Day 119, Year 5: Tour of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin
Date: Monday, February 22, 2010
Weather: Clear, Sunny Day and HOT
Location: Bolgatty Hotel Anchorage, Cochin (Kochi), India

Before getting into today’s little tour on the island of Fort Cochin, I’ll do an update on who is where. Our friends Robert and Tina of Shirena have less than thirty hours to go in the Gulf Aden before they reach Aden in Yemen. They are with twenty-five other boats and have reported the problems that boats are having and the way the convoy of sailboats have dealt with the problems. They have vowed to leave no one behind, so at least two boats are being towed at this point. All is going well, but there is just no wind. So it is motor, motor, motor. But there have been no piracy incidents and we can only hope that it stays that way. This first convoy was organized by Tom and Nicolette of Katanne, a boat from the UK. The second convoy that was supposed to leave Oman on March 1 was to be led by the man who organizes the Vasco de Gama rally. But evidently the boats coming from the Med are stuck in Eritrea and a number of people are very sick. So the organizer will not reach Oman in time to lead the March 1 convoy. We’ll see what happens with that, but it is obvious from the first convoy that cruisers can organize themselves. That is probably what will have to happen.

Now back to India. Mark took Ed and Lynne of Constance to shore at 6 am this morning. Ed and Lynne then went on to the Cochin Airport where Lynne was flying out at about 9:30 am local time and arriving in Dubai at 1:30 pm local time (noon Dubai time). Once Ed returned from the airport (which is about an hour and a half from here), we all took the ferry to Fort Cochin Island. We first went to Mattancherry where we could see the Pardesi Synagogue in Jew Town. This synagogue was originally built in 1568 but the Jewish people first came to the southwest coast of India in the first century AD. It is a fascinating story and we really enjoyed our tour of the synagogue. Photography was not allowed, but I bought a couple of postcards and took photos of those that I will post with this log. We then walked to the Matttancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace. This palace was built by the Portuguese in 1555 and was given to the Raja of Kochi at that time. The Dutch renovated the palace in 1663, thus the alternative name of the Dutch Palace. We saw beautiful Hindu murals depicting Hindu legends in detail, walked through the gallery of maharajas from 1864 that had a great time line of world history intermixed with Indian history displayed, and saw a wonderful collection of palanquins (hand-carted carriages). It was definitely a good stop, but it was almost 1:30 pm when we got through the museum and we were very hot and hungry. So we hopped on an auto rickshaw to go across the island to Fort Cochin for lunch. I wanted to eat at the Dal Roti restaurant that the Lonely Planet had declared to have the best food in Fort Cochin. We had a good lunch, but nothing to compare with the food we have been getting in Ernakulam at the Hotel Saravana Bhavan for much less money. So we had an enjoyable lunch, but not the “best food in Fort Cochin” as written in the Lonely Planet. Or maybe it was the best food in Fort Cochin, but certainly not the best in the Kochi area. We then walked to the Bishop’s House to visit the Indo-Portuguese Museum. Unfortunately, it is closed on Mondays, so we just walked about the grounds. We then walked past a house where Vasco de Gama is believed to have lived. From there we went to the St. Francis Church which is believed to be the oldest European-built church in India. It was originally built in 1503 and Vasco de Gama was buried here in 1524. Fourteen years later his remains were taken to Lisbon but we could still see where he was originally buried in this church. We walked from here to the Catholic Santa Cruz Basillica. This is surrounded by schools and it was the end of the day. So we watched the school children leaving and getting on buses and autorickshaws to head home. The original structure built on this site was in 1506, but today’s Basillica was built in 1902. The interior of the church was quite interesting. But by this time, we had all just about had enough of touring for the day, so we made a bee-line for the ferry terminal. Our timing was great as a ferry was just about to leave. We got back to Ernakulam, walked the waterfront to the High Court Jetty, and then went on the Bolgatty Jetty to our dinghy. We dropped Ed off at Constance and then went over to the Bolgatty Palace Hotel to pick up a package they had called to tell us had arrived. It was our Amazon order of books about Madagascar. We used a gift certificate from Heather and Jed to order these books, and it was wonderful to get them. Mark has been pouring through the books all evening and is getting more and more excited about our visit to Madagascar. So thank you Heather and Jed for that wonderful gift certificate.

We are still waiting for our compressor to receive clearance and be sent from Chennai to Cochin. We will have to wait until morning to make calls about that, but tonight we will make calls to the US to track down tax information that has never reached our daughter’s address. So the fun continues!

100222 Day 119 India–Back to Mattancherry and Fort Cochin