Kerala was high on our list of expectations and didn’t disappoint. The landscape had changed to lush green plantations, and winding jungle tracks.
We had a tour of a plantation where we ate fresh corn on the cob and enough fruit to achieve our “Five- a-day” for the next decade. Coconuts, mangoes, bananas, star fruit and custard apples, all washed down with a palm leaf full of fizzy tree sap which tasted like a cross between cheap sparkling wine and bleach.
Later we travelled in to the hills and found a river where some locals were swimming and bathing under a cool waterfall. Excitedly we parked up the rickshaws and bounded down to the river before unceremoniously throwing ourselves in. A monkey appeared, followed by another until it seemed there were a hundred pairs of eyes peering at us from the trees. It took a few moments to register the monkey sat on a rock reading a book. Someone reached for camera and zoomed in.
“You won’t believe this!”
“That monkey is reading “Learn Tamil in 30 days”.
“What?! That’s mine!”
Another monkey tucked in to a packet of biscuits while another seemed to be clutching a necklace. The monkeys, we realised, were systematically looting the rickshaws that we had naively left unattended. It would have all been worth it if only we’d caught on camera the moment Ed from the Ring of Fire got back in to his rickshaw to find a monkey peering at him from the back seat – he almost jumped clean through the roof.
Later that day Team Curry in a Hurry actually did manage to crash through their roof after performing an unscheduled excursion in to the jungle, emerging amazingly unscathed apart from a missing windscreen.
Team Raj meanwhile managed a rally ending crash when they took on a rock face and lost. The front wheel of their rickshaw had ended up inside the driver’s compartment. In times like this a cup of tea is in order. With India producing more tea than China we were expecting an epic cuppa. The local style though took a bit of getting used to.
Instead of water they used hot milk and instead of one sugar they used an entire cane field. It looked a bit like Ready Brek and tasted a lot like hot milk with loads of sugar in it. With a subtle hint of tea. Curiously the Baywatch Coffee Shoppee offered a “home delivery tickle”. Sounded great but we never had time to try it.
With the sugary paste welding our jaws shut we climbed back in to the rickshaws for the final push to Kanyakumari, our final destination and closing party.