Adventures in and around Varkala

Adventures in and around Varkala People had told me that Varkala is a pretty chilled out place, especially for India. They were correct. It’s an excellent place to enjoy life and just take it all in.

It helped moving to somewhere with a balcony, pool, and a sea view.

It helped moving to somewhere with a balcony, pool, and a sea view. It also didn’t hurt finding $100 bill. We gave it all away.

Where I stayed for 6 days, Krishnatheeram.

Where I stayed for 6 days, Krishnatheeram.

Lex and I spent hours drinking coffee and laughing at Cafe del Mar.

Lex and I having our standard 3-hour coffee and laughs at Cafe del Mar.

We watched the sunset daily from somewhere on the cliff top

Watching the sunset daily from somewhere on the cliff top

Having dinner with Eyal, Lex, and Anna at Abba.

Having dinner with Eyal, Lex, and Anna at Abba

Looking down the beach at loads of people

Looking down the beach at loads of people. This wasn’t the kind of beach to wear a bikini. Tourists do, but locals stay on the beach and swim fully clothed. Even while I was wearing a dress on the beach, a man made a lewd comment and gesture toward me.

Going for walks along the cliffs and down to the beach

Going for walks along the cliffs and down to the beach

After days spent lazing in Varkala, it was time to take a little trip out of town. Lex and I rented a motorbike and headed north in search of some more remote beaches and local Indian flavor.

Crossing over the palm tree bridge to the beach in Edava

Crossing over the palm tree bridge to the beach in Edava

Locals were continually both fascinated and confused by Lex.

Locals were continually both fascinated and confused by Lex. They would say, “You look like Indian people,” and then probably think, but you don’t talk or dress like it.

IMG_2478 IMG_2493 We ended up getting a little bit lost… …but these boys were ready to give us directions. (My favorite part is hearing the brakes when the second set of boys pull up on their bike.)

They got on their bike asking us to follow them to the nearest food stall.

After trying to give us verbal directions, the boys got on their bike gesturing for us to follow them to the nearest food stall.

Lex having a masala chai at a local tea shop

Lex having a masala chai at a local tea shop

Quite accidentally, we ended up in Kollam, which had an India-meets-Coney-Island feel to it. IMG_2501

Roasting peanuts on Kollam beach

Roasting peanuts on Kollam beach – delicious

Other food stalls we were a bit too afraid to try

Other food stalls we were a bit too afraid to try

We bought a kite to give away to the first  kid who wanted one

We bought a kite to give away to the first kid who wanted one

Lex getting his fortune told by a bird

Lex getting his fortune told by a bird

Here is the bird fortune teller in action. I shudder to think how he was trained.

After Lex, I got my fortune told.

After Lex, I got my fortune told.

I got Ganesh!

I got Ganesh!

Although my picture was different, the written fortune was the same. We figured he probably just had one version in English.

Although my picture was different, the written fortune was the same. We figured he probably just had one version in English. “Don’t worry – be courage” the lesser known hit by Bobby McFerrin

This gives the sense of the Coney Island amusements

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this place was called Mahatma Gandhi Park. It gives the sense of the Coney Island amusements, though clearly in India

One of the funniest things at the park was a haunted house, which seemed to have been both designed and operated by a group of 10-year old boys. They were enthusiastic to lure us into their dark, cavernous, house of fright.  It was very cute and provided a lot more laughs than screams. OK, the one skeleton that popped up did scare me a bit. IMG_2524

cute kids everywhere

Cute kids everywhere

After a fun day out, it was time to head back to Varkala, but, to continue with the theme of the day, we didn’t really know how to get there. At the gas station when asking directions, people pointed in two completely different directions, which wasn’t very reassuring. We decided on what looked like the more direct route. After at least 15 minutes of waiting at the railroad crossing this happened… We ended up on a highway in rush-hour traffic and then it started getting dark. When stopping for directions, we were told a variety of ways, if people even understood us. One man corrected us on our pronunciation, “Oh, you mean Warkala! In English it’s Warkala. In Malayalam it’s Warkala.” Oh, I see. Now that we can pronounce it, how do we get there? After endless wrong turns, small village roads, near misses with buses, and hitting potholes in the dark, we arrived back in Varkala several hours later without even a scratch. Thank you iPhone, Waze, and Lex for being a tech savvy driver.

Back in the peace of Varkala

Back in the peace of Varkala

IMG_2541

More coffee and laughs at Cafe del Mar. Unsuccessfully trying not to crack up and Lex's pose

More coffee and laughs at Cafe del Mar. I am unsuccessfully trying not to crack up at Lex’s pose.

IMG_2530

For the final day in Varkala, it was time to shop and have clothes made by the tailors .

For the final day in Varkala, it was time to shop and have clothes made by the tailors

Burying and being buried in sand while fully clothed

Burying and being buried in sand while fully clothed

This tailor, Anthony, finished sewing our silk items by candlelight...and with a smile

This tailor, Anthony, finished sewing our silk items by candlelight…with a smile

Goodbye Varkala

Goodbye Varkala

It's time to take a northbound train

It’s time to take a northbound train

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