to accost her just as she was entering the sea. Years ago she’d contacted me via friends reunited but with the usual pressures of life I’d never responded and lost her contact details before I had the chance. I’d have liked too and now I have. Tick… um if only some of the plans were so easy, I’m still not sure about Skippers Canyon in NZ or skydiving! Anyway we managed to have a dance, be it that we were the only ones on the dance floor and returned home happy with a balloon each!

When we weren’t at yoga, eating, sleeping, planning our next adventure or pampering ourselves at the local beauty salon - threading for 40p! we were by the beach. Our favourite being Black Beach to the North which was pretty much free of hawkers and gawkers but through personal experience I can confirm it’s definitely one of the most dangerous beaches in Kerala and where I experienced one of the most exciting slash terrifying moments of my life. Jess and I had gone out to jump the waves when an unexpected strong undercurrent formed, I swum towards the shore and turned around to call Jess when I noticed that she was swimming as hard as she could but going nowhere, I couldn’t reach her so stepped further into the water, out of my depth until we were able to grab each others hands and hold on for dear life, literally. The next moment we were both engulfed by a huge wave, our feet swept from under us as we tumbled over and in what felt like a second were on the edge of the rocks trying to hold ourselves upright as we were pulled in all directions, Jess crying for help and me unable to see because of my contacts. We needed to act and in a moment of sight I noticed the life guard had come down to the beach, so I waved at him for help and in Hoff style he stripped off, jumped into the water and caught both Jess and I by the arms just as another wave came which would have taken us further onto the rocks. It actually wasn’t that deep at this point but the power of the currents, combined with the rocks, surprise and speed of the event gave us both a fright. Word of advice never enter a rough sea humming the baywatch theme tune and joking about being rescued by a hunky lifeguard! Thank you Sedan


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