I am sitting in the front of the boat, looking out onto the backwaters of Alappuzha, aka. Allepey. I enjoy the pure tranquility of the calm waters.
This peace is suddenly interrupted by the chaotic sounds of crows looking for food. I witness the village around us come to life… a father soaps up his little boy while his older brother awaits his turn. They all go in the water to wash off. A fisherman paddles along the shores hauling his sunrise catch and hoping to sell everything to the local people. A woman comes out to wash her face and brush her teeth.
These magical Indian cultural scenes are rudely interrupted by the engines of five diesel motor boats passing by. The backwaters of Kerala are frequented by 1500 motor house boats and the ones we see in just a few minutes rock the only permanently-parked eco-boat; the one we are in.
Allepey is a picturesque city with backwaters, canals, beaches, lagoons, and is one of the most popular places to visit in the state of Kerala. So far I have travelled in South India without making any plans and just following other travelers’ recommendations along the way. A few people toldme to come to the backwaters and one friend specifically suggested that I go with Antony’s ecotour company to experience this magnificent place. I thought about just kayaking for the day but when I found out about the eco-houseboat, I had to try it out. My friend Simon from the Sivananda ashram joined me on this part of the trip. We opted for this green option (and perhaps a bit more expensive than other boats) to support this wonderful initiative from Antony, a young local entrepreneur who cares about his home state of Kerala.
We quickly come to understand how important it is to support businesses such as this one; which have the big ultimate goal of helping clean the waters of Kerala. The locals bathe, brush teeth, wash clothes, fish, and drink from this highly polluted water everyday. Hopefully Antony has started a trend that will catch on quickly with the tourists so that Kerala can clean its waters and keep its river culture alive for a very long time.