I had a poor night: at 1.30 I got up to turn off the fan, which was chilling us,at 2.30 Kate phoned us (she forgets that India is ahead not behind the UK in time) and I wrestled with my mosquito net in order to crawl across the floor in search of my mobile before everybody woke up, and at 3.30 I got up to go to the loo. Apart from these events, there was the mosquito wandering around inside my net, the relative cold, and the constant blare of music from loudspeakers in a village across the paddy fields (the Indian love of noise never ceases to amaze us). The music continued until about 4 in the morning; at 5.30 I watched the first signs of dawn, and then Claire and I gave up and got up to watch a beautiful dawn.
Another tasty meal for breakfast: some sort of savoury dish based on noodles made by grinding rice, covered with coconut and accompanied by a tasty sauce. And of course, masala tea.
Eventually this lovely interlude came to an end, and mid-morning we were once more on land. We all agreed that although extravagant, it had been a delightful experience and when shared by four, my cost was bearable: 2000 rupees including tips (24 pounds).
We are now back in town with two objectives: to try yet again to put my photos onto a DVD and to update our blogs. The first of these has turned out potentially disasterous. As yesterday, the computer said I had viruses on two of my cards - deleted the viruses. Either the viruses or the anti-virus software appears to have deleted photos as well! I cant quite work out what I have lost but I fear that much of Verkala and our trip to Allepey may have gone. I suppose for the readers this is good news as we have been snapping feverishly for the past few days, drunk on the neverending diet of exotic palms and beaches, but I am upset for myself. How right our friend Tim was: the safest way to carry large amounts of photos is to buy more compact flash cards and wait till one gets home to transfer the photos to a computer.
Time for some more food (!) before we go on a walk along the canals of Allepey and Claire sets off on a long and arduous journey by train and bus to Mysore. This is our last day together and I'm going to miss her very much. She is an excellent travel companion and a sterling person. I'm hoping we will meet up in Europe and that I may be able to put her in touch with good contacts in her hunt for a new job (she was a project manager in the call centre industry and definitely wants a more rewarding job!).
Several hours later:
Good meal and pleasant walk down canals to Allepey Beach, a huge sandy expanse with a rickety wooden pier, full of Indian families enjoying the seaside. I talked to a family from inland Kerala, who had come here for a wedding and were now enjoying their sight of the sea. The children were squealing with delight as they risked drenching themselves in the surf (not nearly as impressive as at the Secret Beach two days ago - I'm still feeling the aftereffects in my left hip, unfortunately). And then goodbye to Claire, who sets off on a horrendous series of train trips to Mysore, via Mangalore and Bangalore.