Awesome Day in Cochin – go ahead, be surprised!!!!!!
Cochin is one of the biggest ports on the West Coast of India on the Bay of Bengal. It has a long history – on one hand Indian and on the other hand, European. The fort in Cochin is likely to be the earliest European settlement in India – dating back to the Portuguese colonization. For Southern Africans, Vasco De Gama was buried here at St Francis Church. After the Portuguese it was the turn of the Dutch and then, finally, the British who made their mark on the area. So, in exploring Cochin we took in relics and monuments to Portuguese and Catholicism, the Dutch and the reform Church and the British and cricket!!! It so happens we were also able to see Cochin as an Indian city and surprisingly as a city containing a one-time bustling Jewish community – now also a relic.
Arrived here at 8am and very soon after arriving, after the gangplank was placed and the carpet laid, and the potted plants positioned and the Princess Cruise tent erected, an ambulance pulled up and the Doctor escorted an ill patient and her husband off the ship – certainly got our attention! How not to depart the ship.
We had to wait a while for immigration and customs clearance – they always jerk us around a bit with the formalities then was able to disembark. The Taxis (airconditioned) and the Tuk-Tuks were lined up ready for us and the buses for the tours.
We planned on taking a tuk-tuk for the morning (4 hours) and had a schedule in mind. Went up to the drivers and when they started haggling selected one driver to deal with, got a price and started out. Our tuk-tuk was the ‘Indian Ferrari’
Charlie (as he called himself), actually Salie, was a great choice and we had the best day. He is 46, married, has two kids, diabetes and hypertension and had a silent MI last year (amazing what you can learn in four hours). He was a great driver (which is a very important element to survival on the roads in India) was well informed about his city and showed us all the sights.
Among the things we spent time seeing – big difference from the organized bus tour – was the Fishing market with the chinese fishing net technique that they use. At the side of the ocean the fishermen have built piers and at the end of the piers are these fishing nets suspended from a framework of rods.
The fishermen lower this contraption into the water every 10 min or so and the frame suspends and spreads the net below the water surface. The fishermen then hoist the net out of the water by pulling on the frame and their catch (which you can see in the picture in the net) is then brought straight to the tables and sold fresh to the locals.
Kerala (this province) is famous for its spices – many fortunes have been made here – and there are beautiful buildings and houses everywhere in Cochin to highlight this commercial success. Spices were also the reason for colonial interest in this area. So along the way we went to a number of shops where we were assailed by the aromas of vanilla, curry and all they had on display – the cochin spice market was in a very old building and I thought the staircase was particularly interesting – Charlie sent us up but didn’t follow so you must know……
Saw a man with a basket of chicks for sale. They had been dyed many colors – happy snap.
Also the obligatory sacred (skinny) cow and many free range critters – goats and dogs mainly plus the odd cat.
How do they know who owns the goats? Merle asked. Hmmmmmm
It was Sunday today which was fortunate for many reasons – little traffic on the streets made for easy tuk tukking; many stores were closed and the people were out having a good time. Children playing cricket on the British Parade ground; more serious children sitting under a Banyan tree wearing a cricket uniform waiting their turn to bat at the Santa Cruz park
Tomorrow I’ll continue with the other sights – particularly focusing on our visit to the Jewish area of old Cochin. Until then........................