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May 5th 2014
Published: May 5th 2014
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Today is our last full day. Shelly gets up early and does a hike with ‘Baby’ the owner of Vanilla County. They hiked up a hill and Shelly said it was a tough hike. I instead worked on the blogs. After breakfast (a real Kerala breakfast), we hike with our guide Machoo (ma – achew like a sneeze). It was a tough hike downhill to the swimming hole. It took us almost 2 hours. My back wasn’t liking it but the scenery was wonderful and we learned all about rubber trees and bleeding the trees, we saw lemon grass, mahogany, jack fruit, rubber and many other tree types.

Finally we make it to the watering hole. Oh the water was so cool feed from high off the mountain. It was a good way to cool down. 3 young boys (probably 14ish) were there swimming and like jumping/diving off the rocks for us. Around noon we left and Baby picked us up. Off to a Toddy bar (a fermented local drink). We tasted it but we had heard drinking a full glass of it can cause tourist a stomach ache so we just sipped it. After that we left to go find an ATM. You see the stupid place where we are getting the rosewood elephant, ran the credit card wrong so we are paying our guide in cash for it and he will get the money to them. Sigh, it will just delay the delivery and it’s a pain with the ATMs. Many of them are broken. Today we had to go to 3 before we could get the money we wanted. The first one was dead, I got money from the 2nd one, but it ran out after me. Shelly got her money from the third one. We now have enough for the elephant and the rest to pay Anil and a tip for Vanilla County but not enough for a tip for Anil and any gifts we want to buy so we will have to hit one more ATM tomorrow. It’s a real pain.

After the ATM, Baby decided to take us to another local bar. Same story as yesterday but this time he drank too (Anil didn’t yesterday). Baby also took us to see a 900 year old royal house and 1000 year old Hindu Temple. We then drove into town for a bit of food to cook tonight and then zoom, zoom thru town and up the windy mountain roads. He was driving crazy. Shelly got a bit car sick – not really sick but sure not feeling well.

We got back to Vanilla County and had another wonderful meal. It helped her stomach but she still wanted to lay down for a bit before we head to a tea plantation and a spice plantation. So, I’m writing the next blog “up until the nap”.

After Shelly’s nap, we head in the jeep up the mountain to the tea plantation. Now for the Lenoir folks. This road was curvy. Take the old 1930’s Blowing Rock Road and add double the curves. It might have come close to the last 5 miles. Now add passing with the beep of a horn on a blind curve and you might can sense our drive up. Everybody was pointing at us. They just don’t see many foreigners and not many with red hair. We see where the tea grows and learn all about it then stop in a little village where we buy some tea to bring home. I meet this little girl who’s grandmother wants me to take a picture of. Well she’s not much interested it in. so I take a picture of the grandmother and show her, then finally capture a partial picture and show her and finally she lets me get a picture. She smiles when I show her the picture I took. I give her the change from our purchase to buy some candy at the store.

When we get back, Shelly lays down again. I meet and talk with the Switzerland guest who got here and stays for 2 months on and off. She is a character. I then get a cooking demonstration from the owners. I hope I wrote everything down correctly. I’ll try some of these when I get back. Watch out beach, Claire is going to try something new.

Dinner with the Swiss lady, she really has some interesting stories and Baby and his wife join us for part of it. It is a really good evening.

Sigh, our trip is almost over. We go see some elephants pulling logs… in the morning and then come back for showers and to pack up. Anil picks us up at 2:00pm 12:30 am to y’all (on the east coast) and we drive to Cochin to the airport. We will fly from there to Mumbai where we catch the Delta flights back home – Amsterdam, Atlanta, Wilmington… I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip as much as we have and I’ll be working on my next travel Shutterfly book as soon as I get home.

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