An archive of stories and photos from our family trip to South India.

Location: Seattle


Fort Cochin, Kerala

At our first stop in Kerala, the historic port of Cochin (or Kochi), we avoided the bustle of the city in favor of the historic Fort Cochin area, where we stayed in a small family guesthouse a stone's throw from St. Francis Church, the first Christian church in India, which dates from 1500 and held the grave of explorer Vasco de Gama until the Portugese reclaimed his bones and carried them off to Lisbon. Kerala is noticeably more Christian, with churches at every turn, nuns walking by the road, and rosaries dangling from rearview mirrors. And in every Christian home, a small shrine with a color print of the "sacred heart of Jesus" with an electric candle flickering in front of it.

Steamy and languid, Fort Cochin is a maze of small winding streets with homes in the traditional Kerala style, terra cotta roofs and rich woodwork. We began with a logistics day: a bit of local exploring, and a lot of planning, as we book hotels and transport for our 8 days in Kerala. And topped it off with a really cool performance of Kathakali, the traditional dance/theatre style of Kerala, in which richly costumed and made-up performers dance and pantomime stories to the accompaniment of drummers and a singer. Claire loved it, and danced along, mimicking the performers while standing on her seat at the back of the small, thatched hall.

When we arrived in India a little more than 2 weeks ago, we had friends to stay with the first night, and had made plans for the first week, but beyond that, we'd left many elements of our itinerary to serendipity. This meant that when we arrived in Kerala we had only a vague outline we wanted to follow, including 3 nights in the "backwaters," but no reservations. Which led us, during our logistics day in Fort Cochin, to come across the brochure for the new backwater hotel The Kondai Lip (, and after much discussion while strolling with ice cream cones in the park, we decide to give it a try.