we slept overnight on the house boats and woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the water.
the sunlight illuminated the boats perfectly.
the crew burned incense on the bow of the boat, as we cruised through the canals out onto the open lake.
we were served breakfast (photo below) on our ride back to the resort, passing local fishermen and water ferries along the way.
the house boats docked right next to the pool at the resort we'd left the morning before.
i wandered around the resort a bit more before we left that afternoon. the gardens and pools were just breathtaking. i even met a little bunny friend.
i went back to my room to pack up. as usual, i found that housekeeping had taken care to position the bear just so -- leisurely propped up in the suit case, arms crossed like a maharajah.
i checked out and gave back the enormous key necessary to open the ornate kerala door on my room. i really enjoyed my last hours at the resort.
it was almost a 4-hour drive from the kumarakom lake resort back to the cochin airport. along the way we saw some rush hour buses practically buckling on the sides with commuters. we also got to try some traditional kerala street food -- fried bananas and peanut brittle.
at the cochin airport, our flight was delayed. i had a connection in mumbai, but i'd booked it on my own, not through the tour company. nevertheless, the tour guys hustled to move us all onto a different flight on another airline, to ensure we got to mumbai as soon as possible. that would never happen in america. as we entered the terminal to fly to mumbai, we walked down what felt like a red carpet because there were so many people standing there, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their loved ones.
a similar scene met us in mumbai (after our nightmare flight on air india -- an airline i hope to never do business with again), but don't let the photo below fool you. the mumbai airport isn't nearly as nice as this photo makes it look.
this stairwell (inside the airport!) is much more representative. this is where i waited for an ancient elevator to bring me to the departures level.
navigating the departures level at the mumbai airport was a challenge. the sidewalks are crowded with snack vendors, disorganized gaggles of family members, and a surprising number of people napping on the ground. i passed a lot of signage directed at haj pilgrims, something else you'd rarely find in america.
my trip was very nearly perfect, except for my final hours in india battling the air india bureaucracy and the interminable chaos of the mumbai airport (a cockroach crawled on me while i was eating dinner. sigh).
i was pleased, in a way, because it made me grateful and excited to be headed home. i feel like i really squeezed every last drop of awesome out of this trip to india, and i'm so thankful to have had the opportunity. from the life-changing TED India conference, to the peaceful banks of lake vembanad, i breathed it all in, and i am supremely satisfied.