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Made it to Cochin & The Strongest Ever

Cochin, Kerala, India – We arrived in Cochin, actually its sister city called Ernakulam and booked ourselves into the Biju tourist home, great hotel. Now the Cochin area is almost exactly like San Francisco bay area. We were in Ernakulam, which is like staying in Berkley relative to San Francisco or Cochin. There is even a “treasure island” complete with naval base, right in the middle of the bay, plus the “bay bridge”, goes right through the middle of it.  Insert graphic from journal.

After dumping our stuff in the room, we headed over to the Indian Coffee House, which is a cooperative, run by the coffee workers. They serve the best cold coffee I have ever tasted along with some snacks for you to munch one. Little did I know that the India Coffee House would have satellite cafes all over Kerala. After our snack, we jumped on the public bus across Cochin’s version of the bay bridge to Cochin city proper. The first thing that struck me about the bus was the fact that it had no windows and it was about 87 degrees outside. It is hot and a fresh breeze flowing through the bus would be a perfect solution, right.  Open the window, right.  In Malawi, when it was 98 degrees, they were closing the windows, Egypt too. All of a sudden in India, the anti-logic capital of the world, someone had enough good sense to design a public transport vehicle without windows, designed for a 98-degree climate. It is too logical and too easy, that is why I was so taken aback by the simplicity of the whole thing, plus if the sun is shining on you through the open space where the window usually is, you got the option of pulling down the green canvas shade which blocks the sun off your own but still lets a little air through, amazing.

Our bus arrived in Cochin a short while later and we began to walk around this quaint ex-Portuguese port city. The streets were all really narrow with palm trees bowing out over them and all the walls and doors are painted with a different color. The Keralans are so friendly. We had tons of people saying hello and talking to us as we made our way through the back streets of Cochin. We wandered into a section of the city called Jew Town, know for its Jewish population in addition to the abundance of spices being packaged for shipment. The smells of the ginger and the other spices waves through the air adding that perfect extra touch to your senses, which are already preoccupied from taking in quaintness and beauty of Cochin. We walked through Jew Town until we found the Jewish synagogue at the northern end of the town. The synagogue is the oldest one in the commonwealth with the Jewish community who uses it dating back to 52 AD. The synagogue itself was built in 1568, making it 425 years old and it is still in excellent condition.

After having a look through the temple, we walked through more of the city until we hit the water on the northern side. This was the side where all of the Chinese fishing nets are placed and seeing as it was late in the afternoon, the fishermen were just beginning their work again. The Chinese fishing nets consist of a huge square net suspended on the end of a large lever out over the water. Imagine a pier out over the water and set into the length of the pier at the center with a huge lever capable of lowering large objects down into the water. The fishermen all live together and throw the huge lever up sending the net down into the water, but if the net is in the water, it is not the end of the lever 8 feet up above the men’s head at a 45 degree angle, yes you are correct and how do they pull the net out of the water when it is full of fish. Tied to the end of the elevated lever are no less than six pieces of rope. In addition to another six pieces, all with large rocks tied onto them to counterbalance the weight of the net. At the head fisherman’s word, the men all grab a rope and pull on it as quickly as possible, thereby trapping as many fishes as possible when the net is lifted back out of the water. Another fishermen empties the net. Then the net is dropped once again and the whole process repeated over and over.

Rich and I sat there watching the fishermen when one of the local boys started talking to Rich and explained that the jay fay was in the bushes near us, meaning Rich could buy some marijuana. Rich went off with the kid and upon their return the boy told us we could get fresh seafood just down the shore there.

Curious, we followed him down to a shack where the fishermen have all of their catches on display, lobsters, fish, and shrimp. You name it and it was here. Fish was 40 rupees, a lobster would run you 70 rupees, and half a kilo of shrimp was 70 rupees or $2 and 80 cents. We purchased a half kilo of some rather large prawns, then headed across the grass over to the man with the sign saying “you buy it, I cook it.” We gave him a shrimp and for another 20 rupees or 80 cents, he cleaned, spiced, and cooked up our shrimp for us, nice, cheap, and elegant snack. After the snack, we hung out taking pictures of the nets at sunset. It was rather a spectacular site.

Back to the room that evening to see what the jay fay brought us, we had smoked a little more than half of one joint and both of us were floored to the point we could not move plus it was not like we were sleepy, total headrush city. Both of us thought we were on something much stronger than the jay fay could provide. Rich couldn’t deal so I pulled it together enough to go down the street to the Portuguese bakery to get a cookie or something but in my altered state after ordering six cookies, and everything looked so good, I asked the shop owner to just give me two of everything in the store.I arrived back in the room with this huge box of western cookies and pastries and Rich literally could not believe it. First, I’d gone out to deal with India in our condition, and second, I found some of the most delicious sweets we’d had in a while.

After having had tons, this was definitely the strongest pot I had ever had and I could not stay awake past 8 o’clock.

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