Even though we are spending a couple of nights in Alleppey, we decided to take a day tour on the backwaters. This entailed a one-hour drive to the village of Vaikom. Our guide greeted us and organized us in to two long, wooden canoe-type boats with the oarsmen using bamboo poles to punt our way through the narrow channels.
It was so tranquil and lush, and so interesting to see life in the backwaters unfold as we floated past.
We made a visit to a hamlet where we saw spices growing. (Top l-r: cloves, cinnamon, coffee beans, tamarind. Bottom: pepper corns and nutmeg)
We learned that the cinnamon tree needs to have at least six years maturity before the bark can be peeled, and then it needs to be taken from branches rather than the trunk – which would kill the tree. Pepper corns grow on a non-parasitic vine (this one climbing on a mahogany tree). All peppercorns come from the same plant – green, red, black and white. To get white peppercorns the seeds are soaked and then the outer skin removed. The outer peel of the nutmeg is used in chutneys; inside – the flower or mace is used in cooking – especially Biriyani; peel that away and you find the nut, which is grated for use.
This man was particularly fun to watch as he was washing his calf and then tried to get it out of the water! As warm as it was, I wouldn’t have minded a dip myself!
These women are making rope from coconut fiber.
We had a simple, but delicious, lunch – served in an open air pavilion type building! They probably cooked very thing out the back on a single gas ring!!
After lunch we switched to a larger covered boat, that was also a punt, and travelled one of the wider channels back to our transport.