Mar 1, 2013

Just like home

In the cities of India, it's generally hard for me to imagine that anything here could be -- well, like anything but India. But I'm writing to you this morning from outside Munnar, on a road that reminds me very much of Pennsylvania, with its farmlands, and California, with its climate.

We're staying at The Shade, a homestay where I visited for just a night on my first trip to Munnar. It was happenstance that I ended up here -- quite lucky! My host in Kochi had arranged the trip, and the homestay he usually sends visitors to was full. The Shade had only been open for about a year at that point, so I was early guest. (And they remember me! They're so sweet.)

View from The Shade around sunset last night.
My initial visit was great, but Santhosh, the owner, has made renovations since -- expanding rooms, redoing bathrooms, adding wifi. It's pretty incredible! The house is partway down into a valley, with huge mountains left, right and center. The balcony behind my room looks down onto Santhosh's "garden" -- two and a half acres of cardamom and coffee plants, as well as cashew, jackfruit and mango trees, curry plants and so many varieties of flowers and it's a virtual kaleidoscope.

From our tour of the garden this morning -- cardamom and curry leaves. The cardamom has been a small crop for two years, so Santhosh is currently working on replacing his 800 plants -- what an undertaking!
The house is about 8 miles from the main town of Munnar. It's right on a road, but not the main one -- so you'll here a truck rumbling by every now and then, but it's mostly crickets chirping, cows mooing and birds calling for sound effects.

My photos don't do this place justice, but I'll try to post more later. For now we're off to see tea plantations and eat some yummy veg thali for lunch.

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