12.24 kerala and kritters

kerala is a paradise.

everything is green and lush. and alive.

seriously. turtles appear by your feet. geckos play tag on walls and ceilings. birds swoop into the open-air bathroom to peck in grasses and stones surrounding the shower. sometimes, bugs crawl into your ears and lay eggs in your sinuses and cheekbones...

by day, alleppy - this sleepy little town - is quaint and peaceful. our cottage is in a secluded area, where the beach meets the backwaters about 50 feet from the shore. salt water and fresh water separated by a thin stretch of sand...

as night falls, the town seethes. it's christmas season and that means the streets are packed. music pours out of giant speakers in the streets. roads are closed off to motorists and thousands of people are smushed up against each another, shuffling along the two main drags. it's hard to breathe. at times, the crowd gridlocks. there are NO other tourists in sight... this is a keralan party all the way! families and packs of young men (no packs of young women out at night) visit temples, watch the elephant make its rounds, make offerings to the lingum and yoni statues (representing shiva and skakti, man and woman respectively), take in the devotional singing, eat at roadside stands, partake in candle-lighting ceremonies, watch booming fireworks (indians have a firework addiction), people-watch and visit shops lining the streets.

a bumpy ride back through thickets (we have to 4X4 through forest) and i finally get back to the cottage. i am hot and sweaty and happy. i clean up and want to pass out. on my bed, a giant frog pops into the air and scares my face off. with jangled nerves, i call front desk and perma-smirk guy comes to remove it for me... how embarrasing.

i lay down for a few minutes, the bed claiming my body like a big bear hug. i suddenly hear my mom's urgent voice from the doorway suggesting i sit up fast. on my headboard a bright green gecko peers down at my face.

which means another restless night for me! many people come to kerala to unwind and relax, but not me. i love that this place is so fresh, so green, so alive. i just wish it wasn't so alive so close up in my face...

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