Upon arriving at the train station in Goa, I realized I could have gotten off the train at one of the stops about an hour before I actually did get off. To get to the town I needed to be at, I could have spent 4 hours getting off and on local buses, or I could get back on a train that leaves in 2 hours and save some money. I took the train. When I get off at correct station, it was completely deserted. I step off the train expecting a train station overly crowded with people with luggage shoving their way around, rickshaw drivers pestering people who just got off the train, touts hustlin snacks and souvenirs, beggars grabbing you for money etc. But there is no one in sight. No one. I walk out of the train station expecting to get a taxi or rickshaw to the town I need to go to, and there is absolutely no one around. Here is where I felt the first feelings of being a true traveller. I was competely deserted in a town with no one around to help or ask for directions, a true test of my backing spirit. With a deep exhale and a good intention, I find a main street, start walking and begin to hitchike. A man picks me up on a bike and says he can take me to Arambol but due to his price, I kindly decline his offer. He drives me around til we find a rickshaw free of charge. From the rickshaw driver I get taken into Arambol. 20 kilometers away from the train station, it was a very quite and soothing ride even though I couldnt see anything around me because it was so dark.
I get to the main market and it poppin like the strip of Las Vegas on a summer friday night. Tourists overcrowd the area peering into the shops to see what they can buy. The street is lined with shops all selling "new age" clothes with a blend of eastern and western themes, bongs, pipes, anything and everything that has marijuana leaves on it, and even a few not so clean tattoo parlors. Its almost 10pm and the town is still going like it is 10am. I pay my rickshaw driver and walk down the road going from place to place looking for a cheap bed to sleep on. Once I find one, and settle in my room, I hit the market to see whats all the commotion is about. I must have been offered drugs 20 times, easy. On my way I found a restaurant that has different movies playing each night and it just so happens that when I walked by, one of my favorite movies just started. Borat. Oh how this movie makes me laugh. So there I sat, front row, with a huge steaming tasty cup of chai, and a smile on my face. I was at this restaurant every night I stayed in Arambol. The movie nights with the good choice of movies, good food and good atmosphere, gave me something to look forward to and enjoy staying in Goa, while at the same time, saving me from punching the next person in the face who tried to sell me drugs. I loved that little restaurant. It even had mexican food! The first Ive seen so far in India! I ordered a veg burrito and it was in no way mexican ahaha. It still tasted like indian food just with the spices kicked down a notch, and attempted to be wrapped in a tortilla. However, I savored every bit of it.
The weather here is hot with clear picturesque blue skies. I constantly find myself waking up in a pool of my sweat. Initially I thought I had alittle..accident...due to the volume of liquid around me, but no, it was sweat. The weather is scorching here, or atleast it seems that way because for the past 4 months Ive been battling with staying warm most of the time and as a result to save room in my pack, Ive sent back almost everything I brought with me including all my clothes from home. The only article of clothing I am carrying in my pack is a pair of clean underwear. I am traveling as LIGHT as possible to make it easier to travel around, and it was worth every ruppee to send home. This is they way to travel thats best suitable for me; as free as a bum, with as little and as light as possible. The complete opposite of how I started, where I had everything imaginable stuffed in my backpack so I could "be prepared for anything". I bought cheap indian clothes so I wouldnt care about them and once I got to Goa, I ripped the sleeves off my plaid/flanel shirt and cut my pants into shorts. All of this with combined my goatee, I look like pure white trash from Texas living in a trailor park. Geeeettteeeeeerduuuuuuun!
The beaches here are huge and lined with beach shacks where they have every food you can imagine. Mainly seafood and meat dishes and hardly any good indian food. They toned down the spice in their indian food and as a result doesnt taste like I ordered this dish in India, quite weird. Thats one way you know the tourists have changed a place, when they cook international dishes better than their domestic dishes. I prefered drinking the cocounuts. Oh manm they were so fresh and tasty when you ate the flesh inside. Its a great sight to be sitting on a beautiful beach surrounded by palm trees with the sun upon your wet body drinking a coconut. The scenary on the beach is almost fairtale-like. Palm trees flood the beach shacks and green plantation is everywhere you look, even on the near and far hills in the horizon, everything is green and the streets and beach are CLEAN! Walking around the beach your feet burn from the firey sand, and scattered around the beach you will find what seemed to be deserted boats, for they never wet out to sea. They just sat there. At night time, the beach turned into a party scene that reminded me of what I saw in the movies. All the beach shacks, were decorated with lights that reflected off the ocean, and blasted dance music to lure travellers in to come party at their shack, not their neighbors. On the beach people played around, sat in circles smoking joints playing instruments, couples walked down the beach hand in hand soaking in the beach's romantic vibes, and I sat alone gazing at the moons reflection on the ocean. It was here that it really hit me that Goa seems to not be the place if you are a single traveller working hard at trying to stay sober. I knew this upon coming here but I only really had two main reasons for coming. To meet up with my friend Bernice and catchup, and to connect to Hampi.
Bernice knew I was arriving on the 1st and wanted to make my time here as short as possible. Right when I got off the train I emailed her telling her I was here. Her phone wasnt working so email was our only way to communicate. I didnt want to wait any longer so I bought my bus ticket to Hampi and it wasnt until the next day (my last day in Goa) that I heard from her. We are going to try and work something out but it doesnt look like it will happen.
One day I was walking to the post office to mail back my suit and I saw a sign that said VEGAN CAFE! A VEGAN CAFE!!!! WHAT!?!? IN INDIA?!?! Most indians do not even know what the word means let alone know how to cook without diary! So on my way back I stopped there for sure. It was obviously not owned by an indian local. There wasnt one indian there, except for the cooks and waiters. The place was crowded with new-aged hippes all all wacked out on bliss (or drugs as the case may be). Groups huddled in circles playing instruments, passing joints, discussing god, life and inner transformation. It all seems like a fasad (sp?) and made me uncomfortable. I ordered a raw vegan dessert, chocolate moouse. Raw means that it is only used with fresh ingredients, nothing artifical or cooked. The moouse was like a pudding. It was made with fresh dates, papaya, grapes, and loads of cocoa all mashed into a creamy pudding. It was to die for. After awhile of reading after eating, I felt out of place and left. On my way back I ended up talking to a young man selling wall hangings with different pictures on them. He was so hungry for business and I told him,
"Dude I have no money, I am a backpacker. I have been wearing the same outfit ever since I arrived in Goa 3 days ago, I bathe in the ocean, I have no money to spend."
"Well..Do you have any electronics you could sell or trade for store items?"
"Im sorry I dont want anything here and I need all my electronics"
"Anything...Anything you dont want or need we can trade ok?"
"ill see what I can do..."
I went back to my hotel and returned with items I was just going to throw away because it would just de dead weight. Shoes from the wedding, hair gel, and pants that I bought for the wedding but never wore because I bought the suit.
"Here...I know its a random mix, but I dont need any of it, I hope this helps"
"You dont want?"
"No I dont want, I want you to have BUT ONLY if it will help you. Will it help you?"
"What do you want for it?"
"I dont want anything, no money or items from your store.."
"I just want to help you. Will it help you?"
His eyes begin to tear as he looks down at the bag of items I just gave him. Then his eyes meet mine and he says,
"Yes, yes...Thank you. Thank you..."
My next stop is a place called Hampi and the crazy jam packed month of travelling begins!! I dont know how much time I will be able to devote to the blog but I will do my best.
Blessing and peace.