We spent our last few days in India continuing to explore the state of Kerala, which is in the south-west of India. Ahead of our trip, I did know that Kerala has both a very diverse religious population, as well as a strong history of communism and socialism. But I was still really struck by the number (and sheer size) of the Christian churches throughout the area. It was remarkable to see such small villages supporting such large churches. Our driver began our trip pointing some of them out, but then gradually stop mentioning them (I think he was afraid of boring us!). And the kids were struck by the presence of hammer and sickle-themed graffiti, plus advertisements featuring Che and other revolutionaries and/or communist figures. We all enjoyed the fact that many signs for the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPIM) looked a lot like CRIM, especially from a distance. As these signs seemed to be everywhere, sprayed onto town walls and fences, the boys joked about the graffiti welcome they had to each town.

The pictures here are from our houseboat trip in the Allepey backwaters area, and our stay in a beautiful beach resort on Marari Beach (that is our cottage in the background of one of the pictures). The Indian Ocean was warm to swim in, and offered excellent waves in the early morning. Strong undertow though, and we ended our beach trip with one less pair of sunglasses (washed away) and one black and blue toe (goofy story of clumsiness in the strong surf, so of course it was me).

This port was a relaxing and wonderful family event. This is the first port we explored entirely on our own, as a family. Also the first port where we stayed primarily in less urban areas. As exciting as the cities in Asia have been so far, it was very nice to have some calm, serene time with bird sounds, gorgeous views, and quiet. Oh, and some of the best food I have ever eaten…

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