The fisher folk of Kovollan

This is a small village just to the west of Kanyakumari. It’s vibrant and colourful and reminds me of the little village up the west coast of South Africa called Patternoster. Chatting to a local school teacher here, he said that the history of this area goes back to 400BC, a deeply Catholic community with Mother Mary as their patron. The coastal belt is dotted with massive churches and a huge cathedral in the centre of Kanyakumari.

During our short stay we met a few characters, the first being Albert. What a cool guy. I had just finished the run and we were sitting on this point just looking out to sea, contemplating where to go and what to do and where to go. Albert and his wife had a small store, cooking deep-fried chillies, brinjals and bananas, he walked up to us and said, “Welcome to Kovollan this is for you”. He continued to feed us the whole evening and did we have a battle to pay in the end.

It was dark by now so we decided to pitch our tents on the point and collapse, we were just too tired to go and search for a spot. Tents up we set in for the evening listening to the quiet lapping of the waves on the Indian shore, sleeping under the watchful eye of a massive statue of mother Mary.

5:30 in the morning I was awoken to a light tapping on my tent. I did the tortoise number as I slowly stuck my head out looking from left to right in the dawn light to see what was going on. Then I hear this voice ahead of me. “Morning Sir good morning, coffee for you”

I was a bit confused at first as I looked into the sun, then I heard, “It’s me, me Albert, I have coffee for you”.

Good old Albert had walked about 2km to serve us each a cup of coffee that he had made at home and carried over to us.

Now up, we went down to the waters edge and met up with some more of the local folk, the fishermen. They had just returned from their all night fishing trip and were now sorting out the nets and repacking them. Much to our delight we were handed about 6 fresh fish for our breakfast.

While preparing our breakfast, the whole area was suddenly awash with women, all dressed with veils, but frantically working on a big patch of sand, digging and carrying the soil away in big dishes and dumping it across the road. We later found out that they were all helping in digging the foundations for a new church, later on Nick and I went over and helped them in the excavations, this seemed to put the whole exercise into total array as the women ended laughing at our attempt to carry the dishes of sand on our heads.

Tomorrow, our last day here we have been invited top go out fishing on a palm tree boat a few kilometers out to sea, should be interesting heading out to see on a log with an engine strapped to it.

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