sir, you have to go sit and wait because the flight is overbooked. you’ll probably be able to get on, but just go over there for now.
what you always like to hear when you are flying to a new location on vacation. mumbai to the world’s longest town name: thiruvananthapuram, capital of kerala. we sat and waited, and a few moments later, she brought over our boarding passes. in an exit row even! chardi kala as we russayogi’s like to say (meaning unbounded optimism).
two hours later, and all i can see from the sky are palm trees. thousands of palm trees.
we land and hop into a taxi. the driver is bumpin’ awesome beats, and i am all smiles. and this song is playing in my head.
all beach towns are the same. you can’t teach it, you can’t explain it, but they have all got it. run down one story shacks. palm trees. the ocean attitude.
we are in the jungle. ideal ayurvedic resort in chowara beach village. just walk down the red dirt road, through the open field of drying laundry, and enter paradise.
now, we are not talking about pristine five star amenities, we are talking about natural. open windows that let the smell of the chicken coop waft into your room unexpectedly. heat that makes you sticky. bugs that march over you as you sleep. salamanders that scurry across the ceiling. bats that swoop over the pool at dusk.
it is a nice change of pace. breakfast takes at least an hour to get to you. and so you sit because life is easy and slow and it’s okay. there is no place to be except here.
and the beach.
sybille and i walk down to the beach and immediate are befriended by two thirteen year old boys, michael and john. really those are your names? yes madam, we are christian.
and then three more boys appear. two who are older, 20 and 21. in college. one studying psychology to become a teacher.
they sit and teach me malayalam, the local dialect. i instantly whip out my iphone and record their lessons. i point to body parts and they name them. i point to the sky, sun, water, rock. parra is rock. i remember that one. they ask me questions about where i am from, what i do. you own your own business? like you are the boss? yep. i am the boss.
we climb across boulders to escape the flooded stagnant water that appeared yesterday. we can’t get to the actual beach unless we wade across. not today. tomorrow i will adventure to the waves. today i will sit on the boulders.
they of course want to take photos, and i of course want to take photos. snap snap snap. and what else is on your iphone madam? music? do you have gangham style? no, i don’t. no worries, we do!
they lead us back away from the others (to avoid embarrassment), and then we dance gangham style. four indian teenage boys and me. there is video, but this moment is pretty engrained in my head for life. little john has this big teethy grin that goes on for miles and could light up anyone’s day. add that with their crazy dance and high spirits…pure magic for this girl.
we followed our dancing with a bit of yoga. they told me these were soccer stretches, not yoga. we balanced on the rocks in tree pose.
they warned me of the cactus by my foot. and then they filled up with energy as i watched the next brilliant idea cross their minds.
michael hopped around me and picked the flower/seed pod off the cactus. he ripped it open, and the red juice squirted all over his hand. then, like any teenage boy, he acted out his best bloody hand scene complete with sound effects. another joined in, and we were turning this peaceful beach getaway into a playhouse. just the way i like it.
we tried some of the gooey red goop. it was sweet and dyed our fingers, lips, and tongues. no worries. they rushed over with some crushed leaves and began furiously rubbing our fingers. sure enough, it was fading the red. natural soap.
as the sunset, we headed over to a big rock to sit down and enjoy. michael and john snuggled up on either side of me, and we took more photos. cheery cheery (instead of cheese). we made faces. played patty cake. my energy matched theirs and the oldest said, “you mental madam.”
they asked to see photos of my home. we browsed facebook. they told me which photos were good and which were bad. we browsed my photos from this trip. they have never really seen other parts of india. wow, mumbai is pretty. india gate! we have seen that in movies.
and then, when it was dark, they all walked sybille and i up the big hill and back to our hotel. michael asked how old i was. 26. whoa, really? you look a lot older than that. i informed him that in america he would look about 9 and not 13. that shut him up. they made us promise to return the next day after they were done with school. around 4pm.
glowing. how can a girl like me resist a night like that? it is not the landscapes that make different countries different, it is the people. and for me, it is the children. their curiosity. their innocence. their energy. their smiles.
end the night with a delicious bowl of soup and cup of tea. by candlelight, poolside. bats swooping overhead. lightening in the distance. thunder rolling in.
drift into my sweaty, sticky slumber until the rooster crows (literally). tomorrow we meet the “doctor” to find out our “treatments.” i am definitely going to opt in for the $8 facial. we shall see what else the doctor prescribes…