So when I posted last, we were leaving the jungle clad hill tops of Wayanad heading back to the beaches. This time Northern Kerala, specifically Thottada and Kozhikode (Calicut) where we would bid our farewells to the grandparents.
The beach at Thottada was nothing like I was expecting, often when you travel following the guide book you head to places described as 'deserted’ and 'off the beaten track’ only to find lots of tourism has developed (usually during the two or three years since the guide book was edited and you arrive, places catch up to accommodate all those intrepid travellers who set out to find the undiscovered place). So we were expecting Thottada to have a smattering of accommodation options and restaurants to choose from and maybe the odd souvenir shop. But much to our disappointment there was next to nothing there.
We like a bit of tourism, we're tourists after all; we are definitely not the ones who revel in finding a deserted empty beach. We're not into eeking out a holiday, we like it a bit easier than that. Turns out here, we were the only people on the enormous beach. Well that is until our arrival sparked some curiousity amongst the young local men who parked themselves, rather unnervingly, in two groups just behind where we'd set our towels down. As it turns out they meant us no harm but were just surprised to see 7 white people of three generations on their beach.
The waves were smashing, quite literally, so after five minutes of survival all that was left to do was sit and read or build sandcastles. The lack of restaurants meant we ate every meal at our guest house, the cooking was lovely but the serving left me feeling a bit uncomfortable as the owners and two staff would sit behind us and watch us constantly so they could advance and refill any part of the meal which we were near to finishing. Mikey's beer run helped a bit but we all felt ready to move on.
We did get to visit a Theyyam which was our main reason for staying here. Mikey stayed home with the kids and me and the grandparents squeezed into a tuktuk and headed off into the villages inland. We got there just as the first dancers were on: three huge men dressed in magnificent scarlet and gold costumes with red makeup all over them. They were frighteningly menacing to look at and quite accomplished in their act; their hopping their enormous weight on top of tiny stools whilst fire was lit all around them, was particularly impressive.
There followed two more dancers again in voluminous costumes, some wielding big swords and some dancing on fire. It was a sight to behold and although we stuck out like a sore thumb as obviously not one of the villagers, many people spoke to us, although not in English, so I've no idea what they were saying but the tone and gestures and smiles all lead me to believe it was all friendly.
Exhausted by the late night Theyyam, we left the next day by train to Calicut (Kozhikode). India is still in the process of renaming cities, a process which started with independence from Britain in1947. Now, I’m aware there are a lot of cities in this huge country, but seventy years on and still some places are so newly named they go by both names.
Kozhikode was a breath of fresh air, despite it being a city. We had found a gorgeous mansion right by a beach ten minutes north of the city to stay in for three days and it could not have been more perfect had it tried. The Jackfruit Tree Inn was right on a clean, almost private beach, where the water was calm for swimming and there were dolphins not twenty metres from shore every morning. The owner and his sister came to meet us when we arrived, she heavily pregnant and really interested to hear our outlook on travelling with young children. They couldn't have been nicer and Jitesh, the day manager was a godsend. He took us shopping, rang for takeaway for us. We even had wine with dinner! Indian wine. Indian wine that was drinkable!
We enjoyed our last three days of luxury in this enormous house, Mikey making pancakes for breakfast, desperately trying to swim with the dolphins and generally relaxing with Ayurvedic massages and hammock hanging.
It was bliss. Exactly the way to end the trip for the grandparents.
We made it to another festival whilst here, Jitesh knew of one happening locally which was coming to an end. He warned us it may be very busy but we went for it.
Nothing ventured nothing gained.
We taxied round the backstreets till we came right to the back of the parade. We squeezed past the drummers and joined the throngs of dancers. Looking round, just two minutes out of the taxi, all of us were already jigging away a little. It was truly infectious.
The blue band village adopted us and wouldn't let us walk any further ahead than their group. We all had blue ribbons tied around us and were well and truly welcomed into the parade. Otto was the star on Mikey's shoulders or dancing to his own beat he had an entourage that sometimes seemed to be keeping even us at a safe distance from the mini demi-god. He loved it!
A fitting end to a great three weeks with the grandparents. Three states visited, seven hotels slept in, two wild elephants spotted, two festivals attended, many temples and palaces visited, two cameras lost, 1,000km travelled and lots of great memories to take home. We're all missing them for sure.
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Kelly and Mikey (but mostly Kelly). We sold up in the UK to travel with our two littluns for a year or so. If you want to know more click the about us!