We boarded our little minivan and headed up the hills towards Munnar (famous for its tea plantations). This day entailed 8 hours of driving through endless sprawl of shacks, roadside stalls and markets – and what felt like an endless village road. I was amazed that even after hours and hours, there was no break of this sprawl, it was entirely continuous. In any other country I’ve traveled through, you enter a village or town, and you exit a village or town – to cross some unpopulated land to the next village or town! Here it just goes on forever and ever, it becomes apparent how populated India really is.
At every stop, we are befriended by curious Kerala locals, and then invited to their homes – not for our money, but pure hospitality. Sometimes the poorest people are the richest. We declined these kind offers (with difficulty) – as we were heading for lunch with Jose and Daisy who run a homestay on a rubber plantation.
Lunch was free and their hospitality was incredible. Their main income is from the rubber plantation, but they also have guests stay in their home from all over the world. Jose delights himself in educatimg his guests on all that grows on this plantation, it was truly interesting. Isabella was in her element, picking coffee beans, catching frogs – and learning that things really do not grow in supermarkets. We learned how latex is reaped from the bark of rubber trees, picked bananas, pineapples, peppercorns, ate fresh coconut and drank home made passion fruit cordial by the gallon. I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes so he dug out a fresh ball of tumeric root and applied it to my bites and the itch ceased instantly like no other cream! This couple were fantastic with the children, our kids took to them like they were their own grandparents. I can highly recommend visiting this plantation homestay in Pindimana, Kerala (www.mundackalhomestay.com).
After the most delicious meal cooked by Daisy herself (she also teaches how to cook traditional Kerala cuisine in her kitchen) we continued on our drive up the hills to Munnar. We arrived in time so see the magnificent views before a thunderstom set in.
Exhausted from our long trip, we had an Ayurvedic treatment to ease the nausia of the winding roads. This involved a massage with essential oils followed by a lemon grass scented steam cabin/chamber with a hole for your head, that had us both in fits of laughter. We decided one of these at home would be a great idea for anyone being a bit of a handful (adults and kids alike!)