Friday, January 18, 2013

Easing into India ~ Varkala

Finally, finally, finally.... INDIA!

The avid travelers mecca. The backpackers most glorious dream and worst nightmare all rolled into one. The serene and the smelly, the spiritual and the down right dangerous, the delicious and the disgusting, the elation and the food poisoning, bring it all on. I had been craving the cultural experiences as much as the dodgy situations for a while... Europe was a blast, but I still needed something more. That's the thing when you've been around the world - it takes a little more to shock, a little more to wow and a little more to unnerve you every year, every month, every country, every hostel. 

So finally, on October 24th 2012, I landed in India! Trivandrum, to be exact, in the south western part of the country in the state of Kerala. I chose to start in the south as the weather stays warm all year round, knowing the north would be getting very cold in no time. The 3 flights it took to get there (Tbilisi > Baku > Doha > Trivandrum) went by without a hitch, watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother, watched one of my favorite documentaries, Life In A Day, and had my last glass of wine in a good, long while. 

Upon walking out of the deserted airport at 5 a.m., I was "greeted" by a brick wall of Indian people, all silent and (seemingly) staring at me while waiting for their loved ones to come out of the airport and go home. I busted out a laugh... not exactly what I was expecting to see when walking out of the door while it was still dark out! On the 1 hour taxi ride to Varkala the sun started to come up and for the first time I could see the red, dirt roads, the towering palm trees everywhere, the men walking around in lungis (a sarong, worn in hot climates), the women in saris, the tea stalls everywhere on the side of the road, the people walking around barefoot or on bicycle --- oh my God, I thought my heart was going to burst with excitement... back in ASIA! It was at that moment, after that feeling, that I realized no other place in the world suites me so much as this continent. We stopped and had a chai on the side of the road and eventually I got dropped at the Shiva Garden Guesthouse, where I promptly passed out for 5 hours without even realizing I had closed my eyes. Woke mid-day to explore this beach town and my first locale in India. Not a bad intro!

A typical day in Varkala - breakfast at Cafe del Mar, beach, lunch at any one of the places along the cliff, beach, Juice Shack for a fresh drink, nap, dinner at Ottupura, the cheapest veggie restaurant in the area.

The north cliff, lined with restaurants, cafes and shops.

During the mandatory power cut from 6:30 - 7:30, all meals are by candle light. Awww. With Caroline from NYC at the Chill Out Lounge.

Classic! Indian people are always in groups, holding hands and fully clothed while in the water, I love it!

Private room at Shiva Garden, 250 rupees ($5). The family who owns the place is incredibly sweet, the vibe is super chill, the home made Kerala food is excellent! 

Surely all of India won't be as aesthetically pleasing or as incredibly simple as Varkala, but for the first week of a 6 month stay....I'll take it! 

"The most exquisite paradox: as soon as you give it up, you can have it all." - Ram Dass


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