Sunday, January 3, 2010
Another Day in Paradise
We’re at the Pummunda Resort. It’s located about 2 hours south of Cochin in an area of Kerela state called the backwaters. That makes it sound like a sewer but it’s actually breathtakingly beautiful. The lake is a perfect still mirror reflecting all the palm trees. Canals run throughout the property, creating the need for graceful, arched bridges.
Our villa is designed as a traditional house with a very high door which requires us to take a big step into the room. The bathroom is outdoors. Toilet. Shower. Sink. All outdoors. A bit freaky at first but we quickly warm to the idea.
We spend the entire next day lolling about at the pool which we take frequent advantage of due to the boiling hot temperature.
There is an ayurvada spa here. These are typical medical spas that people come to for a week or more to deal with a variety of problems. They usually offer all sorts of odd procedures, such as pouring warm coconut oil on your forehead for 45 minutes. For the purposes of this resort, they have a much more simple menu. We opt for the general massage which lasts one hour and costs about $20 US.
Now, if you know Melissa and I, you know we both adore cheap massages. The $3 one I had in Vietnam remains the best to this day. I step into a room with a short Indian women who speaks practically no English. She motions for me to get undressed. I’m not modest, but a little privacy please! But it was not to be. She unsnapped my bra from behind! I think “OK. Just go with it. She sees hundreds of naked white girls a day.” She has me sit on a stool and starts pouring this foul smelling oil over my head. It smells like beef stock and I’m trying really hard not to inhale through my noise. She starts giving me a nice head massage, although it’s hard for me to relax completely since I’m sitting in front of her buck naked. After a few minutes she has me move to the table. More beef stock. Then a rapid rub down. It actually feels good, although I prefer the more traditional type where they rub out knots in your neck. Finally, she has me roll over. The massage continues and honestly, I am not sure how I am not suppose to burst out laughing when she starts rubbing my chest. I mean, seriously? I spend most of the massage biting my lip to keep from cracking up, which of course is not the ideal mind set for relaxation. The massage ends with her pouring warm water and washing the beef stock off me like a baby.
Honestly, it wasn’t so bad. Just not my cup of tea.
Melissa’s take? She fell asleep!
New Year’s Eve day we spend being utterly useless. Across from the pool hotel workers are buzzing about getting ready for the festivities. Apparently it’s going to be a big deal. Later we put on some mascara and bug spray and take a giant step out of our door to walk over to the party. We’re seated at a romantic table, lake-side, white table cloth and candle. Too bad we don’t love each other THAT much! A temporary fountain has been built near the shore and lights are strung throughout the trees. Soon a woman takes the makeshift stage that’s been erected. She bubbly and squeaky and happy. And completely annoying. We watch a traditional dance performance. And then another. And then one more. And still it’s not time to eat. It’s time for games! Oh yes, games. Like a bridal shower. We try not to make eye contact with her, hoping she won’t choose us. But this only lasts for so long and eventually we find ourselves on stage with some women from Sweden, and Indian guy and some Australians. We’re playing a kind of musical chairs, except instead of sitting we have to jump onto a piece of cloth. The music stops and all 10 of us jump on, I’m clutching onto Melissa from behind, she’s shoved up against the Swedish lady and the Indian and Australian guy are way too close for comfort. We’re all hysterical. Later, Melissa wins us a giant Cadbury chocolate bar for being the only person to correctly guess the date for Chinese New Year’s. (That’s our trip to Vietnam paying off!)
Finally it’s time to eat. There are at least 30 silver turins filled with every type of Indian food imaginable. There’s also pasta. Seven different salads. A “Live Salad” table, which means they mix up your veggies of choice. One man is grilling fresh shrimp, another is making naan and roti on the spot. The food is all yummy. My favorite is the chocolate ice cream. I don’t know if they make it here or it’s shipped in from another country. But it’s the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot.
As the eating winds down, the cheerful MC tries to get people on the dance floor. The problem is they are only playing Euro trash house music. Even the French people aren’t into it. I ask if they have Michael Jackson? No. Madonna? No. Sigh. It’s going to be a long 30 minutes until the clock strikes 12.
It eventually does, bringing with it fireworks. And while they're no Macy’s Fourth of July, they are more impressive than we expect. Locals have gathered in several boats off our shore to watch the show. Soon it’s all over. And Melissa and I return to our little wood villa to eat the yummy plum cake the hotel gave all the guests for New Year’s while we watch the ‘Sex in the City’ movie. Happy New Year’s!