We finally had a real tourist outing. In one of our many trips to the dentist, the doctor or the mall – we came across Varghese, who drives for Uber. Varghese spent nearly 20 years working for the Catholic Church in Dubai. As a result of that experience, Varghese speaks very good English, at least English that we can understand. He also takes people out on private tours, and turns off his Uber-meter. Together with Peter and Donna on SV KOKOMO, we took a day trip to the Athirappilly and Vazhachal Water Falls, managed by the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department – and finished at the Hill Palace just on the outskirts of Kochi. The total driving distance was just under 200 km, but it took us out of the city and into the back areas, where there was lots of unspoilt jungle with monkeys and other wild animals.
At the Athirappilly Water Falls, the ground was uneven and challenging for me to walk on, but I trudged along, determined to get some mileage in and see some of the Indian wilderness.
I promised Varghese that I would immortalize his image on my blog, so here he is together with Peter.
Much to my surprise, up there in the hills I found this police station just for tourists.
Our next visit was to the Hill Palace at Tripunithura (just outside of Kochi). It was the imperial administrative office and official residence of the Cochin Maharaja. Built in 1865, the palace complex consists of 49 buildings in the traditional architectural style, spreading across 54 acres – although I have to admit, I only covered a fraction of this territory.
The complex has an archaeological museum, a heritage museum, a deer park, a pre-historic park and even a children’s park – although I didn’t see it, and nobody could take photos of it anyway because they confiscate your camera and cell phone at the entrance.
Presently, the palace has been converted into a museum by The Kerala State Archaeology Department and is open to the public for a small admission fee. My impression of the Hill Palace is that it a little worn and tired looking, basically in need of a paint job – although this photo certainly makes it appear to be in very fine condition.
While in the grocery store yesterday, I came across this display of cricket bats, pretty much dominating the sports section. There was no baseball or ice hockey gear in sight.
It has been nearly 7 weeks since we arrived in India, how time flies! This is a typical sunrise at the marina. The water is quiet and there are only a few boats on the docks.
At the 3 week point, as planned, I embarked on my Total Knee Replacement surgery, addressing an injury that came up about 1.5 years ago. Although I was able to walk, sometimes for 10km or more in a day, over the past year I was often in great pain and the bone-on-bone grating was just getting worse. Rather than fly back to Canada for the surgery, I decided to have it done here in India, at a fraction of the cost. The planned recovery would be done entirely in our home, our boat. The surgery was done by Dr Bibu George at Aster MedCity Hospital (a large, private care facility right here in Kochi). This is the Johnson and Johnson artificial joint that was selected for the job.
As I write this blog, I am now 26 days post surgery. Three days after the surgery, I walked out of the hospital with a cane, not a walker, and not crutches – a cane. We stayed in the Marina House hotel (part of the Bolghatty Resort Complex) for the first 4 nights and then moved back onto the boat. I have been walking unaided since day 7, when we moved back onto the boat and I ditched the cane. The staples and bandage were removed on day 15, and I was permitted to resume my daily swimming pool “activity” from day 18. The pool has made a noticeable difference in my recovery, but of course – so has my daily self-paced physiotherapy. On discharge from the hospital, I was given an exercise sheet to follow, and I do the necessary exercises nearly every two hours through the day. At first, when walking, it felt like I was walking on a prosthetic leg, and I realize now that this was because my thigh quadriceps had been cut/altered with the surgery and I had to relearn how to walk and build those muscles up again. Every day its getting better, but I’m still not walking more than about 1.5 km. I’m sure this will gradually increase over time – as will my flexibility.
We are still going to the market, at least once every week. Last week we bought a fresh chicken from this man. When I say fresh, I mean the bag was still warm when I picked it up (and not from cooking).
I also bought fresh mutton from this man. He told me that he only operates his shop in the mornings. Its actually his father’s shop, but his father is off wandering about India right now. He tends to save up money for 6 months and then leaves to go travelling for 6 months – and then returns to repeat the pattern.
We had to buy some rice a few weeks ago, and although this is a fuzzy photo, it does illustrate the variety and volume of rice available at this one shop.
I took this photo of Nazar one day, he was a bit sad because his Tuk-Tuk had to go in for extensive and expensive repairs. His Tuk-Tuk is his way of making a living, and he needs it back on the road.
Here, Nazar’s Tuk-Tuk is in the shopping getting the full treatment.
His little grand daughter helps to cheer him up.
On another day, after his repairs were made, Nazar took us to the “Indian Cafe” near the court house for lunch. The food was Indian, of course, and of good quality and low price (they are all cheap, unless you eat where the tourists go).
This food server was even dressed in a uniform to suit the establishment.
We’ve had a bit of bother with the local tour boat operators and some of the fishermen. These tour boat operators are coming closer and closer to our boat. They are loaded up with tourists (sometimes on two decks) and pass by often only a meter or two from our hull. I’m afraid that one day, one careless Captain is going to scratch/dent the side of our hull – and then there will be hell to pay! We’ve written to the Port Captain, the Marina Manager, the Resort Manager, everyone but the English language newspaper (not yet) and there are signs of improvement, but in our opinion – it is still a risky business. Not only are these boats passing unnecessarily too close to us, but it is a gross violation of our privacy. These people are leering and taking photos and they are so close I could reach out and slap them! Diane has taken to sitting on the back deck, with the water hose in hand – ready to give a soaking to any boats the pass too close — and she has soaked several, with cameras and mobile phones in hand! This is a photo I took of some jack-ass fishermen, two minutes after they accidentally bumped into our hull, twice, at 8 o’clock in the morning. What the hell? The river is flat calm, 300m wide, with not another boat in sight. Why in hell are they bumping into our boat? I sure gave them a piece of my mind.
Next week, we’ve arranged for our very first day tour, a bonafide tourist trip that will take us out of Kochi, away from the boat, away from the market and the mall – if only for a day. I’m looking forward to it!