After waking up in Kochi, we travelled a short distance to the beautiful backwaters of Kerala in Alappuzha, India. The Kerala backwaters have been alluring foreigners and Indians alike for centuries. Parallel to the Arabian Sea on the Malabar Coast, there are 900 kilometers of canals, waterways, lakes, and lagoons. The Kerala backwaters boast an extremely diverse ecosystem of fish, birds, and other aquatic life, though I am almost certain recent pollution is putting it at risk. These backwaters have provided an economy reliant on agriculture, fishing, and tourism. See the map below for an overview of the Kerala backwaters.
As you can see, the Kerala Backwaters, located in Southwestern India, join with the Arabian Sea on the left of the map. The brackish water is what, in part, makes the ecosystem so diverse. We were near Alleppey, also called Alappuzha. I think it would be interesting to study the health impacts of pollution to the ecosystem (see "Disease Ecology" in 'Useful Links').
On the drive there, I noticed many communist symbols painted and dozens of flags flying. As it turns out, one of Kerala's main political parties is the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Although the Congress Party won in the last election, the second most popular party is the Communist party, and they are behind only by a narrow margin (see "Communism in Kerala" in 'Useful Links'). Nationally, India is actually heading towards a more two-party system with factions similar to the Democrats and Republicans like that of the United States.
CPI stands for Communist Party of India, and it was common for these symbols to be on outdoor walls in Kerala.
Upon arrival, it was clear that we were about to embark on an awesome ride. Smriti booked a houseboat, called a kettuvallam, for the 10 of us through the entire night. The boat featured 5 rooms, an eating area, and a place for lounging. That night, we decided to dress up in formal traditional Indian clothes for fun. Girls wear Sarees and boys wear a Kurta (top) and pajamas (pants). It is very hard to put a Saree on and takes much patience, but the end result was awesome! After wearing a Saree for even just a couple of hours, I have so much respect for women who wear them everyday (even though it would become easier over time I am sure). The meals on the houseboats were delicious, my favorite item being the local bonefish and dal for dinner. Because pictures definitely describe this day better than words, see the photos below!
View from the front of our houseboat; the boats all look similar and have thatched roofs.
Emilie, Tazeela and I in our Sarees!
Michelle and I! :)
Smriti did such a good job helping us putting our Sarees on, and looks great herself!
Sometimes I worry about these two...
The camera loves us?
Ashlin and I :D
The blissful Kerala backwaters
Can you say girl power?
A flooded field at sunset
Drifting houseboats at sunset, what a lucky life
I love these people!
I will never tire of Indian sunsets. Alappuzha, India.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed the photos from Day 3 of travel week! Within the next couple of days, I should have Kollam (Travel Week, Day 4) posted...the adventure doesn't stop here.