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

Location: Seattle


The Road to Kerala

Now we have wound our way down through hours of stomach-churning one-lane switchbacks (masterfully maneuvered by our wonderful driver Mr. Mani) and come west along the bus-clogged highway out of Tamil Nadu to the port city of Cochin, Kerala. Yesterday was a marathon 8-hour drive, a feat made bearable for Claire with a healthy dose of modern technology - she listened to children's music and stories on Tom's I-Pod.

Road-tripping here has been a rich experience - one never quite knows what will come next on the road - perhaps an hour of brutally rough potholes endured at 15 miles an hour, or perhaps an hour of smooth new pavement (or most frustrating, 500 yards of each, in endless succession). Perhaps the next curve will reveal one oncoming bus passing another, and the whole affair passing a rickshaw, leaving no road to spare for us - an experience that takes your breath away the first time you confront it head-on at 60 miles an hour, and then rapidly becomes just part of the flow of the road. A flow that includes oxcarts mixed with 3-wheeled rickshaws, children bicycling to school, and village women drying their lentils on the highway. Yes, right on the road - protected with rocks or branches, forcing drivers to veer around little patches of drying beans in shades of yellow, brown, red (see photo). Or, in some cases on small back roads, we slowly drove right over hay spread across the road to dry.

There are tiny children balanced on the fronts of motorcycles - again a sight that stuns you the first time, and then becomes so commonplace we only note it now if a family of five or more is balanced on a single "two wheeler." And road crews, fixing the roads after this year's record monsoons. Road crews in flop flops or bare feet, working the hot tar with rakes, carrying sand and gravel in pails balanced on their heads.