India solo

Coorg / Coffee Estate - Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Hey, I have been away from civilization for a week, so haven't been able to update the diary for a while.

I left Ernakulam last Tuesday night. Mike & Tal, the 2 Americans, where also leaving on the same train with their bikes, they were a bit sick of riding it now. However we were not in the same compartment, so once again I travelled alone.

It didn't really matter though, as it was 11.30 pm and everyone where going to sleep anyway. I reached Mangalore the next morning about 10 am and checked into a hotel. Then I went to call these people that I kind of accidentally got in touch with through a travel web site. First I got some info from Nithya, an Indian girl living in Canada. She had mailed me general info since I was in India, telling me that she had family in Karnataka. So when I told her I was on my way to Mangalore, she organized everything. Called her parents to let them now I was coming. So when I called her parents they were all so friendly. They invited me over for both tea and dinner.

Their nephew Alex took me for a drive to the beach as well. Next morning I left with Alex and his mum, Lilian (Diddi),which is Nithyas aunt. Ok sorry if this is getting too complicated, its not really very important. I just wanted to try and explain it all. The whole thing was really depending on soo many coincidences! It was pure luck that they were in town, just when I came. They have a coffee estate up in Coorg (the hills east of Mangalore).

So next morning I got a ride with them to their Estate. I stayed with them for about 5-6 days. It was very nice. Far away from everything. Not a single tourist in sight, no people at all in fact, apart from a few neighbouring estates. Had a very peaceful time there.

They showed me the coffee plantation and how they harvest the coffee and treat it before roasting. They also grow some pepper, papaya, cardamom, oranges, bananas and lime. I learned a lot about how these things work. We also went for walks around the estate. It is about 60-70 acres. I have no idea what this is on square meters, but it was BIG! At least I thought it was big.

Their house was on the very top of a hill. The road up their looked almost impossible for a car to climb, but I then realized why everyone in this place have 4-wheel jeeps! They had another jeep from the 2nd world war too and one day we went for a drive on the estate with it, really good fun. It could drive uo anything.

Another day we went to a Tibetan settlement and Monastery not too far from Mysore. They have built a huge temple and a lot of the sculptures inside are massive and all plated with gold!

The rest of the time we spendt doing everyday things. Lilian taught me how to make a few Indian dishes, like Dosai. One evening we even had a tiny party with some of their friends from the neighbouring estate. It was really funny. Drinking and driving is pretty normal here, but they were all soo worried about who was going to drive down when they had to go home. As they said, people either have to love you or hate you, to bother going up that road. They got down safely in the end though.

4 dogs also lived there, Sambo, Simba, Sheila & Sheeba. Yes, confusing I know. It took me about 4 days to get the hang of who was who. The dogs were so friendly, always hanging around together and very affectionate and cute. They were all street mix. I have a feeling that pure race is hard to come by down here. Especially all the stray dogs all look the same, most of them look kind of ugly and scary. Im always a bit worried when passing these packs of dogs at night, but so far so good!

Well, I guess this somehow sums up the last week. I got back here to Mangalore last evening. I took the bus from a village about 45 minutes from the estate. Halfway here the bus got a flat tyre. Everyone had to get off, but they were very efficient. I mean this is India, things usually takes ages, but after 1/2 hour the driver, conductor and a mechanic we came across on the side of the road, had changed the tyre.Wow!

Im staying with Nithya's grandmother now, a very sweet woman. She has a nice house here. Today I have been walking around town, fixing a few things and looking at a beautiful chapel covered with paintings on both ceiling and walls. There are a lot of Christians in this state, so there are churches scattered all over town. Just behind where Im staying there is another church about 300 years old. There is a kind of Portuguese feel to the place. Not so weird since it is very close to Goa (which was a Portuguese colony).

Tomorrow Il be going up to Karwar, just below Goa. It is supposed to be a good beach a few kilometres outside of this town, but no one knows anything about it, so I will have to check it out.

If it is not the case I'll go to Gokarna. Ssupposedly a laid back place too. I have no idea when i'll be online next time. It will depend on how isolated the places are I guess. Time is running out now, just about a month left of my trip. However Im really looking forward to go home as well. It will be Easter and spring when I get back home, the most perfect time to return!

Im still enjoying my time here too though. Phew, this entry must be a mile looong by now. I don't even know if it makes any sense, but it will have to do.