We have just finished two days and nights on a houseboat cruising the backwaters of Kerala.Paul Steele, you know exactly what I am talking about!
We were on a boat just for the three of us with a crew of three: Saba, the captain; Joseph, the second mate; and Radha the cook. I should actually call Radha a chef as the food he produced was brilliant. We had traditional Keralan food with lots of coconut in it. His banana fritters were lip-smackin’ good. Just a hint of cumin in the batter.
We cruised on still waters past coconut lined waterways where people were living on tiny strips of land between rice paddies. There were bright coloured Portugese-style houses and churches every couple of kilometres.
All day long we heard the slap, slap, slapping of clothes being washed along the water’s edge. Fish were scaled and cleaned on flat rocks and kids bathed and swam in the canals.
Men in their lunghis worked in fishing boats and on work boats, forever tying and untying their lunghis as they went: short, long, short, long.
Every now and then we passed duck farmers. These guys in canoes were herding thousands of ducks along the waterways , poking them with long sticks to get them to either go into the water or back up onto land. The ducks moved on the water like a swarm of bees. One flock we saw would have had 50000 ducks in it. That’s a lot of Christmas dinners!
It was a wonderful experience and we were glad we did the two nights, as it meant we got right away from the rest of the houseboats on the second day.