Varkala

Up even earlier today – 5.45am to visit the action of the fish market! It was a 15 minute drive away. And even at 6am the roads were teeming with people, tuk tuks and goats. It seemed that many were going to the fish market. Women lined the streets with large tubs on their heads, either full of fish, or going to be full of fish, depending which direction they were headed. The dockyard was crowded. People and fish moving in all directions.

Boats were unloading, fish were being auctioned off and others sat in bucket after bucket. It was endless. So many fish, crabs and prawns. Some had prices, it looked to be about 10-20p per small fish. People pushed past with buckets, trolleys and just holding fish. There was a cutting up area, blood pouring from it, and frantic money exchanges. There were yellowfin tuna, the biggest I’ve ever seen. And I’ve certainly never seen them that large whilst diving. And a blue marlin the size of me. Such a shame. The marlin had sold for £200. What a waste of an old oceanic fish.

There weren’t many reef fish – I guess they don’t have large reefs here. But there were some very large angel fish. But what really saddened me was the end of the dockyard. Devil Rays. Over 50 of them. Basically a large school. Mostly nearly 2m or larger, piled along the side of the dock. No one seemed particularly interested in them. The guy said they eat them, but I doubt it – the gill raiders sell for Chinese medicine. And these are an endangered species. The number I’ve seen in the ocean – 2. They are just being fished away. So awful. It was sad.

Back at the hotel, I packed and we headed off in a small bus at 9am.

About an hour into the journey we stopped off at a cashew factory. Here cashews are processed from plant to final nut. Cashew trees grow all around here. The fruit is a bulbous red squidgy fruit (which tastes like a horrible, bitter sponge – I tried some in Nicaragua last year), and on top a green cashew shell.

To get the cashew nuts out, these green tops are roasted. They then turn hard and can be cracked open. This is done by hand (by hitting the shell), or by a special cracking machine which is just a large vice type thing. Next, the hard coating on the nut is removed. This is all done by hand.

Rows of women surrounded by pots. They were so quick removing this coating, then the nut is put into a pot – too burnt, a bit burnt, small or good and pale. We got to have a go, sitting for a while with the women. It was quite hard. By the time I had done one, she had done about 10. The women usually work half a day – tending to their families in the afternoons. They are paid 30p per kilo of nuts. That’s a lot of nuts. So they earn about £2 per day.

Then the final hour drive to reach Varkala. We passed so many fruit shops, bananas of all sizes – red, yellow and green – I wish we could have stopped.

We arrived at 12pm. We’re staying right on the cliff front. The touristy part of Varkala is along a strip of beach, at the top of a cliff. All along are palms. It’s pretty. We had lunch at one of these cliff side restaurants, I had a vegetable curry, it wasn’t that good. But the banana, pineapple and coconut smoothie was really good!

I wandered around the shops along the small street, just elephant trousers and tshirts really. Nothing too interesting. No local crafts. The south really is so different. So I just bought a few pairs of trousers. £3 each. Then I went to sit by the beach, under a palm and enjoy the view.

Sunset was just after 6pm, it was really pretty.

The golden sun dropping down behind the row of Palm trees which lined the shoreline. We headed out to dinner at 7pm, but I wasn’t hungry so just had some fruit.

Friday 24 April 2015

Doing nothing today! I didn’t manage to have a lie in, I’ve been waking too early every day and got into the habit now. We went out for breakfast at 10am. I didn’t feel like much, so just had some fruit. Then we went next door to use the swimming pool. £1.50 for an hour. It was so nice!!! So cool and refreshing, as its again so so hot.

The pool looked out onto the palms and the sea, it was really pretty. After our hour was up I went for a walk. I headed down to the beaches further away from the touristy area. Here it’s more local. A shrimp farm. And small fishing boats. You still can’t swim in the sea here – strong currents and red flags were up. But I tested the water, it was quite pleasant! The sand was a dirty colour and it was far too hot for enjoying the scenery.

I was feeling a bit hungry now. So went for some late lunch, I had a dosa masala, but it was a bit disappointing. They are usually really crispy, but this one wasn’t and the curry wasn’t as good as usual. At least it only cost £1, so not a massive waste of money. Then the rest of the afternoon I just sat around not doing much. I packed all my things away and was looking forward to the sunset. However, then I heard thunder and it started to pour down with rain. No sunset then! We headed out for dinner at 6pm. In the rain. I still wasn’t hungry, so just ordered some vegetables. Suddenly the rain stopped and the sky was completely bright orange. It was so cool!!! I didn’t manage to eat much dinner, I just wasn’t hungry.

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