The most popular trip was sold out -- boat rides through the islands.
We were told that they were trying to arrange more excursions, but the problem was finding enough small boats.
Since that was out of the question, my second choice was to visit a village. Because I live near a small village in the summer and am always interested in what is going on there, I thought a small hamlet in India would be of equal interest to me.
Greg, Wyona, Moiya and David felt the same way so we signed up for the same trip.
|... on the way to the village ...|
The ride to the village would be an hour, we were told.
Greg said afterwards how surprised he was, since an hour ride to a village seemed to us to mean that we would be seeing the countryside.
Instead there were stores and houses along the road, almost until we arrived at the village.
People were walking along the streets, families drove by on bicycles, and trucks whose cabs were psychedelic works of art were parked by the sides of the road.
|... village drummers welcoming the tourists...|
We were met by village drummers.
And then we transferred to a tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw) for the rest of the journey to the village.
The transfer did not happen without resistance.
I have been warned so many times not to engage in conversation with anyone approaching me with an offer of a local tour, that I walked by the first 6 tuk-tuks, thinking it was my job to walk to the village.
|... Moiya's head marking begins to wilt ...|
I would have never made it in the heat.
Afterwards someone said, "The bus tour guide should have explained to us that we were to get into those vehicles."
I didn't agree because no one could get enough explanations to take care of all of the vagaries that happen along the way of such a trip.
|... a moment together in the village ...|
I do not know which was more surprising to me of the following three things.
First a small boy motioned to me that I should put down my head, and he put a flower lei around my neck.
Then a woman came by and made a red mark on my forehead.
Then a huge coconut with a straw extruding out of the top was thrust into my hands.
I could just hear myself thinking ... boy, this is already a lot of fun and we haven't even entered the village, really.
|... a candid in an Indian village ...|
The general theme was to show us the village: a woman making clay pots, another woman weaving baskets, and a third preparing herbs to cure headaches.
We saw a man doing silver smithing; we watched women preparing lunches for their families.
|... am I in that picture? ...|
I am having some trouble with the text of this post, since one part of the tour felt like we were going from station to station, as we would if we were going to see a group of students displaying their science projects.
On the other hand, there was this amazing feeling of being in the jungle, hearing the sounds of the birds, being overwhelmed by the humid air, observing the details of the jungle growth, walking on the dirt paths and turning corners around trees and walking over planks that crossed streams.
|... everyone's turn for a funny face ...|
The little boy who had put the wreath around my neck followed me along, asking my name, practising his English on me.
I began taking pictures of the flora and fauna, but their little faces were far more interesting to me.
Wyona said to me, "Where are the girls? We haven't seen any of the girls."
"I noticed that too," I said.
Wyona asked one of the women where the little girls were.
And soon the little girls appeared -- so sweet, hanging onto their mother's hands.
I was worrying that I would not be able to fully experience everything around me.
I was taking pictures of clay vases by the side of the road, of the washing hanging by the houses.
Why am I always taking pictures of that, I thought. Venice. Rome. Egypt. Alexandria.
I want to see that invisible work of how people really live.
|... Greg pauses in the jungle shadows ...|
But somehow it is more than that.
I want to see how they hang the bananas by the side of the store, where the little stream runs to, ask why there is only one bucket by the well
I am charmed by the 3-person toilet that has been set up for us.
"You aren't going to use that," a woman said to me.
"Are you kidding. I am trying everything whether I need to or not," I reply.
I am still working at making this whole experience complete.
The village is working hard to show us how they live.
I want to do my part to take enough in that I can work out the bits and pieces I don't understand when I get home.
|... capturing the serenity of the village ...|
When I saw this quiet stream running beside one of the paths, I thought it captured what the village must feel like when it is quieter ... not on display.
|... a complimentary snack ...|
So beautiful, the cottage on the other side, the well tended paths, the hedges carefully planted and trimmed.
Coke or coconut shell with straw
Complimentary snacks -- that is what the tour guide told us about the L-shaped table.
Coke or cocoanut milk.
Your culture or ours.
I have been running my set of photos from the village on my desktop since I got home.
I stop each day to take another look at the magic of a small Indian village in the province of Kerala.