The Hermitage Guest House is remote–a 90-minute drive down pothole-laden roads from the nearest city of Belgaum.  It’s in the Western Ghats, a monsoon forested area  in the mountains that run parallel to the Indian coast.  The hosts, David and Morvarind moved here 33 years ago to start a sustainable farm.  Some years later, they built three small guest cottages on the site and now host the occasional travelers as well.  David is an indivdual who goes against the grain.  He grew up in urban Bombay, expected to go to school and become a fourth-generation lawyer.  To hear him talk, it’s just as improbable in India as in the U.S. for a city boy to declare that he’s moving off the grid and starting a sustainable farm.  Over the years, they’re dabbled in many types of agriculture.  Right now, they have oil palms, coconuts, bananas, a large vegetable plot, and they’re prepping to raise chickens again.  Raised Catholic, David married Morvarid, from the Parsi community.  Was that challenging for your family, I asked.  “Why yes,” Morvarid said, her eyebrows raised, “but of course it was!”  Morvarid does most of the cooking–a mix of Indian, Parsi, Portuguese, and British–and it’s delicious.  During the day, David took us on hikes of the perimeter of the farm and the neighboring state-owned forest.  Joel and I spent the rest of the time louging around the open-air dining hall, reading field guides to the region, watching langur monkeys swing by, while Simon caught up on his sleep.  At night, we took night walks to see wildlife.  I was hopeful that we’d see a slender loris–they’re fairly common here–but they outwitted us with their slow, stealthy moves.


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