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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Manalar papparazzi

We took a refreshing Sunday break during our first weekend at ASSA, by hiring a driver and heading up into the hills of the Western Ghat Mountains, where Tamil Nadu meets Kerala. We wound through tiny villages with thatch-roofed huts, and oxes pulling carts. Sometimes, the car had to drive through the river to continue (a good spot for a carwash!)

We crossed into Kerala, and were greeted by a giant waterfall, and a lot of Indians taking their own vacation days who were thrilled to see tourists so far into the countryside. There were long lineups to climb into the waterfalls, and along the way, we had many people ask to take our photos with them and shake their hands. In fact, it became so hectic that at one point we felt like celebrities being chased by papparazzi, and we had to make a physical escape.  People seemed to be in great spirits because they were beating the heat.

Randy climbed the hill to the male section, and a couple of nice Indians showed him the best place to stand in the waterfall, where the water thunders down on your head and shoulders. The crowd was jubilant. Indian boys would stack themselves into standing human pyramids 3 stories high before they crashed into the water. A group of guys lifted Randy over their heads and carried hiim into the waterfall. dy was picked up by a bunch of young guys and carried into the waterfall.

The girls had to fight through a frenzy of pushing women to gain access to a smaller pool below, where, they noted, they were bathing, fully-clothed, in the runoff from the mens section! Female Keralan police officers were blowing whistles and trying to direct people out of the waterfall to keep the flow of people moving.

We followed the waterfall by driving up another hill, winding past palm and fruit trees and emerging at a temple with a stunning view of the countryside in all directions. We saw rolling green farms, windmills and jagged mountains. Altogether, the drive into the mountains was exhilarating and worth the journey from town.