Kerala pt 2

            I’m burnt on my face and right hand and forearm. This is what happens when people aren’t around to remind me of stuff. I was a little unaware of what I was getting myself into today, in my defense. Breakfast came late, so when Muni came in the rickshaw, he ended up waiting a good 40 minutes for me to come out. We went to Chokramudi, the tallest mountain in the region, or so I was told. I’m relatively in shape, so wheezing was a big shock to me. I only remembered around twenty minute into the trek and at our first break that we’re at a high altitude. My friend said that high altitudes don’t affect everyone. It’s my kryptonite I guess. It was very hard for me to breathe, I wasn’t tired; it also wasn’t a super easy trek as it was very uphill 80% of the time, but I couldn’t breathe. We took frequent breaks and Muni never said anything except once to say that I was tired. I tried to explain the altitude thing but he didn’t seem to understand.

            We made a few big stops at places with extraordinary views. Often we were stuck in the middle of a cloud that was coming from below us. It was beautiful. It was good to have him around and worth getting a bit ripped off. He saved us twice; we almost walked into a beehive in the ground and he stopped us, then later he picked up a rock and threw it ahead. Apparently there was a small snake. I also would have never found this place to trek. On one side of the mountain there was the rumble from machinery that we could hear even at a higher altitude, on the other side, silence. So when we got to a comfortable place on the other side, we stopped for a while. It was really nice. He also took out two small packages of chips. At the top he asked me about lunch and I said I’d figure something out. He whipped out a tiffin of rice, fish, and curry sauce to put on it. He was very sweet. His sister in law made it. Apparently his brother got the fish yesterday from the lake. I only brought oranges and the one I gave him was no good so I felt bad. A few times we were smack in the middle of a cloud. It was awesome.

            Figuring out my weakness has made me very fearful of Sikkim, which I think, is at a much higher altitude. My abs will at least be strong from breathing so hard. After a long rest and relaxation at the top to enjoy the air, silence, view, and feeling of being at the top, we descended. I kept slipping on the dirt and we started keeping track and laughing about it. By the end my legs felt a bit like putty.

            He had to change into his rickshaw clothing when we got back so he made me walk ahead. It was a really nice trek. We assumed a slightly different relationship, more of driver and passenger once we got back. Next we went to Hydel Park where I moseyed around while he napped in the rickshaw. It was nice and some young girls who were quite sweet questioned me. It’s hard not having email or phone access, so I spent the time with reception texting friends trying to help me figure out next steps.

            There was a brief trip to some tea and cardamom fields where I saw a nice big snake who ran away before I could even react. Then he dropped me into the town where I went back to the same tea stall from yesterday and then went to another. I wanted to see if there were any differences in the tea. Here people also have milk-less tea. I didn’t have that and also didn’t find much difference in the teas either. Here they say chaiya not chai. I had a deflated but very yummy samose as well. At the second stall I was joined by a rowdy group of drivers, one of whom asked my good name asked if I wanted a cab and then proceeded to peer over my shoulder to eavesdrop on my writing. All of the men he was with had moustaches.

            At 5 I went to a Kathakali and Kallaripaittu performance. The Kathakali was difficult to watch because they showed only bits and pieces. It was good because they spent a half hour explaining what all the different emotions and motions were, but then we only saw a piece of an actual program. The Kallari was amazing! There were four younger men who performed. One of the Vipins (there were 2 Vipin, Atul, and one boy whose name I couldn’t pronounce or remember) asked if I could do a bit of capoeira for them so I showed them two moves. They were super sweet.

            After a quick call I headed back in the rickshaw to the hotel. As promised, Muni asked if it was my turn to drive. So I drove! It was pretty awesome, but then just like normal driving after a few times. The gear shifts are in your left hand, but that’s the only difference. I felt a bit like a rock star. A quick dinner later I’m passed out.

 

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