17.11.2008 - 11.12.2008 32 °C
I escape Bombay*. After another panic of going to the wrong terminal, what is it with terminals and me? I finally get to the right one, my bumblebee taxi doing all sorts of crazy u-turns (it’s his fault as I told him I needed the international terminal). Check in, faff about trying to find a shop which sells sim cards, no luck, go through security and then realise there is no money exchange this side, so have to go back out through security, find the exchange place, and then repeat the whole procedure. I’m so glad I’m such a relaxed person now. I really have lost that London impatience, which is so apparent in the big smoke (that also might have something to do with not working for eleven months?).
As you can imagine the thought of returning home is on my mind, and I’m scared, very scared. I can't believe the year has gone so fast? I can't believe it's nearly December, and Ill be home in just over three weeks! Part of me is obviously very excited to see family and friends. I’ve missed them so much. But to be back in cold grey London, in the middle of this recession, Yuk.
I have a list from G about where to go to in Goa. It’s already occurred to me that his advice may not be exactly what I’m looking for (it includes boutique hotels and expensive clubs and bars). I’m a backpacker again after a few weeks of ‘flash packing’. I’ve already checked out all the other passengers on my IndiGo flight. It’s a quick 30min flight, instead of the 14-hour train ride, and there is a woman who is colourfully hippyish with nose stud and dreddy hair in a neat mess on the top of her head sitting just up from me. I pluck up courage to ask her advice on Goa. Thank GOD I do. She’s very sweet and invites me to join her in her pre-pay cab towards Arambol, which is where she says I should definitely start my Goan tour. We head off and she tells me of her love affair with Goa for the last six years. She’s Israeli and has been coming back to Goa every year for months on time. She speaks from the heart and while she does, I already know that I’m feeling the same way about India. The cab drops her off at her very own Portuguese villa (want one), we say goodbyes and then I head off to Arambol. I decide to follow the advice of a blog I read in Mumbai on the net, and as we enter Arambol I see a signpost for Gods Gift Guest house. I get shown a simple but comfortable room and decide to stay. It’s minutes from the beach and has a lovely restaurant over looking a palm tree forest. I chill out and then head down for some food. Sweet lassi and Goan fish curry with rice. So good, and so cheap! I’m quite tired after all this activity, so head to bed for a snooze before I go and explore. When I wake it’s dark. I realise that Gods Gift is lovely but also quite far from Arambol centre. Not great to be wandering around on a pitch-black beach on my own? Humm? I head to the nearest bar with fairy lights twinkling and meet two guys who are smoking a gigantic reefer, and looking through photographs on a camera. I’m slightly peckish and order a grilled cheese sandwich and a beer. We spend a hilarious night together, a Brit, an American and a Norwegian. When it’s time for me to go home, the Norwegian offers to escort me. There is a lot of stumbling around in the dark. It is so dark that we both nearly walk straight into a boat pulled up on to the sand. I wish I’d brought my trusty head torch. Gods Gift is too far away so I resolve to move into central Arambol the next day. I pack up in the morning. I check out, the sun is already baking (its only 10am), and head fully backpacked down the beach. I’m halfway when I realise I've left my mobile charging in the bathroom of my room. Back I go, huffing and puffing. Goa is damn hot! I move to Delwin's Ark, which I find accidentally just off the beach behind Relax Inn. It’s right in the hub, but hidden and quiet. I have my very bamboo beach hut with en-suite. Cold water, but I don’t care. Breakfast at Relax Inn, beach, maybe a spot of lunch? a lassi or fresh juice, the sunset, dinner, drinks, a smoke, bed. This is my life for the next three weeks! It’s so perfect. I meet a wonderful lady from Blighty who works the markets in Goa. One evening after far too many drinks, two on the house, a beach dog bites my hand (over zealous petting), and then I get walked home to my hut. But get to the door and have lost the key. So have to call C and she comes to the rescue. I stay at hers. She also has an apartment in Vagator that is a few beaches further south. I resolve to help C with her stall at Saturday’s Night market. Quite interestingly we’re selling Primark Underwear? I head off to the market around 4pm, wanting to hire a moped but chickening out and getting driven. I’ve been to the doctors in the morning with my dog bite, which isn’t bad. But my hand is in a bandage. The Saturday night market is brilliant fun, and goes on till nearly 2am. Marigetty a Greek woman has her kebab stall, so delicious chicken and feta kebabs for tea. There is so much cool stuff to buy at the market. I wish I didn’t have a budget. I do get myself a brown leather pair of Roman style sandals and a funny toilet bag. There is live music, great food, cool stuff to buy; it’s a really good night. I’ve been in Arambol for a week now so decide to move further south. For my next few weeks I move to Vagator (to be near to C too), into a mini house in the garden of Salt and Pepper guesthouse. All is fine until I make the mistake of eating a calamari curry on Baga beach. I get so ill I have to call the doctor to my room. I’m as sick as a dog; in fact I’m as sick as I was possibly in Colombia (at least I don’t have to trek for five hours). I get antibiotics and an avuredic meal plan, plain boiled rice and yogurt. This is my only sickness in India, pretty good going I think? Possibly due to my new found vegetarianism. There are so many power cuts in Goa; sometimes the power can be off for half a day. The restaurants obviously have freezers; these defrost, and then freeze again. That meat curry doesn’t sound so good now does it? Salt and Pepper are great and look after me like I’m part of the family. Vagator beach is very nice. Generally I’m to be found on the sun beds outside Shiva’s Place. After the calamari experience I opt for Shiva’s tuna, bean, tomato and red onion salad. Really good. Quite liking salt lassi’s now too. I do try half a bang lassi which I later regret somewhat. Thank god I only do half. There are plenty of crazies in Goa, but generally I have to say that is quite tame. Gone are the days of all night raves in Disco Valley. There are curfews in force, which mean all beach bars shut at 10pm. I do venture into 9bar, which stays open much later. But the psychedelic trance music means I don’t stay late. I manage a quick pizza and two beers but then am forced to head off (because I’m not off my head). I don’t fancy Baga much after the calamari curry experience. Plus I lack cash and heels. Going out just isn’t me in Goa. I like being tucked up in bed before 11pm every night. Did I mention that I officially smell like curry now too? I finished favourite deodorant (Pink Amplex), way back in South America somewhere. So have since been searching for a replacement that works as well. Difficult in so many different countries. Nivea ones seem to pop up everywhere in various guises. Crap, all of them. Then tried Rexona in Australia, which has been the best substitute so far. But that ran out in Saigon. Replaced with another Rexona. But different one, and crap again. So for a while now I’ve sort of gone sans deodorant?! Yuk? Or well don’t know really; just don’t seem to need one. Obviously I’m showering everyday and being on the beach so this negates the need of any body products apart from sun block. But I have noticed that I now have a distinct (but subtle) BO. This could be attributed to Indian food I fear? I quite like my smell. Is that wrong? It works especially well with my putain des palaces perfume. I meet a fake sunglasses salesman at one Saturday night market and kind of fall in love at first sight with him. He is so beautiful. He drives me around on his motorbike. I love being driven on Goan roads by bike. The wind on my face, my hair blowing free, the world going by in a whiz of colour, and the sun beating down on the dusty roads. I’m taken into Panjim to see Bollywood movies; we visit Old Goa and sneak in on a Catholic festival. I queue to see Saint Francis Xavier, and his non-decaying body. I’m almost not allowed in because I have a sleeveless vest on. It’s on view in an austere Catholic colonial church. I love the minimal interior. It’s very beautiful and somehow I understand this better than the opulence on show in so many church interiors. We sneak out as a large outdoor sermon has just started and squeeze through a gate to the safety of a market. Here there are sellers with trays of wax limbs; arms, legs and heads you can buy as donations to Saint Francis! We go to grab something to nibble, an onion and potato bhaji in a roll with tomatoes and a delicious sauce. Followed by Indian sweets, coloured bright orange and tasting of condensed milk and pistachio nuts. Then home as the sun goes down and we race under the burnt orange and pink sky with black palm tree jungle silhouetted against it, and the stars starting to twinkle in the midnight blue sky. We see a fluke night sky as the moon is full and Venus and Jupiter sit just above it either side. There is s smiley face in the sky looking down at us. I’m sad I don’t have my camera. So this is my life in the last few days of Esther’s Adventure. What and adventure I’ve had. Goa is the perfect place to end my adventure and I don’t really want to leave. In fact I come up with all sorts of hair brained schemes to stay. I’ve met such nice people. I wish I could stay. Shit this can’t be the end? This has been so much fun. It hasn’t been a very well updated blog. Sometimes two months out of date? But I’ve really loved doing it. I’ve much regretted not having my trusty Power book with me. So many crappy Internet cafes, so many dirty keyboards, so many slow connections. But the most annoying thing being, that I couldn’t type when I wanted. I’ve filled two notebooks, irreplaceable. I confer with them to check on content. Anyway I’d really like to know who reads my crap… please?? I seem to get a few hits on the page and have tried to set that Google thing which can apparently tell me who hits my page (i.e. its not just you mum, is it?) Can anyone tell me how to do it? I may continue to do a blog, not really sure how relevant to travel it will be? Although not entirely sure, that this blog was particularly travel concerned anyway? Travel has been the common thread in my blog… but I fear I’ve digressed somewhat on occasion.
OK I’ve dragged it out to one more instalment…
- In more ways than one, I’m super lucky to have missed the dreadful terrorist attack.
Hair Report: bushy on top from motorbike riding/racing.
Old Goa – The un-decayed body of Saint Francis Xavier at the Basilica of Bom Jesus.
All the pilgrims and Catholic girls.
The Delhi belly that renders me bed bound for two days.
Esther usually to be found at Shiva’s Place.
Bicep – Indian brother?
Elephant on then bed means you don’t have bad dreams.
Motorbike crash in front of us. Luckily no one is hurt.
Riding out of Anjuna after the flea market on Wednesday evening.
The Enfield. Justin’s Enfield.
Esta bien/ Justin time.
Justin who reminds me of Nick with a four-month beard.
Shark and chips.
Horse Power – Indian Red Bull.
Anklets without fasteners.
Esther in her Ali Baba trousers, anklets, chapels (flip flops), stripy fake Lacoste t-shirts. Esther SO happy it would make you sick.
The hot water bucket.
The Goan kiss I get on my leg – motorbike exhaust burn.
Listening to a Scottish woman sitting next to me on the beach and it taking me about half and hour to realise she’s Scottish. I actually couldn't understand her?!
Goa is an enchanted place.
The slippery water.
The gigantic ant infestation (they are ants, but 125% enlarged) One night they make off with half a Dairy Milk with almonds??
The well polished cockroach patrolling my bathroom shelf a night.
You cannot love without intuition – Graham Greene.