Kovalam Beach, India at Last
Now I am in Kovalam Beach which I hear is the most beautiful part of India…I guess I am easing in slowly. It is ridiculously beautiful here. I got up after 4 hours on the toilet (due to a component of the Ayurvedic treatments I am undergoing, not illness) and felt remarkably good. I planned to go for a swim so I had minimal stuff with me. I wandered down the narrow pathways to Kovalam Kitchen (so far the cheapest and best food I have had here) and ordered puttu, which is wheat and/or pounded rice that is placed in a tube (traditionally of bamboo but commonly of steel, like the rice tube I had in Bangkok) with some salted water and then steamed until cooked. A round roll of delicious rice is produced that is then dipped in fresh coconut shavings at either end and served with a small amount of curry sauce (masala). It was highly satisfying with ginger tea. I felt ok, time to make my way to the beach.
I got there and sat in the shade of the police stand, as usual but much earlier than usual. The vendors on the beach were HUNGRY. I got approached from every which way by every type of vendor with things that I could never imagine wanting. Eventually, someone came over, a guy, so also kind of hesitant, and started talking to me. He told me about a beach beyond the lighthouse with no vendors, just tourists. I thought to myself, <<that sounds miserable as well>> but I thanked him and took my cue to head towards this other beach. I went and saw it and then decided it wasn’t going to be my thing and kept walking.
I wound up at the aquarium, which I wanted to see and was probably not worth going to and then entered a residential Muslim part of town where people pretty much ignored me. I rounded a corner and there was an older man with a stick with a bag attached to it and he was using it to gently guide a group of 20 or so ducklings to their destination wherever that was. Best reuse of a plastic bag ever! It was so freaking adorable and surprising to round the corner and see this sight; I desperately wanted to take a picture but alas, my phone was back in the room and also I am sure this is the only thing that happens when he sees outsiders and didn’t want to give the wrong impression.
I kept walking and arrived at a beach with many large fishing boats on it all empty. I am sure what ever happens there on a regular basis happens hours before I arrived there. It was too far until I reached the fish market which I wasn’t super into and not enough going on for me to stay where I was so I headed back. I found a pathway through a group of shanties down to the beach which was littered with garbage with waste running down the side through a pathway of more garbage. I met an old lady who looked welcoming enough but then she held out her hands indicating that I should give her money. I kept on walking. This beach wasn’t super pleasant so I soldiered on over a few rocks to the beach on the other side of the lighthouse. By now I was super sweaty and it was time to swim so I took the opportunity. I couldn’t stop thinking about the waste water streaming into the ocean a couple hundred yards away…Also there was a mysterious foam that didn’t instantly dissolve but rather lingered much like what you remove when clearing the surface of a stock. Time to get out.
I headed past the “DANGER ZONE” sign which I figured was put there to deter people like me from climbing over the rocks because I saw several locals climbing around beyond where I was. I did not want to walk back the way I came. I made it to a beach that was inaccessible from land and perched for a bit appreciating the private beach with the waves crashing on rocks. After some time, I took a path over the next set of rocks, quite a bit longer. I heard the loud thump of coconuts dropping from trees closer to shore. I looked up to see two trees with boys at the top cutting coconuts for several other boys and a couple of men who were waiting below. One of them decided to help me discover a path over the rest of the boulders and grabbed me a coconut. We stopped in a shady spot and he peeled the coconut and cracked it so I could drink the juice which was amazing and then opened it and took off the shell to reveal fresh, delicious coconut chunks. It was a good break before the tail end of the journey over the rocks. I finally made it to the original beach wondering at the old men carrying bundles of sticks on their heads and easily making their way over the rocks.