We didn’t get out if the airport in Kerala until around 4 in the morning, so there wasn’t much to do but sleep. One observation we couldn’t help but make on the way to the friary, is that driving in India is crazy! For starters, don’t expect to see lane lines, stop lights or speed limits, and they drive on the left side of the road. Another thing to note is the traffic will be a mixture of people walking, riding bikes, driving scooters, little buggies and big trucks. Because there is a mixture of fast and slow vehicles, passing is permitted on any kind of road. Without any lane lines, passing becomes a little more dangerous and there are a whole lot of close calls.
When driving in these conditions, your car horn is your best friend. Unlike the U.S. when you use your horn you usually follow it with using a profanity, on the Indian roads, using your horn simply lets another driver know that you are passing them on the right.
Anyways, once we survived the drive and made it to Assisi Shanthi Kendra, we went to bed for a couple of hours and spent the rest of the day relaxing and getting to know the friars.
Father Leo, who most people should know from around campus, took us on the tour around the friary. A couple of interesting pets we say along the way:
I think I can get use to waking up to a view like this every morning.
The second day is when we started exploring Kerala. We traveled to Cheraman Juma Masjid, which is India’s oldest Islamic shrine and the second oldest Juma Mosque in the world. Woman are not allowed in the mosque, but neither were any of the guys on this day because it was a holiday and only muslims are allowed in on holidays. We did get to go through their museum and see some of the old artifacts from when the mosque was built.
Our next stops were a couple of the first Christian churches in India, founded by St. Thomas. The first was Azheekode, where they actually have a shrine which holds a bone from St. Thomas’s right hand.
After Azheekode, we traveled to Palayoor, where the second church that St. Thomas built was located.
The last stop of the day was the most exciting one which was Guruvayoor. Here they had an Elephant Sanctuary, with over 30 elephants.
These elephants are used for different Hindu ceremonies such as parades and weddings. What I was told is the more elephants in a wedding procession, the more impressive the wedding.
I will continue to keep you posted on my experiences as the trip continues!