With great sadness, we left Alleppey (still not really sure how’s that spelled) and headed on to Cherthala. We were so sad to leave our amazing hosts, they were so great. They even rushed us to the hospital at midnight and took the best care of us. We will never forget their kindness.
My six am face is not a pretty one. One of my favorite parts of staying with host families is learning about their lives and relationships. We are all very intrigued by the cultural differences in marriages here, so we are always so excited when couples open up about their own story with us.
Roby told us that their marriage was arranged and he had five minutes with her before he had to decide. He said they didn’t even have a conversation, but he saw her and knew in his heart. They were were one of the most affectionate couples we have met and she was one of the few women who would actually sit down and eat with us. They were so kind and so much fun to be around, we will miss them dearly.
We had our usual farewell breakfast. The sadness was briefly lifted by this little nugget:
How mischievous is she? They finally pulled us out of there and into the van for a short ride to our next stop.
When we arrived in Cherthala, we immediately went to visit a Coir factory. This is where they actually process the coconut husks to make rope and the materials my previous host father used to make his mats. Yajaira (pronounced yuh-hide-uh) learned to make rope from fibers. I never gave much thought to the actual creation of thread and rope, but it was quite interesting. Everyone enjoyed quite the laugh at our expense.
After all of that work, we were swept away to Ayurvedic massages. Vanessa and I were so excited, we had no idea what was coming.
So, that was the experience of a lifetime. I will never ever forget it. When we walked in, we were immediately stripped of everything by two teeny tiny women. And by stripped, I mean “oh hi tiny strangers, I’m naked now and this is awkward.” I was so bewildered that I just gave up and follow the small ladies. They then laid me on this wooden table and they started pouring oil all over me.
I could not stop laughing. The oil tickled and I felt so uncomfortable that all I could do was giggle like a lunatic. Just as I started to relax, they started running their hands over me in very fast and firm strokes. This was fine and all except for the fact that I was slathered in oil and I started sliding uncontrollably all over the table. The two women (whose combined weight was roughly half that of mine) could not keep me in place. I felt like I was in a greased pig race. I was pretty mortified.
The awkwardness endured for about an hour during which time I was told to relax about 900 times. I cannot relax, I am naked in front of like four strangers (people kept coming in and out). I also got jabbed in my rice gut for “sucking in.” Oops.
The most humiliating moment came at the end when they bathed me. Like soaped me up, washed my hair, and dried me. Like I was a small child. I just kept looking up and praying for the end. I’m a very modest person and that experience definitely raced right past my personal public nudity boundaries. Thankfully, once I was safely dressed and alone again I felt absolutely amazing. I would definitely do it again, I just wish there was some kind of “FYI you will be totally naked and touched by several small strangers” sign.
After we survived that ordeal, we quickly cleaned up and headed out to our evening Rotary meeting.
Four hours later, we were starting to lose it.