In Southern Kerala where the rivers meet the ocean, there are tips of land that jut out through the waters like fingers, Kerala’s backwaters. Fisherman used to bring rice and other goods up and down the backwaters on large boats with rounded roofs made of wood and bottoms sealed with black resin, called kettuvallams. A visiting British man spent some time on these boats, floating down the peaceful waters with a group of men, and concluded it would make a great tourist adventure. He told this to a friend, and wallah! The rice boats were converted to houseboats, and now make up a huge part of Kerala’s booming tourist industry. Tourism is the main industry in Kerala now.
In Allepe we pulled into a small dock area loaded with houseboats, and were quickly introduced to our captain and first mate. They dropped jasmine necklaces over our neck, and handed us fresh coconuts with a straw in the hole. We climbed to the top of the boat to enjoy the view of the backwaters as we ate fresh fruit and sipped coconut juice.