I feel like everything has slowed right the fuck down since I got to Kerala. Everything. My natural walking pace has gone from “relaxed amble” to “practically backwards” and my food consumption speed has had to be re-designated “acceptable rate of shovelling,” two notches down from the previous “rapid inhalation.” The locals are so friendly and chilled out and even the sellers up and down Varkala’s north cliff won’t hound you mercilessly to buy their things. Oh, they’ll ask you if you’ll please look at their shop or eat at their restaurant, and they’ll ask you every bastard time you walk past, but they won’t chase you up the street whilst trying to shove cards and flyers into your hand. I suppose this is to be expected in a state where the mere act of breathing causes you to lose enough fluid from your pores to raise sea levels to a point that the Maldives islands should probably start shitting themselves. Yeah, I can get on board with this pace of life, where all creatures great and small just get on with shit.
Apart from the fucking mosquitoes anyway. This is what it must feel like to slide down the fucking food chain, I’m gonna need a blood transfusion at this rate. You’ll be sat there minding your own business, slowly emptying a glass of chai into your facehole when you’ll feel like you’ve just been stabbed with a rusty nail and a mozzie the size of a tiger will be attempting to make off with a limb. They’re vicious, and they hunt in packs, and every shop in the whole of Varkala will overcharge you for a bottle of Odomos and I’m so bloody stubborn I’d rather risk dengue than pay ₹150 for something that’s meant to be ₹80.
So I ended up coming here with Beth and Scott who I went on the Alleppey canoe tour with. I bumped into them at the bus station and we spent the ensuing twenty minutes pestering station staff to find out which bus we were meant to be on and every time, we were told to sit down and wait. Eventually we were bundled onto a near-full bus, shoved to the back where I slumped onto my bag and poor Scott and Beth had to stand up until seats became free. Once we pulled into Kollam, everyone got off. Like, everyone. We sat there wondering if we should do the same. Beth spoke to the driver. Apparently he was out of oil and this bus wasn’t going anywhere. Weeeelllll that was nice of the conductor to tell us ay! We crammed onto another bus and settled in and thank fuck Beth tracked our progress on Google Maps or we’d have ended up in bum fuck Kerala, she realised we’d driven past the turning for Varkala, we asked a few people if this bus was indeed going where we though it was and were told that no, we had to get off at the next stop and catch another bus. We made it in one piece though despite cramming the three of us and all of our bags into the world’s tiniest rickshaw to get from the bus stop to the cliffs where all the action happens.
And the waves here, they’re awesome. There’s nothing like spending an afternoon hurling yourself into waves that sometimes reach about 8 foot. I even attempted a spot of body surfing. Y’know, that near-impossible thing where you try and catch a wave without a board. In my head I would face the oncoming wave, judge the speed, turn at the exact right moment and overarm crawl to the crest of the wave as it carried me gracefully to shore.
The reality is more of a frantic, mistimed doggy paddle resulting in a severe dumping and several seconds in a washing machine before I stumble to my feet, drain the salt water from my burning nasal passages and check that my tits haven’t escaped from my sports bra and that my shorts are still in place. Usually this is followed by promptly getting bowled over by the next wave. My salt intake has increased by approximately 74%.
Varkala, Kerala, India
Stayed at: Heavenly Breeze