The harbor town of Kochi in the state of Kerala is laid back as far as Indian cities go. Sure it has auto rickshaws zipzaging around the streets. And livestock roams freely, mostly goats instead of the usual cows. And garbage is everywhere, either strewn on the sides of the roads and beaches or burning in piles. But Kochi has a small town feel and we enjoyed our time there.
We arrived by bus from Allepey with online instructions to get off at the state-of-the-art bus station in Ernakulam. Either we got off at the wrong stop or India has a different definition of state-of-the-art. Either way we found a rickshaw driver near the dusty parking lot/bus station and asked to be dropped off at “the boat dock to Kochi.”
Due to language confusion, we ended up at the boat dock IN Kochi, so instead of taking the ferry, we set about finding lodging right way.
Some eager rickshaw drivers spotted us right away and offered to help us find lodging. Normally we decline these offers to avoid the commission being added onto the room rate. This time we accepted and were taken to a clean, reasonably priced room.
Then the drivers offered to take us on a city tour for only 300 rupees. Again, we accepted even though we usually prefer to explore on our own. The next day we had a good time being driven around to the major sites in the city.
Santa Cruz Basilica where a group of Indian women asked to take a picture with us.
The church where Vasco da Gama was originally buried (his body is in Portugal now, but the tombstone remains).
The fishing dock
The public laundry
We also visit a spice shop and a place where ginger was being dried and sorted.
One of the reasons the tour was so cheap is because the drivers take you to several shops along the way and get a commission if you buy something.
Mostly we resisted, but I did give in and buy a tunic, which turned out to be twice the price that I could have gotten it for in Goa. Luckily, the price difference was only $4 and I felt better knowing the drivers got a cut.
The drivers were very nice and expressed concern at my terrible cough that had been getting worse since it had started in Madurai. They even took us to a pharmacy where I got an inhaler that cleared up the nagging cough. I had been worried that it was due to the pollution and I would be coughing for the rest of our time in the India.
Also while in Kochi, we visited the mall in Ernakulam, where we ate at our first McDonald’s in India. There is no beef on the menu, so I got a filet o fish and everyone else got chicken sandwiches.
The girls shopped for tunics and leggings here, too. We found good deals at a shop called Ethnicity. Now we fit in a little better than when we wear our clothes from home.
Much of our time in Kochi was spending wandering the street of this former colonial Portuguese port. The crumbling façade on the walls and buildings are a big part of the town’s charm.
Garbage burning in the streets meant smoky walks, but made beautiful sunsets.
The second half of our week in Kochi we moved to a guesthouse we had a booked on Airbnb. LeLinda’s, named after the welcoming host, is one of my favorite places we have stayed because of Linda herself.
She welcomed us in like we were family. She cooked us breakfast and dinner for a reasonable rate whenever we asked. She showed concern for Kali’s cough (which she must have caught from me). She seemed to love having the girls around and patted and doted on them
We learned that her son had died less than a year ago and was close to Sierra’s age. Having teenagers around must have reminded her of him.
We took Linda’s cooking class, which turned out to be more of a demonstration, but was inexpensive at 500 rupees per person. We learned to make dahl (cooked lentils with onions and spices) and chapati (an Indian flat bread).
Before we left the girls sang for Linda and she cried. She said the song was for her son.
We were sad when it was time to say goodbye. She gifted us a used straightening iron, which we took, but then laughed about whether we would actually carry it around. But I made it fit in my pack and have actually used it a few times.
And each time I am reminded of the sweet woman who made our pleasant stay in Kochi even nicer.