We spent two nights in Kochi after leaving the houseboats. This is a medium sized city just inland from the Arabian Sea, but connected by a net of waterways. Sometimes this area is called "The Venice of the East, because everything is built along canals and waterways, and much of the movement is by boat. Kochi was founded by Vasco da Gama in 1498. He came for the spices, but ended up staying for the rest of his life. It is a city heavily influenced by European style - Portuguese, Dutch and British occupies have left their heavy marks in the architecture and tone of the site. So much so, that I had a hard time remembering that I was still in India. It is a tourist town, full of shops and restaurants and bars. Many homes are painted in lurid bright colors, magenta, lime, lemon yellow Walking around the streets is safe and easy and pleasant, unlike many places we have been. It is hot and humid even though this is technically winter here. Our hotel there was an old colonial building, heavy dark woodwork, a pool, and funky plumbing (shower flooded the bathroom every time!).
In the way into town we stopped at a coir factory, very old style, like pre-industrial-revolution, where workers sit in the dust and spin coconut fiber into ropes and then into doormats and jute rugs
We visited the old Jewish quarter and synagogue that centuries ago had thousan of residents but not has only eight elderly remaining Jews, not enough for a minyan. We went to a museum, also in an old Dutch building and s stuff from the royal family of Kerala, including stunning wall frescoes of scenes from the Ramayana (sorry, no photos allowed).
We visited the harbor and saw the old Chinese fish net system, still in use, that has been there for centuries. We watched the fishing boats come after dark in from the sea and unload crates of silvery squid and kingfish and shrimp into a bustling fish auction. We shopped until we dropped, took long walks, ate great meals. Then on Saturday morning, we flew to Mumbai, our last stop. More about that soon!
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