Where are we now?

View Where are we now? in a larger map Jo, Annie, Miles and I are living in Northport, Alabama and working at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. We've been glad to be in one place for a bit after what appeared to be semi-permanently traveling (in actuality for a period of 2.5 years).We started this blog to catalogue some of the adventures when Jo and I were sequentially conducting our dissertation research in India and Brazil. While we've fallen off the blogging bandwagon somewhat during recent trips to Brazil, we're trying to pick it up again now that we're back in India!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Allepey: Part 2 (Backwaters)

For many, Kerala is synonymous with the Backwaters. A wetland region criss-crossed by canals, where people make a living through some combination of rice farming, or fishing. The backwaters--and the people whose daily lives are intertwined with this environment--are incredibly beautiful, and as a result, are one of the premier tourist destinations in Kerala. Luckily for us, they also happen to be right where one of my potential new field sites is located. 

There are very few roads that go through the area of the backwaters. Almost all transportation is by some form of boat. Most local people navigate the terrain using small canoes. Historically, these have been "punted," using long sticks. More recently, small outboard motors have taken over. Pictured above is a family travelling by canoe (umbrellas for shade) and in the background is a woman washing her clothes in the canal with banana trees and her home in the background.

Men (wearing traditional lungis) getting mangoes down using a bamboo pole.

Tourists explore the backwaters in one of several ways. First is via houseboat. These boats only go out for one evening. 

We opted to take a small boat that is a wider than a canoe and is covered. It's called a shikarra. It even came with lounge chairs with strange cartoon characters on towels!

We went out for two hours,  and it was pretty incredible. 
 The kids loved looking out the sides, and playing around on the bed that was set up in the middle. 
Jo tried for a while to get Miles to nap on the bed, but he just wanted to snuggle.

Snuggle and play. 


Riding in the boat through the small waterways provided an incredible snaphshot (or series) into everyday life for many Keralans. Not surprisingly, this includes extensive interaction with the natural environment for subsistence.

 Fishing with a net from the dock

Perhaps the coolest thing we saw was a man hunting with a bow and arrow for fish!


 He was kind enough to show us his catch--what appeared to be tiny piranhas?!?

People heading to church in a canoe

There was just a whole lot of lounging around, watching daily life. And it was beautiful.

 We're already looking forward to our next trip on the backwaters, perhaps we'll end up taking a houseboat!

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