Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Memorable Moments: Kerala

On Wednesday morning we woke up on the train to see the sun rising over lush rice paddies and coconut and banana trees as we arrived in ‘God’s Own Country’- Kerala.
Shaina, Lydia, Amber, Chrissie, and Kelly jump for joy by the Arabian Sea
     We spent our mornings learning about Economics, the Kerala model of development, and Indian politics from our dear friends at Vichara.

    The following day we went to visit Amma's Ashram. Amma is known around the world as 'the Hugging Saint' who is worshiped as a goddess. This was the second time in ISP history that Amma was at the ashram because she is so busy with her world tours. The students were surprised to see so many foreigners who have come from around the world to learn from Amma and they were curious as to what drew them to her. Adding to the excitement of the trip: there was an elephant at the ashram which some of the students got to feed!
Kara, Shaina, Amber, Chrissie, and Kelly with an elephant at Amma's Ashram
     One afternoon we visited the site where St. Thomas is said to have stepped off the boat and landed in India. What a privilege to sit on the banks and look out to where a man who knew Jesus had once walked. We also visited several churches that Thomas started.

  On our final day in Kerala we went to Fort Cochin for a free day to do the tourist thing. The students could wander off and explore Jewtown, the Dutch palace, a Jain temple, Hindu temples, and the beach. They all got in some good shopping and delicious food before re-gathering in the evening for a Kathakali show. Kathakali is a famous traditional Kerala style of dancing which was quite different from anything we had seen before
Batch 6 with the Kathakali dancers
Night trains- We all remember waking up to hear the familiar cry ‘chaaaaiiii, chaaaaaiii, coFFEE, coFFEE!!!!
Party Bus- With the disco lights flashing, wind whipping through our hair, and some loud Hindi music blaring as we all had a party as we danced along.
Camel rides- We arrived at the beach and immediately spotted several scruffy camels with over eager owners. Students jostled on the camels two-by-two down the beach at a trot while I, (Hannah) tried to keep up and jog behind through the sand to take some snaps.
Maaike and Megan riding a camel
Arabian Sea- I’m just going to include this in transportation since all of us who swam got tossed around quite a bit and taken for several ‘rides’ as we were strewn across the sand by the pounding waves!
Boat- I think the boat ride was one of the highlights of the trip because it was so relaxing. The Backwaters of Kerala are called the 'Venice of the East' and boating through them is listed in Lonely Planet's list to do before you die. We thoroughly enjoyed these moments of peace and tranquility.
Boating on the backwaters of Kerala

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