Day 114, Year 5: Beginning the Provisioning . . . Again
Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Weather: Still Hot, Hot, Hot
Location: Bolgatty Hotel Anchorage, Cochin (Kochi), India

Now that we are back in hot and polluted Cochin, we are starting to think about getting ready to leave here. Even though we still have two and a half weeks here, but it is time to start the provisioning process. We are enjoying our time here, but the air is always hazy with pollution and the boat literally turns a little gray after about a week. The canvas is absolutely filthy and there seems to be no hope of rain. It should rain at least two to three times while we are in the Chagos for two months, but it will have to be a deluge to clean the sail covers. So for now I use any clothes washing water I have and wash the boat down the best I can. We can get all the water for washing that we want on shore for about $2 US per week and we use that for showers, dish washing, clothes washing, and boat washing. But carrying the heavy water jugs is no fun, so I still try to conserve the best I can. There is no way we would run the water maker in this dirty water, so we are using the water in our tanks for drinking and cooking only. We are still on our first tank of two of drinking and cooking water, so that should last us until we leave here. Our friends on Constance are really getting tired of the dirt and I think they are going to head south sooner than we do. We liked traveling with another boat, but there are still things here I want to see and experience. So if they travel on, we’ll meet up with them again in the Chagos.

This afternoon we headed into town to start buying food for the next leg of our trip. We started our trip to town by walking to the main ferry terminal to talk to the woman at the Tourist Information Office. She was very helpful. She gave us a brochure outlining the waterway trip sponsored by the state tourist office and gave us all sorts of information about traveling to other locations for festivals. After leaving the ferry terminal, we took an auto rickshaw out to the train station area where I bought a backpack on my walkabout day. Mark needed a backpack as well, so we found one for him this afternoon. Good quality packs cost about $30 US, but they are really good quality, so we are hoping they will last longer that our last packs that we bought in Borneo. We then took another auto rickshaw back to the Varney’s Supermarket on Mahatma Gandhi Road. We were looking for liquid Tide laundry detergent that Mark swears he saw there the other day, but it was not there today. We then hiked down Jew Street which has a store dedicated to almost anything you can think of. I bought mailer envelopes from a stationary store, little rag rugs from a rag rug store to put on the cockpit seats where we enter and exit. Then we went to the big produce and fish market to look for garlic, onions, and tomatoes. We have found a grocery store with frozen chicken breast and pork roast, so if we get our freezer fixed, we can buy some meat to replenish. And we can surely buy all the fruits and vegetables that we will need in the market place. We have learned since being here that rice is not just rice, bananas are not just bananas, and that a whole sundry of other things are just not what they seem. When you go to buy rice in a US supermarket, you have a few choices. Here there are shelves of choices. I know that I like long-grain Basmati rice and that is very expensive here in terms of Indian prices. I have to pay 72 Rupees per kilo for this which is about $0.75 per pound. In the scheme of things, that is not expensive, but it is much more expensive than other types of rice. There must be more than a hundred different kinds of bananas here and more vegetables than I can describe for which I have no names. So shopping is interesting, but most anything in the world that you might want is either on Market Road, Jew Street, or in one of the three major supermarkets. So that at least defines the limits, and none is too far from the waterfront where we come to shore with our dinghy.

Our good friends Robert and Tina of Shirena are probably leaving Oman for Yemen about now. Because Yemen in nearly in civil war, their stop in Aden will be very short. They have had a mixed time in Oman. People are friendly but dealing with officials can evidently be very “interesting.” Here’s what Robert reported about their experience in trying to rent a car to do inland travel. “In Salalah we have fun with authorities and other matters. Yesterday we needed six rental cars and… none arrived. The agent did not order them! He had to take the drivers to the rental company to collect the cars. It was quite an experience! The agent walked trough the yard with some nice as well as crushed cars. Some cars had flat batteries thus he jumped started them. Later people forgot about that and turned the engines off – well, they had to jump start them again. Our car had a flat tire and… no spare one. We were promised we would get the spare but that never happened. Nevertheless we traveled to Mirbat, a town about 70 kms from the port. This was where we anchored on the way to Salalah. The town still has ruins from the war forty years ago but it is a good place to visit. We went to a restaurant that overlooks the bay. The food was good and we enjoyed watching fishermen pulling out fish traps with plenty of fish, some very big. In the evening we went with others to have dinner in Lebanese restaurant. It was again great food. Fatty will soon have the name that fits him!”

Robert is referring to Fatty Goodlander. And here he has a story about Carolyn Goodlander, “Today, we went to do last shopping before the departure. On return to the harbour we were stopped by the police at the gate. Usually, they check our passports and let us go. Sometimes they do not even check the passports. This time the guard requested a permit for the car! We did not have one. He sent us to the other gate. There they requested rental papers – what rental papers!? We returned to the gate to the port hoping someone would take our shopping and we would just leave the car there, since we can go but not the car. Carolyn decided to have a go at the policeman. She won! He let us go!”

We wish Robert and Tina, Fatty and Carolyn, and the many other cruisers that we know that are headed to the Red Sea safe travels through the Gulf of Aden. We will certainly be anxious to know they have arrived in the Red Sea safely.

100217 Day 114 India–Shopping in Ernakulam