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Published: April 27th 2014
Eight and a half weeks down. One to go.
With Adina and Lisa having wrapped up their school responsibilities, we headed south from Coimbatore. Our destination - Varkala, a touristy beach resort destination in the state of Kerala. For the next seven days, this is where we set up shop. At this point in the trip for me, motivation dwindles to see and do everything possible. It's not that a 9 week trip is so long at all (not much compared to the 7 month trip in South America), its rather that when you've been traveling for a good while and you have known all along that the end is April 25th, well when that time nears, you're mentally ready to head home. At least for me that's how its been on my long trips and in this case, a thesis still hanging over my head, due in just a few weeks, also makes me feel 'ready' to head home and back to reality. With such sentiment, it was nice to have plans for no plans, as was chosen by Lisa and Adina who wanted a week on the beach for their week off. For this Varkala served its purpose,
but this also means there's not much to this story.
This past week in Varkala was the very tail end of the season there before the monsoons arrive. It was actually the perfect time to be there in our opinion as we avoided the hoards of European tourists that inundate this place during the high season, yet everything was still open and the weather still nice. Each day offered hot and hazy sunshine for the first two-thirds of the day, and around sunset, a distant rolling thunder would gradually get louder until it was right on top of us with intermittent tropical squalls. The setup of Varkala is a stretch of resorts, restaurants and shops, built on a bluff called North Cliff. On the the edge of the cliff is a footpath running across all these venues and towards the south end of North cliff, a stairway goes down the cliff to a large and beautiful beach below where the remarkably warm Arabian Sea crashes ashore. The other attraction of this destination is the high concentration of ayurvedic treatment offerings (though countless of them are inauthentic scam operations). Our days were fairly routine here. Adina and I would go
for an early morning coffee, then Adina would go to yoga (I joined her for a few of the days), followed by breakfast, beach, lunch, beach, dinner, bed... repeat seven times. The primary variation in this schedule for the week was a cooking class we did one day which was incredibly fun. For those who don't know, I love to cook and I love Indian food which is beyond my repertoire, so this was a much enjoyed lesson to see how things are done. And this transition nicely to what was once again the highlight of the week for me: the food, which was repeatedly so incredible, that at the completion of each meal I would long for the next.
The beach itself was beautiful, but enjoying it, and enjoying all of Varkala in fact (and perhaps all of India based on the places I saw), required ignoring the immense amount of trash everywhere. It's one thing in the urban sprawls to see trash along every sidewalk and street, but in a place of natural beauty, like Varkala, its so much more disturbing, disgusting and frankly, sad. It's the complete opposite of Sweden, where trash is a valuable resource,
where the streets of Gothenburg are relatively spotless. Completely unsustainable. The cliff side is covered in trash - cigarette boxes, plastic bottles and bags, and so on. Early in the morning, when Adina and I would head for coffee and the locals were preparing their shops, we witnessed, on numerous occasions, plastic bags of trash literally being tossed over the edge of the bluff. I don't know what it is, and I don't feel like I've spent enough time here to judge, but it seems like littering, whether in a city, in the mountains, or at the beach, is part of the culture and this element of India has been a bit sad and repulsive for me to see. Nonetheless, to have the opportunity to be here, with Adina, and see a part of the world so rich in culture and history, we are grateful. We did our best to ignore the trash, soaking up the sun to bring our tans back to Sweden.
And this we have done. I'm now back in Gothenburg, ready to crank on this thesis. This trip was really incredible from start to finish. Experiences which included meeting all those diamond folk who graciously
shared their time in South Africa and Botswana, frolicking in the invigorating spray of Victoria Falls, spotting wildlife in Kruger and the Okavango, exploring the beaches of Cape Town, Vilanculos and Varkala, and exploring the mountains and culture of Addis Ababa and Ooty. Until next time, much love and aloha from Sweden.
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