Varkala: Indian irie
We’ve been here four days, now, and I’m already thinking how to best convince Xik to stay another day.
The black sand beach close to our homestay is a thin strip of ebony mottled with gold, as if someone dumped a pile of black glitter along the shore on a whim. When we first arrived on a Wednesday morning, it was mostly secluded aside from the few intrepid travelers who dared to venture away from the gorgeous cliffside Papanasham beach a few hundred meters away. I thought the black sand was dazzingly beautiful and couldn’t stop pacing the twinkling beach.
Papanasham beach takes the cake, though, with gold sand hemmed in by red cliffs lined with greenery, and the water is clear and almost turquoise. Colorful umbrellas dot the beach, and even more colorful people line the beach, all of us varying shades of red (or for the lucky ones, gold).
One early afternoon I spotted dolphins (or bufeo?) leaping fully out of the water, pretty close to shore, as if they wanted to play along with the many people who were cooling off in the shallows. The waves are ideal for boogie boarding and bodysurfing, and pretty much everyone tried one or the other, if they weren’t nose-deep in a book.
Ladies in colorful saris walk the beach, hefting huge canvas sacks of fruit and singing, “Yum yum yum yum pineapple! Yum yum yum yum coconut! Yum yum yum yum melon! You want?”
Feral dogs pace the beach, sniffing out food left behind by innocent souls gone swimming, and growl defensively when the owners come back and shout in dismay.
I earned a few pretty bad sand scrapes while bodysurfing, and contented myself thereafter either reading or collecting spiral shells of various types, all of which were gorgeous and miraculously intact. (I put them back, though… didn’t want to rob any hermits of some future home.)
Lining the cliff, high above the beach, is a boardwalk of sorts, with restaurants and shops selling the usual backpacker touts–supposedly silk scarves and pashminas, ‘genuine’ silver jewelry, and hippie clothes that look as if they’ve been imported from Thailand.
Overall, this is a haven for travelers and tourists alike. An ideal respite from the dust of the Indian road, in my humble opine.