Friday and Saturday we took 2 days to take a break in a beautiful area of Kerala, the district named Wayanad. The landscape in this rain forest plateau of the Western Ghats is exquisite, and I had the good fortune to be invited by a student to visit his plantations. He shared with me mid-week a refrain I have heard many times here, "I used to be a software engineer, but now…" His new venture is quite challenging and fascinating to learn about. He is working on trying to reduce the amount of labor needed to grow such crops as ginger, and is using both his farming roots and background coupled with skills honed in his 10-year experience as a software engineer for Intel. He is using embedded systems, which, as best as I could understand, is a fancy software-engineer term for micro-computers. The plantation itself was an exciting field trip for me, as I've never seen plantations of coffee, let alone of ginger, cardamon, turmeric and pepper. Add to that the greenhouses with the experiments in reducing the labor, cutting out the soil (growing everything hydroponically), and other cool stuff, and the afternoon was like the best of field trips, both informational and fun. Of course his mother, was a typical Keralan host, providing us with libations immediately upon our arrival, then she disappeared to prepare a multi-dish meal for us when we finished touring the grounds. What a treat.
We also stayed in a tent-like hotel that was in a coffee plantation, with a great laid-back host and good food, and we began plotting immediately how to get back here in May when the wildlife sanctuary promises to have herds of wild elephants. For now, we were content to see the country side of rolling tea plantations, scores of butterflies of all colors, and see where our kitchen's spices originate. This state is famous for being gorgeous, and this district of this state seems to be well above average on the gorgeous scale. Check out pictures of the weekend HERE.