When I left off we were hightailing it out of the WelcomHotel Raviz Kadavu in Calicut since the President of India would be arriving in a few hours.  And NOT to meet 30 international bloggers.  It was a gorgeous morning to get up early…

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We had a LONG day ahead – lots of time on our special Blog Express bus – and a few stops.  The first was about 2 hours later at a premiere Dance School for traditional dances called Kerala Kalamandalam.  It is a full boarding school where children go at age 8 and undergo strict training in the traditional dances of Kerala and of India as a whole.

It was a holiday but there were plenty of smiling children.

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And it is amazing that almost all children here speak their native language Malayalam and English.  Even if they don’t…they all know the word SELFIE.  I’m not sure what this says about the world…

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but that I will ponder another day.

One of my favorite things about the people we’ve seen in Kerala is the way they touch.  May sound strange but young boys put their arms around each other and hold hands…it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.  Here is our photographer Jins with some young students.

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We walked around the school but since it was a holiday, we headed to the performance hall/beautiful temple.

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The men train in flexibility, in body, face and hands, to do a very stylized and very traditional dance.  No words, just hand motions and exaggerated expression.

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The eyes and brow and even cheeks move in a way I didn’t know was possible.  I have much practicing to do before the mirror.

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The women are absolutely gorgeous – and dance in the style I most associate with India.

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We had an INCREDIBLY long bus ride ahead and pulled into the ancient seaport city of Cochin at about 10pm.  I was crazy exhausted and cranky…quickly to sleep.  Because the morning in Cochin TOTALLY revived me.  A bustling, crazy, exhausting, colorful, loud, gorgeous, ancient city mixed with the brand new.  A mash-up of people, religions, cultures, tourists…

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I REALLY like Cochin.  And I’m thinking a total color change to my home and wardrobe.  Bollywood style.

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We arrived at the Fort area and were surrounded by amazing crafts and salespeople.  You want to say no but the craft…the CRAFTS! are so amazing.

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Seashells.

Just color…everywhere.

Just color…everywhere.

And bargaining is the name of the game.  A game that I play very poorly.  It became embarrassing comparing the prices that other bloggers got the same item as me for.  YOU PAID WHAT?!?!

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The man selling painted dry leaves…so pretty.

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I’ll take two.

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We stopped along the river banks to watch fishermen that still use technology brought by the Chinese in the 13th century.  This ancient fishing nets.  I’ve never seen anything like them.  Giant lever systems that sift a few fish at a time out of the water with an incredible amount of effort.

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And our team pitched in to haul in the net.  (I think a bit of a show for tourists…we got three fish…but still interesting…)

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Photo below by my roommate Brittany of TheSweetWanderlust.com

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Here she is chatting with an older fisherman.

Here she is chatting with an older fisherman.

We headed to two major tourist attractions the Dutch Palace (which has some gorgeous wall paintings but no photos allowed!) and…it’s not my wording…Jew Town.  Actually amazing since it is home of the oldest and still running synagogue in Kerala.

 

The entrance to the palace.

The entrance to the palace.

And one of the older parts of this beautiful city.

And one of the older parts of this beautiful city.

The area is full of shops and cafes…it’s lovely to stroll about…and shop.  And to see…everything.

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Lovely Irish Breifne of BreifneEarly.com (if you want to feel like an absolute couch potato, check out his site) and lovelier Aussie Sarah of FitTravels.com…outside the synagogue.  Again, no pictures.

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A very young salesperson.

A very young salesperson.

Some amazing jewels that I tried on.  REAL!  Everyone at the shops is so lovely…I can’t believe she even let me touch this much less try it on!

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I loved it so much, I had to visited again today.  And now I do have a new wardrobe of Ali Babba/Princess Jasmine pants…look out Belize!

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Silks and sequins and silver, oh my!

Tomorrow, I’m on my own rupee.  My own adventure.  6 more days.  I am taking the train from Cochin to Kavala Beach.  I hear (from the New York Times) that it is the new, low key Goa.  I WOULD be the judge of that…but I’ve never actually been to Goa.

The trains book up fast here so I didn’t get 1st class…I didn’t get 2nd class…we shall see how it all goes.

Namaste!  I can only hope for better internet at my next locale.

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I’ve always dreamed of India…but never pictured it at ALL like this.  Kerala really has been the trip of a lifetime.  I am one lucky blogger.