After a magical week of incredible learnings, connections and inspirational stories, the group of 50 Gayglers ends the week with a social which proves to be a telling and formative evening. It also results in me lying beneath my rain shower at 4am, swearing to never touch alcohol again, while simultaneously catching up on emails (I shall not rest until “woo-hoo, you have no unread emails” appears!)
A few hours later, a group of 8 of us drag our feet to the airport, destination: Kerala, the beachy resort getaway for locals and home of Lonely Planet’s must-do-before-you-die backwater houseboat tour.
Sally’s group has a confusing taxi situation where the phrase “Can’t we just throw some money at this” becomes the coined phrase of the trip, in response to fixing problems. The phrase comes in handy when we check into the hotel, where I learn the 2 rooms for 1 night I booked somehow turned into 4 rooms for 2 nights. Pre-paid and nonrefundable. Not in the mood to deal with this nonsense while nursing a hangover, I throw some money at the problem, change into a swimsuit and head to the pool where I remain for the next 6 hours.
Whilst I eat chicken tikka kathi rolls (aka a burrito) by the pool and try to avoid the loud noises and bright lights, Sally, Eric and MJ book a massage. Let the cultural experience begin. Similar to my massage experience, Sally, Eric and MJ nearly received a happy ending massage. The initimate massage included instructions to put on loinclothes which were promptly removed and proceeded by a naked shower rub-down.
Meanwhile, I drag myself away from the pool just long enough to resolve the room situation and hop in the shower. Mid-way through the shower, the power goes out and I find myself in a complete blackout. I continue merrily on my way, assuming the lights will turn back on in no time. A few minutes later, I call out to Natalie and Ariel, then to “anybody out there”. After receiving no response, I quickly realize they have left the room and taken the room key. Without the room key in the doorslot, the power does not work. And I am all alone in a blacked out hotel room. I ping Natalie with “Help! Blacked out; get your butt and that room key back here!” I grope for a bathrobe and head into the hall soaking wet, just as Natalie arrives bursting into laughter and apologizing.
After the shower, I also realize I haven’t seen my (only) bra (I brought on this trip) in the last day or two. Still nowhere to be found. Good riddance.
The next morning, I wake up wondering if that Indian guy who emailed me “See you in 2 weeks at 10am at Le Meridian” is actually going to show up, to take us on the backwater houseboat tour. Lo and behold, he arrives! While he loads our luggage into his party van, I settle the relatively ridiculously cheap resort bill, and off we go.
An hour into the journey, we see a sign that reads “Bar” and we eagerly ask our driver to pull over, so we can buy alcohol for our trip. And by we I clearly do not include myself in that equation because as we all remember, I had sworn off alcohol a mere 24 hours prior. The bar we head into turns out to be a man bar, with scores of Indian men, gaping at these white women in tank tops and shorts who have infringed upon their place of chillaxing.
We buy our liquor, hop back into the bus, and finally make it to the much sought after houseboat.
We settle into the two boats, and off into the horizon we sail! Within 60 minutes, the 4 of us on Houseboat #1 are sorely missing our comrades on Houseboat 2, and decide to visit them. We dock for lunch, hop onto the island and over to Houseboat 2, which we realize is so much better than our houseboat. We move all our important items (read: alcohol) into Houseboat 2, and let the party begin. We spend the rest of the day marveling at the world around us, giving and getting massages (read: Natalie telling me she likes giving back massages and me taking advantage of that) and enjoying each other’s company.
We make a stop to buy shrimp for dinner (which was lost in translation, and just ended up in me taking a photo holding a shrimp), where we stumble upon a litter of puppies in the trash. I quickly yell “OH MY GOD!”, jump out of the boat as if the ship is going down, and run over to admire the puppies.
We then have a Titanic photo sesh (had to do it), and sail into the sunset.
After a delicious and non-spicy dinner (these guys know what happens when they feed a bunch of white people spicy food and then confine them to a houseboat), we all sit around in a circle and individually tell one another what we like about each other. #Google #kumbaya.
We very quickly get eaten alive by mosquitoes and retire to bed. I have a very sleepless night as the A/C was way too high and the blanket was way too not enough. Sleep deprived and likely delirious, I wake up the next morning, look at the person sleeping next to me, freak out, jump out of bed, run to Eric and Ariel’s room and wake them up with a terse, “Oh my god! One of the Indian guys climbed into bed with me. And I don’t know what they’ve down with Clement!” Ariel sleepily murmurs “What? Let me come check it out”, and walks over to my bedroom. She peeks at the man sleeping in my bed, says “Yea, that’s Clement”, and then goes back to bed. Oops.
I have coffee on deck while the rest of the boat wakes up, and enjoy the hazy sunrise. We all have breakfast together, and our little Swiss Family Robinson adventure comes to a fulfilled conclusion.
We then proceed with our tearful goodbyes, as Group 1 (Ariel, Natalie, Bill, MJ, and Eric) heads back to Hyderabad, and Group 2 (Clem, Sally and I) goes on a city tour, before our evening flight to Delhi.
Our city tour more or less consists of our driver saying things we don’t understand, me getting turned away from a temple for being a little hartlet (shorts, gasp!), and the driver taking us to his friends’ souviner shops. Classic.
We arrive at the airport 2 hours early, where Clem hotspots me and I lap up the internet and powers of facebook/G+ like a starving child.
Next up is India, Part 3: To the Taj!