day twenty-one: spices spices tea tea

rise and shine (insert cedars camp song here amy and dan). field trip to munnar day!

pile into a car at 6:30am and drive drive drive six hours to munnar, the city of tea plantations and spice fields. a quick stop at a halfway restaurant for breakfast full of “homely flavours” and then back on the road.

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a little bit before munnar, we stop at a spice garden for a tour. i learn about rubber trees, touch me not, cardamom, nutmeg, cocoa, papyrus, and so many other herbs and spices. we walk through the garden with our guide learning all the ayurvedic used of each plant. touch me not is for migraines. funny.

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cardamom.

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black pepper.

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and nutmeg.

and then we head into their small shop.

up to this point, i have managed to fit all my purchases into the two bags that i brought on this trip. not anymore.

what? saffron for $4? um, yes please. so all of load up our bins with spice gift packs and homemade chocolates and masalas and coffees and teas and and and and…

i will definitely need to buy another bag to fit all these goodies, but i cannot wait to make my own warm milk with saffron or cardamom. yum.

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after we shop, teresa and i decide to make a stop at the fish pedicure stand they have set up at the entrance. yes, i said fish. have you seen these? for a couple bucks, we sit down and stick our feet into a tank of water full of little pirañas or something like that. the lady called them “thailand fish.”

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oh. my. gosh. what a strange feeling. a hundred little fish mouths eating the dead skin off your feet. it felt like a bunch of little painless shocks, and it tickled horribly. but ten minutes later, my feet were so soft. my dancer/climber feet were so soft. amazing. i can’t figure out why this hasn’t taken off in america yet. maybe i’ll just set up my own home fish pedicure station. although, i need those dancer/climber callouses, so maybe not. maybe one day.

we get back in the car and continue along the curvy mountain roads marked every 100 feet with signs reminding us this is an “accident prone area.” going higher and higher in elevation, getting better and better views. the tea plantations roll over the hills. the bushes covering the land with leaves greener than portland forests during the rainy season (yes there is a “rainy season”). the bushes all form symmetrical rows creating a sort of an organized checkerboard.

near the top, we reach munnar. a small town in the midst of all the tea plantations.

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we walk through a beautiful garden and take in the sunny day.

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we eat lunch at a fancy restaurant overlooking the mountains and plantations.

we breathe in the beauty.

and then, we pile back in the car for the six hour car ride home. yep, we did it all in one day. i am pretty sure i have driven this much in one day before, but man oh man, it was a lot of car time. luckily, staring out the window at the views was pretty occupying. a good way to see a lot of landscape in a short amount of time.

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we breathe out the beauty.

and then, we are back in fort cochin. and the strike is over. and the traffic sucks. the empty city has disappeared. horns are honking. we are not moving. welcome back to indian reality. it was so nice to experience the city on strike first. the silence, the calm. but the reality is welcome too. the noise, the excitement.

as we get closer to our hotel, we pass by a huge festival complete with men dancing on elephants and loud music. the city is alive. india is alive.

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i need to keep myself alive, so i head back to the hotel and do some work in the hotel lobby. now, when i say hotel, i really mean a small homestay with probably six rooms. and when i say hotel lobby, i really mean the living room of the house.

i sit on the couch, plug in, and tune into all the clients who make my adventures possible. as i try to work, the innkeeper and his buddies keep trying to give me a beer.

no thanks, i’m trying to get some work done.

five minutes later…

are you sure? you want a beer?

nah, i’m good. got to get some work done.

five minutes later…

you can have a beer now?

hah. oh gee golly gosh. i show him what i am working on and explain my company and what i do. he is like, ah you are like me, work 24/7. yes, yes, i am like that. okay lady, do your work, but the power is going to shut off for 30 minutes from 10-10:30pm just so you know.

don’t worry, my computer battery lasted during the random power outage that they knew about. apparently it happens every night? still didn’t figure that one out.

late night. pack up. prepare to head back to mumbai. the last leg of this journey.

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