After leaving at midnight to catch an eight hour long night train, we arrived at our accommodations. They were really nice, other than the fact that the beds were like rocks and Johanna and I found a spider in our toilet that was the biggest I'd ever seen in my life. Seriously, it was like the size of my hand. Pictures didn't do it justice, so I'm not even going to bother posting any of them here. But take my word for it, the beast was huge.
Most of our time in Kerala was spent taking classes about economics, but we did get to do some really cool things, like go for a boat ride on the Backwaters, which is all these canal-type rivers. It's actually called the "Venice of India." We saw the sun set over the water, and it was the first time in India that I got to see what I pictured as a classic "Indian sunset" before I got here.
We also got to wade in the Arabian Sea! It was warm and lovely! Other than the fact that in India, women go to the beach fully clothed. It was pretty icky to pull off all our wet, sandy clothes in the dark. Not to mention the cafe bathroom we were going to change in was locked, so we girls just held up a towel and changed in the back corner of the complex in the dark. It was really crazy and felt daring. Kirk stood guard for us though! What a guy.
We visited Amma's Ashram, a holy place where people visit to be devotees of Amma (meaning "Mother"), this woman who is the "hugging saint." Amma's whole shpeal is that she hugs people and alleviates some of their suffering or whatever. Amma herself wasn't there while we were visiting because she spends the majority of her time traveling the world and hugging people everywhere. But her mission also donates tons of money to relief after disasters and helping people and all sorts of stuff. It was a pretty interesting thing to learn about and her group does good work throughout the world. Unfortunately, she is doing all of these good things in the world, but people are worshiping her. It was kinda hard for us as a group of Christians to get behind her work. It seemed rather false prophet-ish to us.
During our last day, we visited several small churches and sites around Cochin. We got to see that site where the Apostle Thomas supposedly stepped off his boat (although, like everything in Jerusalem, it's rumored to be the site and who knows what is really the case...). And then we headed back again, on another train to Coimbatore.