Lakshadweep Part 3: Kalpeni

December 27, 2008

After the late night at Kavaratti the previous day, we almost didn’t want to go ashore on Friday, but after the usual mad rush in the morning, we found ourselves on the boat out by 8 a.m. It was a long and wonderful ride. We headed straight for a long strip of land, then veered to the right, passed another strip of land, and kept on going, passed a sweet-looking house on the edge of the sea, passed a land bridge between what would have been two separate islands, passed a jetty, passed a lighthouse, and finally drew up at another jetty. From here, a series of small vehicles transported us to the furthest tip of the island, where another small fleet of boats took us to yet another island. This island was tiny, and obviously uninhabited. Bathrooms and lunch were available back at the main island. On this appendage island, there was snorkeling equipment, more kayaks, and, later, a couple of drums of lemon juice.


As before, the lagoon water was clear, shallow, and still. After getting the girls into the water for a bit, I got hold of a snorkeling set and went off on a long circuit. Snorkeling was easy once I had figured out how to keep the air pipe upright. The goggles were wonderful, again, though here there wasn’t as much to see. In places, the water was too shallow to swim, but I hated walking through it because the floor was full of poky, squishy, icky things that I didn’t want to touch. Sea cucumbers littered the area and they look like cucumbers that have gone rotten and squishy, or alternatively, like big, dark, sticky lumps of turd. I actually stepped on one and it was… Ewwwwwww… Gross!

Our time on the little island ended all too quickly and we had to traipse back over what looked like volcanic rock and pebbles, get into horribly overcrowded boats that scraped along the bottom of the sea, with the water literally lapping at the edge of the boat, until we had covered almost half the distance back to Kalpeni, where the water was deep enough to risk starting the engine. Nobody was afraid of drowning if the boat capsized: the chap pushing the boat was not even in up to his waist. Still, if the girls and/or the camera had fallen in, it would have been a nuisance (or a disaster).

Lunch followed, and so did another folk dance and another sightseeing trip. We had seen a little more of Kalpeni than we did of Kavaratti, because of the long, winding drive from the jetty to the beach. We had caught sight of a police station, a post office, a government press, some houses and yards, some chickens and hens. Again, there was not much activity catering to tourists. Perhaps we should have gone on the sightseeing tour, but the twins were tired and cranky. So we took them and sat down under a palm tree in a breezy, shady spot, and in a few minutes they were both sound asleep.

The ship had promised to return by 5.30, and by 4, it was just visible, an indistinct white blur on the horizon. Apparently, the sea was quite rough and winds were high, so the ship had sent word to get people back on board in double quick time. We heard that normally the ship would come around to a wharf on the other side of the island, just 5 minutes’ boat ride away, but that it had been forced to come around to this gate — which was usually used only during the monsoon — due to the rough seas and high winds.

The girls awoke just as it was time to get going. The ride back was a little rough, but not anything spectacular and we were home and dry by a little after 5. We spent the evening getting clean and keeping the girls entertained. The ship was rolling quite dramatically now, making it difficult to walk straight. The kids were still trying their usual antics, with results that were sometimes hilarious, sometimes almost tragic. We went out on to the deck (with a great deal of reluctance on Amit’s part) and found that the swaying wasn’t half as noticeable in the open air. In addition, we were treated to occasional bolts of lightning.

It had been a tiring day, and by 9.30 we were all tucked up and out like so many lights.

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