Fort Kochi, a quintessential region located around 12 km away from Ernakulam town had me hooked with its magic of hospitality, quaintness, and beauty early on. That magic stayed with me long after I left Kochi and settled into my routine. I think it would be unfair to not mention the after-effects this short trip had on my mental health, my faith, and my behavior. It's safe to say that Fort Kochi has been a good samaritan.
We all agree unanimously that traveling in a COVID year is risky. But, the excitement that dawns on us with the realization that one is finally able to partake in the travel, though it may be in one's own country is beyond words. And especially, when it's God's own country - Kerala! :-)
Where kindness and hospitality intersects
When all your life, as a woman, safety and precaution has been ingrained within you, it becomes extremely tough to believe in someone's good nature especially when it is from someone of the opposite gender. I realized a little too late, that no matter what, there's still an iota of goodness among us that will always make this world a better place to live in! With the constant wariness of being a solo female traveler, my mind escaped this fact completely and kept itself on red alert all the time. Goodness comes to us in the most surprising and unexpected form. I was fortunate to experience this certain goodness through the auto wallah uncle who went beyond his normal job to ensure that I had my fair share of coconut water while in Kerala. 🤭It's a funny story really. That one day in my itinerary, the sun was in such full force that my stomach was rumbling with hunger pangs and my throat was parched. When I asked him to stop near a coconut vendor, as luck would have it, there was not a single coconut vendor in the 18 kilometers stretch!! This made him laugh stating, "Oh my god! You're in Kerala and you cannot see a coconut wallah!". It was ironic really! :)
And this led me to have the opportunity to have my coconut water, meet aunty and a super friendly neighbor of theirs who were equally friendly and oh, so hospitable!
The day when I was leaving Kochi, Varghese uncle bought a coconut for me again! This still brings a smile to my lips and my heart fills up with emotion to have experienced this.
I wish I had some pictures with the homestay owner Henry to remember him. His wife and he were so welcoming during the entire stay with the highlights being the super delicious local breakfast and the time when Henry offered a ride in his scooty for those delicious banana & tapioca chips purchases. ️
There will come a time when my faith might be broken, shattered, or bruised. And during those days, I hope to look back and remember these small acts of kindness and generosity which still breathes their way into some unexpected corners of this world.
Four days of peace, sun, and beauty
The same day I reached Kochi, I decided to walk down the beach to take in the sunset and the sea. A sense of peace dawned on me as I sat on the rocky path overlooking the sea. The wind flapped around my face providing much-needed relief from the merciless sun which slowly disappeared behind the clouds. As I zoned out the external noises and the sweat around my lips started wicking away, I felt gratitude and a tinge of sadness mixed with my calmness. I felt sad for the businesses which had to be closed down permanently due to last year, I felt sad for those lonely but lovely homestays which do not have any single guest to greet, and I felt sad for myself in general for missing out on so much beauty for an entire year!!
My eyes again shifted to those Chinese fishing nets which were being pulled up & down either for fishing or for providing a fishing experience to the tourists. It is believed to have been introduced in Kochi by Chinese explorer Zheng He, from the court of the Kublai Khan around 1350 and 1450 AD.
At last, the sea became alive with lights coming from the stalls, the houses nearby, and the ships which indicated my time to leave the premises and wrap the beautiful evening.
My next few days were peppered with walks around the entire area, passing by St Francis Church, Dutch Cemetery, Princess Street, Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica. There was no entry in the Indo-Portuguese Museum which I dearly wanted to visit. It's temporarily closed due to COVID.
One of the best sightings was during crossing the bridge to reach Ernakulam. The auto uncle kept saying repeatedly it was an old bridge and he expected me to take pictures of the sea every time we crossed it. :) Jokes apart, that view of the sea was so serene and beautiful, I just couldn't take out my mobile to capture. It had to be soaked with my eyes. I did manage though, and here's one decent picture, which I tell you, does no justice to the real deal.
The Dutch Museum aka Mattancherry Palace Museum, Jew Town, and the Folklore Museum in Ernakulam is another of the top few spots, Uncle took me to which were livened with history and art that an art lover will be lost in for hours.
Food & Shopping spree
"Life happens. There is no point in being upset or down about things we can't control or change." - Amy Winehouse
All the restaurants, cafes I had marked for visiting were closed. We kept talking and hearing news about how the local businesses were closed down due to COVID-19. But, when I saw this in reality & my heart sank.
Fusion Bay was one of the seafood restaurants open to visitors. A must-visit for gorging on delicious seafood items. Do try out their local dishes. Being solo doesn't allow one to explore multiple dishes. So, I had to stick with one grilled fish, appam, and an egg curry (it was awesome!).
Kashi's Art Cafe is another spot to hit for chilling out and having some healthy food. Do check out their counter for freshly baked cakes. Carrot cake and pineapple juice were all I could have as both were quite filling and oh, so yum!!
And of course, how can I forget those delicious breakfasts Henry's wife cooked every day? Made with love and presented with care every morning. The breakfasts were my inspiration to wake up earlier than my usual time. What can I say? I love food to death... too much? Nah.. we are good. :)