Yesterday afternoon, January 8, the Wilderness Travel (WT) group with which Joan and I will be traveling met for the first time in the lounge of the hotel. Our guide, Hashmat Singh, generally outlined the plan for the next couple of days and we all introduced ourselves. It appears to be a very congenial group. For many of them this is the latest in many WT adventures and for all of them this is the latest in many, many travels.
All of us are of a certain age: I think the youngest amongst us might be a 51-year old engineer; politeness dictates that I not speculate about who might be the eldest (but it isn’t me).
After our getting-to-know-you session, which mercifully was not done through music, we headed out for a sunset cruise around the harbor. It was fascinating. We got close up experiences with many of the various crafts we have been seeing from the shore. Rows of fishing boats, gigantic container vessels (apparently, Kochi is one of the larges container ports), dredges, canoes and one enormous, berthed sailboat. We also saw some dolphins rolling around in the water.
But the highlight was the sunset through the Chinese fishing nets, which we were told are Chinese in design only. Although the the Chinese were trading partners with Kochi from way back before anyone else, the nets are not run by some Chinese fishing syndicate. In fact, the part of the harbor in which they are located is so fished out that the nets don’t really do much fishing at all. Hashmat joked that the few fish they do manage to snare are probably gobbled up by the various types of birds that perch on the nets support pieces.
Fabulous welcome dinner of grilled, fennel encrusted prawns, a rich, creamy crab soup, a grilled fish of some local variety, a bunch of side dishes of unknown sorts, and a coconut milk and jaggery flan. The local white wine was, um, let us say, better after the third glass.