A Bite Into the Past

Shanghai airport selfie

Singapore airport selfie

Singapore is a strange yet interesting place to experience a 16 hour layover in between flights from India and the Gold Coast of Australia where I have recently arrived. It’s a mecca for travel and a melting pot for cultures from around the globe. Upon arrival, I found myself starving after refusing to buy a $14 turkey sandwich from my low-budget airline. Luckily I also found myself surrounded by restaurants with countless choices of different cuisines inside of the airport. Of all the choices, I couldn’t force myself to part ways with the amazing smell of Indian spices and I sat down and ordered my “go-to”, my “Kerala heaven on a plate”: lacha paratha and a beef biriyani. I took my first bite and it took me way back… Continue reading

Munnar in 24 hours

The classic 350cc Royal Enfield or “Bullet”

When I arrived in Kerala around 6 weeks ago it would never have occurred to me to drive here in India. Based on my first impression of driving I was overwhelmed just sitting in the passenger seat. But between making new friends and my thirst for experiencing more of this beautiful state, it’s amazing what a mere 45 days can do. But a journey is multi-faceted; it’s not only about where one is going, but how one gets there, and everything in between.

I arrived to Fort Kochi in the late afternoon in search of a Royal Enfield, a classic Indian-made motorcycle that I’ve had a crush on for a while now. The older models are “backwards” to the typical bike, with the gear foot-lever on the right side and the break lever on the left. I was determined to find the newer model where the arrangement is “normal”. After scouring the city and asking every bike rental and all the contacts available to me, it was apparent that there was no chance of finding what I was looking for. With that news I made the decision to go with what was available rather than what I wanted, (a perfect example of the flexibility that India demands) and I paid the Rs. 800, roughly $13 for the rental. I couldn’t believe what I’d just done: My first time driving in India and I’d rented a totally unfamiliar bike from an unfamiliar source with a 6 hour drive ahead of me, at night. My nerves were tingling at the realization!

Luckily, Dilshad, a friend from Marari Pearl who’d been planning everything for us, was with me. We started the drive through Cochin rush hour traffic. Slowly, I began to stretch my motorcycle-memory-muscles, and gradually the drive became more pleasurable. Soon enough, I was flirting with my 350cc beauty and she was smiling back.

Continue reading

Can Weasles Fly?

Photograph: Martin Le-May Twitter;

Weasel clutching on the back of a European green woodpecker; Photograph: Martin Le-May Twitter

According to Martin Le-May’s recent photograph that went viral a couple days ago, they can when they’re riding a woodpecker. I remember scrolling through Facebook and seeing the picture, but I didn’t take it seriously. There are many posts on Facebook that shouldn’t be taken seriously. We all have those friends who post everything and anything on the internet and swear it’s true. But how about National Geographic Magazine, is that credible enough? After reading the full article, and the research that went into proving it true, I am now a firm believer that it is, indeed, possible. And you?

Is the Photo Real?

As the viral video of the pig rescuing the baby goat taught us, just because something is cute doesn’t mean it’s real. But is the photo now known on Twitter as #WeaselPecker a fake? Continue reading

5 things you might not know about the science of coffee

wake-up-and-smell-the-coffeeIf you are like me, you are obsessed with your coffee. I love the taste, the smell, the sound the grinder makes, and of course, how it makes me feel. But have you ever heard of a “coffee nap”?

Scientists work tirelessly to uncover the mysteries of the natural world, from the reasons people binge to the best way to wash hands. Recently it was revealed that they’ve figured out why coffee served in white mugs tastes so bitter. (The contrast between the color of coffee and a white mug makes the joe look and taste bolder.) Coffee served in clear glass mugs tastes sweeter. Continue reading

Green turtle links Costa Rica’s Cocos Island with Ecuador’s Galapagos

Sanjay

Sanjay the green sea turtle is equipped with satellite tags before being released into the ocean. (Courtesy of PRETOMA)

To this day, scientists have tracked three different turtles that have traveled between two of the most fragile and important island ecosystems: The Galapagos Islands in Ecuador and The Cocos Island in Costa Rica. We are just starting to understand the importance of these breeding grounds and their interconnectivity with turtle migration and reproduction.

One normal migration for turtles, one giant discovery for humankind.

With his 14-day journey from the waters of Costa Rica’s Cocos Island National Park to the Galapagos Marine Reserve in Ecuador, “Sanjay,” an endangered green sea turtle, established the first direct migration link between the two protected areas.

Sanjay was one of three green sea turtles tagged by scientists from the marine conservation groups Turtle Island Restoration Network and PRETOMA during a 10-day research expedition. Using a $4,000 satellite tag, biologists from the organizations were able to map Sanjay’s exact migration.

“It’s truly remarkable. Sanjay knew where he was headed, Continue reading

Kerala Coconut Thatch Weaving

In my earlier posts, I wrote about the abundance of coconut trees in Kerala and their many uses from ingredients in typical foods to the construction of house boats. Another primary use is for roofing. Here at Marari Pearl, it is used unsparingly for most of the buildings from the restaurant to the 20 villas on site. Continue reading

Fixed-Dome Bio Gas

Bio-

Bio-Gas Plant

In my opinion sustainable tourism/practices, if done correctly and efficiently, will both benefit the environment and a company or individual. Although today, we are still trying to accomplish the previous with as much at hand as possible. Ideally, sustainability will come hand in hand with positive environmental outcomes and social and economic benefits.
However, some practices are more beneficial (in both instances) than others. Take recycling paper for example: the margin in producing new paper vs. recycling is much lower so incentives are likely lower. Aluminum cans on the other hand are much more cost effective to recycle, bringing higher benefits to both the producer (by reusing material) and for the environment (aluminum has a longer decomposition time). Continue reading

Beach activities at Marari Pearl

IMG_1492Team spirit is at an all time high at Marari Pearl! Recently, beach volleyball has become a ritual here, and high spirits are flaring. I have been interning here 3 weeks now and I have seen a great improvement in the skill level (including my own) of the sport. Guests have also been joining in and having a wonderful time. The excitement of the game has not only brought spectators from the resort, but also other people passing by who cannot help but join in on the fun. Continue reading

When the land heats up and air rises

DSC_8934

Three sisters

When land heats up and air rises, it gives way to fresh on-shore wind from the Arabian sea. A walk along Marari beach during sunset will most likely give the sight of homemade kites being flown mostly by children, but also adults of all ages. These kites are made of bamboo, newspaper and glue. Old fishing line is then attached and wound up on a bottle.

The children are very proud of their creations and will insist that theirs is the “best” of all and that you try it out. Choose carefully and watch the kite soar!

The Backwaters of Kerala, India

Upstairs deck/lounge

Upstairs deck/lounge

Our group of four was greeted with “tender coconuts” to drink while we got settled into the boat and into our bedrooms. Our houseboat was over 100ft long with three bedrooms, a dining room, an upstairs lounge deck and all the amenities of a hotel (including AC), I was in awe. The outside was covered in a coconut palm woven shell tied together by coconut husk rope. Truly a product of “Kerala”, meaning “Land of Coconuts”. Continue reading

Chinese Fishing Nets, Kerala

Marconi in front of of the nets in Fork Kochi

Marconi

Marconi is an original decedent of the Mongolian people (a Chinese state at the time) who were the creators of the “Chinese Fishing Nets” in Kerala, India. These structures are at least 30 ft high and the nets stretch out more than 50 ft across the water! It takes half a dozen people to even attempt to heave the nets which work on a pulley system with GIANT boulders hanging from the opposite side to counteract the weight. Continue reading

Kuttanad – “the rice bowl of Kerala”

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If you are like me, you enjoy the fresh air, green scenic views and appreciate a variety of cultures. Kuttanand, south of Cochin is a promising destination with its rich rice picking culture and its backwater systems. It also offers diverse species of animals, especially birds which can easily be spotted due to the open landscape.

Next on my Kerala bucket list!

To read more click here

(photo credits: Keralatourism.org)

From Cochin to the Periyar Tiger Reserve

Overlooking a local Chai plantation outside Thekkady

Overlooking a local Chai plantation outside Thekkady

India for the most part is spread out as one can imagine due to sheer size. In Kerala, you have the Kochin Harbor slightly west of the Cochi airport, the Backwaters to the south and to the east you have the third major attraction, the Periyar Tiger Reserve. About a three hour drive outside Cochi, one begins to see the change from the metropolitan to the rural “farmer lifestyle” that is popular in Thekkady. Local farmers mainly specialize in Cardamom, coffee and Chai or tea. However, the most noticeable of these are the Chai plantations which add a striking green layered look to the mountains (especially in the dryer months).

Local woman carrying bundled up Chai

Local woman carrying bundled up Chai

The road winds up, down and around these plantations, giving great perspective and unique photo opportunities around every corner. Historically, women are the ones who harvest the top layer of leaves from these bushes. The leaves are collected into sacks and then transported.

Cardamom County Hotel, located across the road from the tiger reserve offers very comfortable and affordable rooms and a great local Indian (specifically Keralan) cuisine. Continue reading

A drive to Fort Kochi, India

Sunrise over Cochin Harbor

Sunrise over Cochin Harbor

I flew into the Cochin airport in Kerala a few days ago for the first time. This is my first time to Asia and to a country whose language I do not speak (fluent in english and spanish). I was greeted by Udayan, one of Raxa Collective’s drivers who began driving me to the hotel. If you had read my last post, you would know that I am here to do an internship under Crist and Amie Inman (owners and operators of Raxa Collective), who I have been communicating with for months now. Amie especially, had warned me of the driving and how “In some parts of the world, people drive on the left side, others on the right side, but in India people drive everywhere”! That could not have been closer to the truth. As soon as we leave the airport parking lot, I hear horns going off, almost in symphony to one another, communicating back and forth. Tuk-tuks (a type of small yet quick 3 wheeler) are swerving in and out of traffic, motorcycles and cars zig-zagging in and out. The driver, completely calm and very good at what he does tells me that it will be a 45min drive. In my mind, I thought this wasn’t driving, but a type of noisy tetras.

Continue reading

Introduction & Upcoming posts

I would like to take a quick moment to introduce myself, my goals for the next few months and what I will be posting in this blog. I am a recent graduate from the University of Central Florida, Rosen School of Hospitality Management and I was born in Costa Rica.

I am excited to be interning at Marari Pearl (Kerala, India) starting this January. I don’t believe there will be a lack of material for me to write about in Kerala with its unique culture, customs, spicy foods and amazing animals! This will be my first time to Asia and I am quite sure it will be a great and rewarding culture shock and I want to convey my observations and thoughts about something totally new to me. Continue reading