Kaivalyam, is an organic resort with purified water. Our meals include produce grown on the property. Even the coffee is picked, roasted and ground here. The food is clean, we can eat raw vegetables and it’s a welcome treat. The owners, an Indian couple with one child, left the IT world to fulfill their dream and build this beautiful place. Harish leads a lovely, mindful yoga class each morning. I have a sitting area with a wall of windows. Early morning, trees are blowing, can’t tell if it’s cold out there. It looks like I’ll be able to see the sunrise from bed. First the roosters start crowing, then the bird calls begin.
We are in Munnar, and traveled through a national park to get here. We saw a couple of monkeys and Suresh told us there are wild elephants. A word about driving and drivers here. I mentioned the incessant honking—it seems to mean a myriad of things: I’m passing you, I’m coming around a curve, pedestrian-please stop standing in the middle of the street. There is no tension, stress, or anger aimed at other drivers or pedestrians. Faster cars are expected to overtake tuk tuks, slower cars amid whatever else is on the road. Most impressive is the level of calm in the midst of chaos.
Then there is the running joke about the weather. Everyone in the south, at least everyone we ran into in the south, warned us that Munar is freezing and to prepare for snow or at least rain, and for sure, cold. We don’t know who is perpetuating this myth, but even Harish is getting phone calls at the front desk asking about the low temperatures. It is beautiful here, warm to hot for a few hours, then the mist comes in and it cools a bit, but it is never cold.
This morning Suresh took us to the tea museum in Munar. It is a most popular destination with every tourist that vacations. I’m pretty sure we were all there at the same time. Along the tour, an older Indian gentleman explained the benefits of green tea. He made sure we were all paying attention, evening instructing an Indian couple to rein in a noisy child. He knew his stuff and admonished the Indian population that their diet, lifestyle and sweet, cheap, milky, black tea is killing them. One liter a day made with a gram or two of quality green tea, will insure a long and healthy life. I’m convinced, they got me at the gift shop….
From there, we visited the dam and upstream lake, another tourist site popular with Indians from all. Over the country. We stopped on the shore and bought a couple of green coconuts. The guys cut the top open with a small machete-like knife, give you a straw for the juice, then you give them back the coconut. They cut it in half with another small slice to use as a spoon. The flesh is sweet, gelatinous and really good. That, some salted cashews off another cart, and some local chocolate was lunch—my favorite kind of meal. We also met a family on vacation from Calcutta. We chatted for a while, then there were the requisite posing with family members for photos.
We kept lunch light because an hour or so later we were slathered with oil at the Mayura Ayurvedic Center for our 90 minute massage with sirodhara (oil drip at the point of the third eye). The brochure looked pretty slick, but the place is local and very basic. With our hair loaded with healing oils (we promised to keep it in for at least an hour), we went to the produce market and took yet more pictures of fruit and vegetables. We intended to stop for some food, but there was a strike protesting the steep increase in the price of cooking oil. Overnight the government almost doubled the price, and as a result, all the restaurants were closed.
Suresh made a phone call, and and magically, down the highway, a roadside stand was open for us; we stopped for tea and a snack on our way back to the resort.