We’ve been in Varkala for nearly 10 days now and haven’t written anything. So let me update you on all the big things that have transpired in the meanwhile. We’ve spent the majority of our time hanging out on our balcony overlooking the ocean, at one of two beaches, or at a variety of restaurants (also overlooking the ocean). Glad I got all that out of the way. Now that you’re up-to-date on past week and a half, here’s a few of my random thoughts from our time here:
My Favorite Things About Varkala: My very favorite thing about Varkala is all the fresh seafood. Most of our evenings consist of walking along the cliff, browsing each restaurants’ selection of seafood. Every restaurant has a table out front displaying fresh fish, fresh crabs, sometimes live lobster (sometimes cooked already- eccckk), calamari, and fresh prawns of all sizes. Joylani doesn’t like smelling or seeing the fish, nor does she like the sales process and haggling. But I love it and have eaten fish all but one night here
Luckily, we both like fresh young coconut. There’s a guy at one of the beaches that sells coconuts for .25 USD. We sometimes buy one, which he chops open and sticks a straw in for us. When we’re finished with the juice, we just take it back to him he’ll cut it into thirds and chop a sliver off the outside to use as a spoon. I stress that it’s a young coconut, because the juice is the sweetest and the meat the softest (Joylani says its like jelly) I’ve ever had- its even better than the Thai/Vietnamese young coconut beverages you can buy in the US. Of course, we both like the ocean too. We’re the products of California. The beaches are small, but the water is warm and clear. We also have nice views of the ocean from our balcony and all the restaurants we eat at. I’ve never really seen big waves from above before, but today I noticed how cool they look as they curl forward; a smooth-surfaced cylinder of clear green-tinted water rotating around a bunch of foam and bubbles. The last thing I like is the inability to distinguish the horizon in the mornings and evenings. In the mornings, the foggy coastal haze and the low angle of the sun turns both the sky and consequently the water the same grey color. The color, combined with the aforementioned haze in the distance, makes the horizon and disctiction between sea and sky disappear. At night, the sky and water are completely dark (our stay coincided with a new moon), obliterating any indications of a horizon, except one. Every night, we can see a straight line of dots across the darkness; small fishing boats demarcating the straight horizon.
Worst Parts About Coastal India: We spent eight nights in Goa and will spend a total of two and a half weeks in Kerala, but there are a few annoying things. One is that, like most nice beach areas around the world, its really touristy. Luckily we’re catching both Goa and Kerala just before the tourist season, but its still geared towards tourists. Like I mentioned Joylani dreads looking for dinner because of all the chatty restaurateurs. But I don’t like shopkeepers trying to get my attention and sell me their junk every second either. I’ve heard enough “please, looking” and “yes, sir” and “just take a look” to last me a lifetime. Annoyance number two is that it’s HOT. Goa and here have both been in the hundreds daily, with nights usually in the mid-eighties. Goa was way more humid, so the heat was more difficult to escape. Even the rain there only cooled things down temporarily- it could be a hundred degrees again 10 minutes after the rain stopped. The humidity also caused us other problems, like our clothes not drying and mold beginning to grow on the outside of my backpack. Keralan heat seems to be mostly just from the sun. Luckily, our balcony and most of the places we eat have a roof. The others and the beach have umbrellas, so the heat hasn’t been too bad.
My Pre-disposition to Laziness: Okay so I began this post by saying that we’ve been here for a week and pretty much haven’t done anything. On one hand, I want to be productive; I’d like to catch up on emails to friends/family, find a place to volunteer, work on my writing/photography. But hanging out on the beach eating my coconut or lounging in a sand-floored restaurant reading a book for an entire afternoon is so much more enticing. After a week and a half of doing nothing, you’d think we’d get bored, but we haven’t. We’re actually content. Joylani said it feels like vacation, although I don’t know from what. At home, I’m usually pretty focused and if I have a goal, I’ll work hard to achieve it. Some even accuse me of workaholism. But being here has shown me the opposite side of my personality.
Our Goals for this Trip: I guess its appropriate to follow up “My Predisposition to Laziness” with “Our Goals for this Trip.” We haven’t really explicitly talked about this, but it seems like in order to feel like we didn’t “waste” our time abroad, we each have things we’d like to do. For Joylani, it’s volunteering. I don’t think it matters too much what we do exactly, as long as we volunteer somewhere and help out. My main goal on this trip is to see and ultimately learn more about the world, which isn’t the most quantifiable goal. But I’d feel somewhat wasteful if I didn’t at least finish up the two writing projects I’m working on, as well as come up with some creative ways to display/disseminate my photography (as my photography improves, of course). Whether we accomplish these things or not probably won’t make a big difference when we look back on our trip in the coming years, but it’d be nice to at least have done some things besides just travel and sightsee our way around the globe.
Staying Thankful/Appreciative: Sitting on BART on my way to work, I used to sometimes daydream of this trip, the places we’d go, the things we’d see, what we’d do, and who we’d meet. The workday or workweek stretching in front of me would give my daydreams value, in a sense. At the beginning of this trip, it was easy to contrast the fun we were having with the worst workdays I could remember. I’d think, “Wow, a month ago I was miserable sitting in a cubicle eight hours a day and today I spent eight hours enjoying the best of Paris with my wife.” On a philosophical note, this implies of course, that part of my appreciation is the knowledge of and comparison to worse circumstances. We’re still seeing and doing amazing things and still enjoying the trip, but I doubt I have the same appreciation for it as I did months ago. I also doubt that I’m appreciating it as much now as I will in the years to come. When you’re doing exactly what you want and the memories/thoughts of less desirable circumstances have faded, how do you maintain that level of thankfulness? Is it out of reach, only to be realized over time? I don’t have an answer. Its not that I’m not appreciative and thankful, it’s just that I don’t feel it’s nearly as intense as it was or will be. I think it’s sometimes just hard to appreciate good times when you’re living them, which goes along with the saying, “You don’t know what you have until you lose it.” Anyhow, I’m trying to stay as appreciative and thankful as I can.
By the way, Varkala is great!