Reaching the Finish Line – Kochi
Kochi is the great port city of the south. It is a place known for the spice and tea trade. Kochi is a city that was colonized first by the Portuguese, then the Dutch and finally the British. Each colonizer left behind some of their culture and the city has also been greatly influenced by other trading partners of influence like the Chinese and Arabs. This blend of cultures attracted me to the city and seemed like a good place to end my Indian adventure.
The greater Kochi area is a maze of peninsulas and islands. It’s a place where you get around on a ferry as much as you do by road-and I love ferries! My visit centered around the area of Fort Kochi, as that is where my hotel was located One of the main attractions of Kochi, and its icon, are the Chinese fishing nets. They have been in place since the 14th century and while there used to be 100, there are now only about a dozen that remain in use. Heading down in the early morning and then again at sunset was a highlight of my visit to this city.
The former presence of the Dutch was very apparent in Fort Kochi in the architectural style of many homes and buildings. While so many buildings are nearly falling down, others have been restored. Places of interest are the Dutch Cemetery and the Dutch Palace.
A walk through the port area and down the eastern edge of the peninsula was another highlight. The Mattancherry area and Baazar Road is always bustling with port area business, the loading and unloading of goods, and business transactions being negotiated. The day I walked through was a Muslim holiday so some of the shutters were closed but there was still a lot of activity. The closer you got to the Jewish Synagogue the more touristy it became, but further up was quite different.
Partially because I’d read it was a beautiful museum and partially because I wanted an excuse to use the ferry network, I headed over one morning to the neighboring peninsula of Ernakulam to the Kerala Folklore Museum. This beautiful building and private collection is a great showcase of all that is Keralan. Three floors of musical instruments, puppets, masks and costumes for traditional dance, and religious artifacts make the trek to this museum well worth it.
On my final night, I attended a Kathakali performance. Kathakali is a traditional dance-drama art of Kerala. The show incorporated some other traditional and similar dances as well. It was a really entertaining performance and I couldn’t have asked for a better grand finale to my time in India. At the show I met another solo female traveler and we went for a few beers after the show, as it was her final night in town as well.
And with that, it came time to say goodbye to India. I’d saved most of my shopping for this final stop so I had to spend some time packing and repacking and getting rid of things in order to get my bags ready for travel. In the morning, it was off to the airport, for what would be a 50 hour marathon of recycled airport/airplane air. 50 hours from the time I walked out the door of my Kochi hotel to when I walked in the door at my friend’s apartment in Mexico City. Yikes. But so, so worth it for the opportunity to visit a little bit of this immense country. Who knows what the future holds but I have a pretty strong gut feeling that I’ll be back to the subcontinent!