Well, internet access has been very bad for the past few days so I am now posting about our last port in India, Cochin.
Cochin is a city built on islands, some manmade. There are 24 islands and 5 are connected by bridges. It was originally settled and built by the Portuguese.
Our guide was Cleetus. He explained that spices are the main export here, especially pepper, which grows on vines that survive on other trees. In fact, Cochin is called the land of spices Hard to see but the small green “berries” are pepper.
Monsoon season is coming to an end here, but there hasn’t been much rain, they attribute this to global warming. Normally they get 12 feet of rain a year.
We didn’t see any cows in the street, so someone asked Cleetus where the cows are, and he replied in a quizzical manner “in the cow shed!” No animals are holy here. They have water buffalos here and the ice cream is supposed to be the best! We didn’t have time to try it.
Cochin has 1.5 million people and half are Christian, mostly Catholic due to the Portuguese influence.
There is a high literacy rate here – 94%, and the lowest birth rate in India – 2 children. Many people work outside India and Clettus’s father is one of them. He works in Dubai and comes home only once a year,
People own the trucks here and they are colorful and often “named”. Here’s an example:
We went to the St. Francis church, the oldest European church in India and noted the cemetery with its plain white crosses. Vasco de Gama is buried here.
This is VERY different from what we heard about the Parsis, who have revived the Tower of Silence in old Bombay where the dead are taken and the birds (mostly vultures) eat their bodies.
We visited the Indo-Portuguese Museum and the Bishop’s House which had wonderful examples of the art and architecture of the region.
Our last stop was “Jew Town” which was once a thriving Jewish enclave in the late 1500s. Now there are 4 families with 6 Jewish people here, but the name of the region persists. We shopped in the markets here, wonderful for spices, and yes, these ladies wanted a picture of me with them, and then wanted me to take their picture.
We drove along the water’s edge and saw the first visual symbol of ancient trace and the shared inluence of Cochin, the Chinese fishing nets. These fixed and cantilevered fishing nets are the icon of Cochin sea trade and cannot be found anywhere else in India. it is said that Chinese traders brought these huge fishing nets to Cochin from the court of Kublai Khan. All kinds of fish and other items for sale here. Note the water buffalos and the goat near the fishing nets!