We only had one night at Mundackal Estate so after a delicious breakfast of Dosas (crispy pancake), the sweetest, best tasting bananas in the world and honey we said our farewells to both Jose and Daisy and our new best friends, Cynthia and Janet.
We’d really enjoyed our stay here but it was time to move on and Vaiju then started driving the one hour 30mins drive up to Munnar. Munnar is high in the West Ghats (hills) and it wasn’t long before we commenced the climb. Early on we passed through several towns where the local Communist Party are very popular as evidenced by all the little red flags with the hammer and sickle on them and lots of bunting along the streets. The road bends and winds for miles and miles as we climbed ever higher. We had a couple of stops to look at waterfalls along the way along with lots and lots of Indian tourists who make a colourful scene in their splendid saris.
Eventually we arrived at our next homestay where we’d be for the next two nights. This was the one I’d been really looking forward to as it looked really sweet and was called The Rose Garden Homestay. It was in fact about 20kms down from Munnar.
We were greeted this time by Tommy, his wife Raji and their son Dilip. They were lovely and smiley and welcomed us in.
Up here the temperature had dropped considerably and I’d go as far to say that it was cold. They served us a simple, tasty lunch on the balcony where we sat and admired the view through the trees. After this I decided to do a little painting sketch of the view. Unfortunately there was no electricity but just one light in our room powered by battery back up when we arrived and as a result no wifi. They thought it would be back on quite soon.
At 4pm we agreed we’d like to do Tommy’s tour of his garden. Compared to Mundackal it’s only small but he operates a little nursery growing and selling plants to local people and hotels. He had lots of lovely flowers and his garden was very pretty and he enjoyed taking us around and showing us all the different plants and especially his bats! He also took great pride in showing us his tank where he used kitchen and garden waste to produce enough gas for the household! You were left wondering ‘why don’t we all have one of these?’. Once again he grew lots of fruit, veg and spices and it was interesting to see where cardamon comes from. Basically, a very large (6ft) leafy plant in the same family as ginger and turmeric where the nodule seeds just grow at the base and can be picked every 45 days. He also had a very impressive vanilla plant which had about 100 pods growing on it. I’m not sure how much he gets for them though compared to how much Waitrose charge!
After our tour he suggested we walk upto the viewpoint just up the road which we did along with other guests Pamela and Ian from Yorkshire. It was getting a bit late and it was cloudy but the views back down and across the Ghats are excellent.
That night we all dined together so we also met a nice couple from Leeds and we enjoyed exchanging tales of our various travels. Remind me never to go camping in the Argentine Pampas looking for Anaconda. Apparently you get eaten to death by mosquitos! Talking of which, unusually it is me that has had a few bites here…Jane has remained unscathed. Touch wood.
That night everyone was warning that a storm was coming in and Dilip even told Jane that ‘this sort of weather normally means there is going to be a tsunami.’ Thank god then that we were high up in the hills. However, that night a storm did indeed hit. Before it went dark it became really, really windy and we saw some branches come down even from our balcony. We went to bed and listened to the sound of the wind and rain pelting down on the house’s tin roof. I must admit I was wondering why on earth we had travelled all this way to this place and its English weather and unreliable electricity supply which was still off and on every five minutes.
Ps In da Bundu is a reference to a trip to S Africa with Laura H. It means you are in the back of beyond. Or at least that’s what we said it meant and have done ever since.