Arriving in Kochi, was traumatic. Ok, it was far from traumatic. That's a bit of an exaggeration but it was fraught. My sleep deprived, jet lagged brain failed to process the assault of incoming information. Heat; noise; dust; a Visa card that refused to work in any of the ATMs that we tried, and we tried every one we could find; a taxi ride in a Tata oven, actually it was a Tata car, but as far as my brain was concerned it was unable to detect any discernible difference.
We crashed, banged and swerved our way through the cacophony of horn blaring rush hour traffic as we made our way from the airport. At least we did for some of the time, for most of the time we were stationary while the two wheeled section of the traffic swarmed around us in a noisy, terrifying berserker of a dance. All the while the Tata thermostat was set to roast as my brain froze from the information overload – it locked up as tightly and immutably as a website offering free FA Cup Final tickets would if plugged into a dial up connection.
My first impressions of Kochi, as you may have gathered, were not favourable. Things marginally improved when we arrive at our guesthouse, although most of this improvement came about simply because we were able to get out. And that was about all we could do.
The guesthouse was locked and there was nobody to be seen anywhere. Knocking on the door produced little result apart from bruised knuckles. Luckily, the proprietors mobile number was on the sign outside, not that this stroke of luck was of any us to us at the present as it couldn't be reached from our UK mobiles, as my brain was still refusing to cooperate and provide me with the international dialling code for India.
The taxi driver, who was still hanging around in the hope of a tip and, I'd like to think, beginning to feels a bit sorry for these brain addled idiots that it was his misfortune to pick up at the airport, didn't know the code either. By now a few people had began to assemble to view this strange spectacle of a small group standing in a circle around a couple of suitcases all looking at each other and all scratching their heads. All this as the tropical midday sun beat down on us at the height of the dry season.
At this point out luck took a turn for the better, a passing tuk tuk driver, always on the alert for a fare, spotted this small gathering and came over to see what's going on. Our taxi driver said something to him and although I don't speak a word of the local language I'm willing to bet that it was “I've been landed with two idiots, they booked into a guesthouse that's closed, they've mobile phones that don't work and they're gibbering incoherently in the heat”. Fortunately, Peter the tuk tuk driver, for that was his name as we were later to discover, took out his phone and rang the number on the sign. From this point onward things took a considerable turn for the better. The owner turned up, he lent us the money to tip the taxi driver and the crowd dispersed after many heart felt thanks, shaking of hands and general agreement that this was almost certainly the best possible outcome.