Our quick departure from the beautiful backwaters of Kerala took us from humid tropical jungles to the clear cool fresh mountain air. No need for air conditioning in Periyar, at least not this visit!
This morning we awoke to birds singing in the trees. I took my sketch book and paints out to the porch, a perfect way to start the day. The staff were busy preparing cottages for arriving guests, but we were at leisure because India was on strike! No matter who explained it to me I just couldn't understand. I guess being from Canada is one of the reasons for this. Could you imagine your country going on strike for two days? I love India.
Strike in India: Reason behind Bharat Bandh
The strike meant only that we had to stay in Periyar. The shops in the town were not open, our driver was having a holiday. We had a tour guide and he was willing to walk with us so after breakfast we met him in front of the hotel and we walked. Everyone was excited we were going to see the elephants and if possible ride them. It was a pleasant walk, with very little traffic and to our delight the monkeys came to the road to watch us.
The Elephant Junction
What a morning it turned out to be! Riding elephants, watching them have their bath, feeding them bananas and to top off the excitement, we each took a turn having the elephant bless us. How does an elephant bless you? You muster all the courage you have, stand before the elephant and slowly the elephant places his/her trunk on your head. In your mind you say, bless you, you smile and move so the next person may receive a blessing.
After watching all the blessing taking place in Rome this week I wonder if the Pope could use some help?
Our tour guide took us into the jungle to see where many of the spices we use came from. I was amazed when he stopped at a tree and scraped away a little bark. Smell here, he said, so we did... Cinnamon! I didn't know that cinnamon was a tree. There is lots I don't know but each time I travel I learn something new. I have to or my trip is not a success. This trip was a success, over and over again. Now to remember.
Back at the Spice Village lunch was being served. We had the option to eat in the main dining room or try the outdoor grill. The grill it was! The sign said "Prawns 800 INR'S", this is about $16,00 CAD so sharing with someone made the meal the right price. The prawns are huge and oh so tasty. While waiting we enjoyed the day, a perfect temperature, guinea fowl scampered across the lawn, the gin and tonic was cold and the chef in his tall white hat, under a canopy of orange flowers, grilled our lunch.
Back in my room my laundry was waiting. The Dhobi picked up my things in the morning and returned them clean and pressed, in a lovely wicker basket. You don't have to take too many clothes to India because this special service is available in all accommodations. Everyone wants to take the Dhobi home. I think we might have passed him while walking in the village. He stood at the side of the road, his iron heated by coals from a fire (this is the same iron we see in our museums that were used by settlers to Canada when there was no electricity).
The Dhobi does a beautiful job and for someone like me, who only irons when it is absolutely necessary, a big big treat!
Resting and relaxing in Periyar.