Last days of Anjuna

Sunday:
Super lame, sickest day, slept for most of it. Got up to do some internetting and whatnot but that’s about it.

Monday:
Last day of 32! Sandra couldn’t make it for Tuesday so I came up to spend the day in Arambol with her on Monday. We girled it up, swam in the ocean, ate prawn, went to the salon, played cards on her balcony. I was initially intending on going to a Contact Improv jam on the beach and staying at Sandra’s that night but I still wasn’t feeling well so we laid low having great discussions which was more enjoyable anyway.

Pramod, a fellow from Nepal who works where she’s staying, joined us for cards after they worked at getting our power back on. He ended up giving me a ride home on his bike because I was feeling pukey and we had to stop for a python crossing which was super cool. We got a little lost but managed to get me home where a party had been raging at the hotel since 10 that morning. It went for a total of 18+ hours!

Tuesday: First day of 33! Was on my own for the majority of the day, thankfully Steve called me up and brought me some Saatvic food to help my belly. We woke up “George” after his long night of chilling with the Dali Llama (don’t ask)

I heart Arambol

Thursday:
Woke up, ate, curled up in a hammock with Sandra reading. Went back to Lilliput for lunch and long discussions about everything. Decided it was time to check out Arambol after Sandra had heard from her friend Rico who was her travel mate and fellow fire performer earlier in her journey (according to random people that recognized her from YouTube, she’s quite famous in Bristol).

We were in for a treat, Hilight Tribe was playing and it was an incredible show! Amazing music, the mixed scent of incense and Kashmiri hash along with stunning fire performers and dancers. We fell in love with Arambol in a very short time :) After dinner, Sandra, Rico and I walked with our arms out and our heads tilted back on the beautiful long stretch of beach.

The way back was difficult though. Average price for a ride from Arambol to Anjuna is 450 on the street, 500 through a hotel. Since it was quite late, we were being asked for 1000, finally a driver said 700 and we considered it a late night tax and hopped in. He drove for a bit, stopped the car in the middle of nowhere and told us it was 700 EACH. Sandra and I were firm in our ‘hell no’ and I pointed out I’d spent 3 months in India in 4 different provinces and there was no such thing. We payed attention to all the road signs just in case he was taking us somewhere else and kept our phones handy. He ended up dropping us off in an abandoned market in the middle of the night in the dark about a 25 minute walk from home. Thanks again for cell phones which also do double duty as flash lights!

Got home safe and sound and even after the unfortunate ending to our evening, we were still in love with Arambol. Sandra decided to move there the next day :)

Friday:
Moving day! We went back to Arambol with Sandra’s things and got her set up in a hut on the beach for significantly less than what we were paying in Anjuna. Our driver was the opposite of the last and quite entertaining, apparently Swedish girls are the easiest and Canadians are hard to get. Also, the Russians are fine because they bring their own women but the Israeli’s have a thing for the local girls.

This place is hippie/performer/awesome heaven! We wandered around the Magic Park to meet up with Rico and check things out before he had to teach a workshop and Sandra and I shopped in the village. The village was kinda neat, we had people recognize us from hilltop the week before. Sandra was the performer and I was the girl who ran across to get the drummer drumming. Met a swiss girl, Jaqueline, who makes beautiful macrame and visited (I would run into her several more times after, she was lovely), we smelled different teas, battled with ladies with broken math. I met a Bengali girl who says my ear tattoo means something different in Bengali, sounds like it will be fun tracking down the meanings, that’s 3 now.

At sunset, everyone gathers on the beach. Everyone as in the large foreign community that continually shifts throughout the season in Arambol. People play their instruments, play with yoga and perform with props, or just sit in contemplative silence while the sun goes down.

Saturday:
Took things a bit easy on Saturday. Whatever the belly bug was that I had in Turkey was back and making me look 4 months pregnant, lazy with no appetite. I spent some time blogging and tweaking the dreads and went to a place called Tantra to drink Lassi’s and tea with Steve and Papi. Took a nap in the hammock and managed to drag my lethargic self to the Saturday Night market.

Many lovely things from everywhere! Even found a great shop run by some Calgary boys and bought a beautiful wrist cuff from a Spanish man who makes them himself. Ran into several people I knew; Jelena, Sparrow, Jaqueline, even the happiest man ever from last year. Feeling at home just in time to pack up and leave again!

More sun, more dancing

After Adam left, Sandra and I went back to the beach to try to find some better finger chips and relax with our books. We stopped at a beach bar and laid on chaises drinking mohitos which maybe wasn’t the greatest idea. We were being asked every 5 minutes for something and then ended up getting very expensive fake henna done. (fake because the stuff from Hampi is really just permanent marker ink) We’ve finally figured out not to give much leeway to the women, they are tricksy. Their math is broken, very guilt pressury, (promise my friend?) and they know this and know that if they bother you enough, you’ll pay to get them to leave you alone. The girls themselves are very sweet and interesting to talk to, the businessy end is just what they’ve been taught to do. We also giggled quite a bit when a housy remix of Christmas carols started playing. We certainly did not get very much reading done.

Went back and konked out for several hours, when I awoke, I had henna on my face and Shreta and Wayne had come by for a visit. There was a party at the guest house again. I can apparently sleep through anything when I need to. After a lovely visit they were on their way, shortly after, Wayne’s brothers Kurt and Krishna showed up for a visit and some dancing.  It was great to actually see their faces after 7 months of facebooking with them. Went back to sleep through the music again after they left. Seems to be a bit of my pattern, do a whole bunch of stuff for a few days, then lay low for a day to catch up physically and mentally.

Tuesday, was the first of several girls days which have been lovely. Went to the internet cafe and caught up on things for a couple hours. Back to the beach, this time Cafe Lilliput. We went to the upper balcony and had our first dose of actual Indian food. I missed you mushroom mutter! The scenery was lovely as well as the music, no messed up raucous tunes distracting the conversations. We’ve also taken to pinching eachother to return us to the moment, we both have busy brains and the tendancy to lose ourselves planning if we’re not careful. Walking down the street and pass a cow? Pinch. Sitting in the shade with the sea in front and a lovely breeze? Pinch.

Went back to our rooms to get ready for the evening. We had to test out Shiva Valley to ensure it would be an appropriate location for my birthday festivities the week after. It passed. We adopted ‘George’ who has been abandoned by his Israeli friends, and when we were crossing the rocks to get to the other side of the beach, we adopted Steve, an Oregonian who has been a good addition to the conversations. Once there, I managed to find Jelena and her brother and noticing that it was our first time really dancing together (not counting breakfast bowl dancing at BM in ’09) and that we had had to come to the other side of the planet to do it. The music was really good and I’m starting to learn to keep my eyes open when I dance because I keep losing my balance in the sand otherwise. Not even sure how I got in the habit of closing my eyes but I’ve been annoying myself with it since I noticed a while back. We didn’t shut down this party, it went until past midnight but when you’re expecting the night to end at 10:00 and you’ve been dancing hard with that in mind and it goes way longer, one can be pretty exhausted.

Wednesday was less exciting but no less enjoyable. We hung out with some cows and drank ginger tea. I moved back to the room with the hammock which was pleasing, trying to figure out if I’ll be able to fit one on my balcony… My dreads have started to completely fall apart, apparently my hair is too healthy. This is what I get for never dying it and rarely heat treating it. Papi was kind enough to share his experience and come over to start unhealthy-ing it so that they can start behaving better. I think they’ve gone from age 2 (not listening and running amok) to about age 4 (starting to figure out that mommy knows best but still tripping up the stairs). Soon they’ll be in the awkward, gawky years.

Went to the Wednesday market, almost overwhelming! Didn’t even know where to start and ended up mostly wandering around, noting how everything was what will be later sold in festival markets back home. Also inspiring us to create more. Instead of seeing something cool and thinking, I want that, we look and think, I can make that, but with a tweak here and an adjustment there and maybe a little… It will be interesting to see what I’ll be able to pull off by festival season :)

How come Goa looks like Alberta?!?

Slept about 4 hours. Even on the other side of the planet, my body still likes to wake up at 8. Apparently time zones have nothing to do with it. Wandered about the beach a bit a bit and found internets and met one of my neighbours who would become a constant companion. His name is ‘George’ from Iran. His name has been changed to protect his identity. He’s been living in India for about 5 years as a student and is currently partying his ass off until his arranged marriage takes place in a couple months. He’s a little afraid of his future wife that knows nothing but the studious boy he’s been portrayed as. I mentioned it’s highly likely she’s thinking the same thing and to just be open and honest from the start, he might be surprised. He’s pretty much the comedian of the place and occasionally introduces himself as ‘Insane from Iran’. You can tell he’s been here a while in that he adds where he’s from in the introduction as he knows the question will be asked within seconds anyway if he hadn’t already provided the answer.

Heard from Jelena, YAY! And Adam and Sandra, YAY! And made plans to meet at Shorebar and then check out the Saturday night market. I had no idea how to get there so ‘George’ offered to show me and we hung out with his friends until Jelena and her friends showed up. Later on Adam (after a brutal 16 hour bus ride from Bangalore!) and Sandra arrived so I had 3 much loved Albertan faces to keep me company, bliss! We sat and chatted until it was too late to go to the market, and continued to chat until Shorebar packed up and turned out the lights. Adam and Sandra made plans to join me in Anjuna the next day as they were both staying in boring Panjim.

Slept in finally and got Adam and Sandra settled at Sai Prasad and it was time for the beach!! We had some ‘finger chips’ (fries) and booze and then Adam and I ran across the beach like 5 year olds and jumped in the ocean. We thought we had avoided most of the rocks but I still scraped my ankle, at least stingy salt water is good for it. We danced around the water for a bit before drying off and heading back to do the lame but necessary things like laundry. What a difference in mid season! It’s ready the same day! No having to wait 3 days in monsoon with nothing every really drying and a musty smell that never goes away.

Then it was off to Hilltop, where I had gone dancing last April. Much more crowded, much more people to meet, and a lot of fun. I danced, Adam and Papi played with Poi, Sandra hooped. I played with both the poi and the hoop and managed to not injure myself or anyone around, but just barely. Law here means the music shuts down at 10:00. Or depending on who’s been paid off, sometime between 10 & 4. This time it was around 11:00 and then everybody’s left wondering what’s next. A fellow in the crowd happened to be a fire juggler. Another from South Korea, happened to have a drum. So a big semi circle developed around the drunken fire juggler with some serious skills and the crowd created a rhythm with the drums, clapping, someone had a shaker, another kinda beatboxed for a bit. Once the juggling was done, he joined up with another fellow and they played with fire staffs and did some crazy cool stuff. Afterward, there was a lull and I was all, ‘SANDRA GET IN THERE!’. I ran over to the drummer on the other side and his rubber arm was twisted to play more and then Sandra worked her hoop magic for a while. The crowd dispersed when the lights started going out and we hung out with a couple from Puna until security finally convinced us to leave. 2 nights with Adam and we shut it down both times :)

In the morning, we did a quick run to the market before Adam had to leave. Thankfully, we passed an elephant so he was all happy as he hadn’t seen one yet and he’s been in India since Jan. Somehow after that and him packing, there was still time for a beer but just barely. While we were sitting a young Russian fellow came back from the rocks gushing blood from his foot, I’ve never seen so much blood all at once in real life. He just kept saying ‘no problem’ while they finally convinced him to elevate it while I went for my first aid supplies. He got bandaged up with my antibiotic ointment from my dogbite in Turkey and sterile gauze (my first aid kit is very international with the random supplies I’ve picked up along the way). We tried to tell him to not go in the sand and keep it clean but he proceeded to get a tattoo right there and I saw him the with the same bandage the next day, and it was filthy. It’s that whole youthful invincibility thing I suppose, I just hope it doesn’t get infected. Somehow in the bloody chaos, Adam made it to the airport in time and after several delays and missed connections, made it to Kolkutta where he’ll be working until he returns to Canada in April.

Arrival in Goa

Last day of work before the trip started proved to be rather hectic, missed a lunch date and stayed a bit late and a doctor’s appointment ran way longer than expected. Managed to fit in a lovely Thai dinner with Karen and Malik though before getting to the airport. I arrived in Vancouver,  a little delayed, they kinda laughed because I was worried the delay would mean a sidetracked backpack, I’m too used to the paranoid 3 hour early arrival at airport mentality. I had a wonderful chat with the attendant at the ticket counter about Flamenco and India (she’s Indian and her daughter dances Flamenco with one of my instructors) and magically I was upgraded to business class for the longest leg of my flight, Vancouver to Taipei (thank you!). Lots of lovely legroom but I tend to sit in padmasana most of the time anyway and as I was reading about Thai monks (thank you Paul), it seemed appropriate.

Once in Taipei, I met a couple who live just north of Vancouver who have been traveling the world on a regular basis since the early 70’s as well as a man from Manchester who had been stuck at the airport for days due to multiple delayed flights. These were the faces that would keep me company for my brief stint in China. Being there made me wish I had more time so that I could visit my sister and her family who moved there in August last year but it was not in the cards and I’m fortunate that she will be returning for nearly 2 months in the summer. From there, I flew to New Delhi and OMG I’m in India!!!

Night and day difference from last year’s dumbstruck arrival. Mostly because that was night and this was day. And it’s a shiny new airport. And I knew what I was doing. Shared a cab to Karol Bagh neighbourhood with an Australian couple who was staying near the Major’s Den, where I was staying. It had the same trees out the window that I had at the Ashram and it was a little chilly *gasp* and the room was bigger than the flat I’m moving into when I return home. Basic, clean, cheap, and walking distance to what I might need like internets and water. I checked mail, made photocopies of my passport, and then dodged rickshaws, cows and motorbikes like I’d never left. Had an early night so that I would be ready for what the next day would bring. A 7:00am cab ride to the airport.

Once at the airport, I met some other Calgarian’s who were en-route to Varanassi for a wedding and we chatted until it was time to board our flights. Mine was delayed for 2 hours, no surprise, the fog was thick and as I’ve flown to Goa 3 times now, it was nothing new. I had no connecting flight so the only thing I had to worry about was my ride waiting for me on the other end. I tried to call but couldn’t get through and ended up with a phone number from the attendant that insisted I take it and call him if I ever return to India. My lily white skin is making me stand out a lot more than last time where I was darker than my touring friend Neena, who is Indian.

Finally got to Goa, grabbed my pack and my friend Papi was waiting with his ancient and much beloved Enfield named Edna that was just fixed that morning after a year and a half in hibernation. Riding 70km on the back of a motorbike with my pack was not as scary as it sounds but it did feel like I had ridden a camel by the time I got off. I keep having to insist that it’s not Edna, it’s me, as Papi is very sensitive about Edna’s feelings.

First stop was Ainsley’s bar, Shooters in Baga. Ainsley had recommended a place for me to stay so we left my pack and went to go check it out. Got there and the Psy was pumping and there were hammocks!! Done. Went back for my bag and some rum and once back at Sai Prasad, danced on the rooftop with my new neighbours. This is what I came for :)

Goodbye India, I’ll miss you!

I spent my last night in Palolem chillin’ at Cheeky Chappati’s with Parker and the girls and we then continued the evening on the balcony, chatting and sharing past and future travel experiences. After goodnights and goodbyes, it was off to bed as I had an early morning bus to take to Palolem. I was a bit jinxed because the lights went out about 10:00pm and did not go back on until… who knows, not while I was there. That meant packing at 6:00am with a headlamp before a shower and then it was time to wait out in the rain for the 8:00 bus. That came at 9:30. Fortunately the actual bus part of my adventure was relatively smooth. It did suck a bit having to keep my pack on my lap but my neighbour was good about it and we had a laugh about me trying not to let it fall on his head. I should mention it’s the fullest and heaviest my pack has EVER been, 22kg to be exact.

Once I arrived in Panjim, Papi picked me up and took me on a whirlwind tour of Old Goa, including seeing St. Francis Xavier’s body, the namesake of one of my high schools’. Turns out he was quite a douche and inititiated the Goa inquisition but somehow he is still revered anyways and they bring his corpse out every 4 years. From there we checked out a raging waterfall at a temple and then on to Valpoi, a small village of less than 8000 near where Papi and his family have small farms. It’s so beautiful, all kinds of greenery and birds and butterflies (apparently the Atlas butterfly roams here but can only be spotted in the early mornings) I kept trying to get shots of the ones I saw for Sophia but no luck. The most exciting discovery for me that caused much laughter between Papi and Ignacio (who helps on his sister’s farm) was the Mimosa plant. Not the one DMT is derived from but the one that responds to touch. I was running around like a 5 year old touching as many as I could, I didn’t even know there was such a thing and there I was surrounded by thousands upon thousands of them! Then I was given a lesson in Chai making which was surprisingly very similar to the process of making Turkish coffee. The rest of the evening was spent eating the dinner Ignacio’s wife made and burning coconut and bamboo wood with a leaf that helps keep the bugs away. Fortunately not the lighting bugs which were super cool and the sounds out there at night were amazing. Next day was much the same, recipe and cooking demonstrations from Papi, then eating and dish washing demonstrations by me. Also went for a long wander around all the farms and saw the progress of one they’ve recently started developing. The process involves a lot of hacking and burning and then letting the monsoon take over to compost everything down so that planting can happen.

Now the countdown is on, it was off to Bogmalo, a town near the airport. I had the best garlic shrimp of the whole trip at a restaurant beside my hotel. Papi, Guru (from Shooter’s in Calangute) and Raj came for some rum on the roof the first night and when the rains started again we watched some Russel Peter hilarity.
Second last day I went to Vasco to send a package, this time it was smooth like butter since I know what to expect and even had my passport photocopied in Palolem in preparation. I also took the opportunity to air out my stinky bag and contents and I forced Papi to sit through my 3000 pics while he stocked up my harddrive with music and videos. After some yummy streetfood, I went back to Bogmalo to sleep in preparation for my last day. I spent it sleeping in, reading as much as I could of the book I had to return, and finally and sadly, packing. I fell asleep listening to the waves crash for the last time outside my room.

The Pied Puppy Pipers of Palolem

After my Calangute goodbyes, I was dropped off in Palolem. I had been here in April and it was absolute madness and now it’s significantly less crowded and the majority of tourists here are foreigners from various places. I’m staying at the Seagull which is a step up from the place in Calangute, mostly because it’s on the second floor and isn’t as hot and moist as the floor level one in Calangute. There’s also a closer restaurant and internet cafe here but no wifi to be found. Electricity is a luxury as there are frequent blackouts (the longest lasting 7 hours so far, no wonder my rechargeable batteries can never get a decent charge!) and one day, I hope to learn what a hot shower feels like again, also would be nice to feel cleaner after the shower instead of before as the water leaves a sticky film on the skin. Thankfully, because it’s slightly cooler here, I don’t start melting within 2 minutes like in Calangute, it just means I have to keep my trusty headlamp within reach when it gets dark outside.

The first couple days I spent wandering about the town and the beach and saying hello to the much less terrified foreigners and finding kindred spirits among them. I’m now on the last of my borrowed books and desperately trying to finish ‘Empire of the Soul’ before I have to leave it behind along with the rest of India on Monday. It’s an excellent book and really puts things into perspective, I think it’s best read after experiencing the country first. I’ve also been putting together a bit of a yoga practice for the next couple weeks so I can ship the yoga books home on Friday along with various items including my rotting Merrel’s that I haven’t used since Hadrian’s Wall. Coconut oil is proving to be the duct tape of oils, not only does it keep the dreads at bay, it’s good on the skin and even helps hold off the mold growing on my leather shoes. The rain and wind are really starting to pick up, with only a few hours of rainlessness a day and my nights are spent listening to furniture being tossed around the balcony, pouring rain, and the sound of dogs running around between the roof and the ceiling trying to stay dry. The best purchase of late is an umbrella because my rain jacket is completely useless, I’m more wet on the inside as it also helps to hold in all the water that gets through. (Serious about the blackouts, 3 since I started writing, thankfully there’s a backup system in the cafe).

Now onto my companions. My neighbours are Alex and Melissa, two social workers from London (though Melissa is originally from Texas) on a yearlong sabbatical. They first wanted to work with kidlings then decided to take a break from kids and work with the animals. This is where the dog whisperer part comes in. On my first day, I thought it was the beer on my skirt that made the dogs walk so close behind me that their paws would be stepping on the back of my flip flops. It wasn’t the beer, they were hoping for the Tiger Biscuits that the girls have been feeding every dog in Palolem. Our trifecta has been spending quite a lot of time at Cheeky Chapati’s, enjoying great food and connect-4. The place is run by a lovely Brit family and they’ve ensured our entertainment by playing the likes of Bright Eyes and Modest Mouse and supplying bored games to keep us occupied during the rains (I spelt board that way on purpose). Our cohort of dog and calf followers always try to keep us company but alas, the dogs are easier to hide under the table than the cow babies. We also have enjoyed the company of a fellow burner, Parker, who we seem to run into regularly. He just survived the same belly anger that had Melissa and Alex laying low the first couple days I was here.
We decided to go on an adventure yesterday to change it up a bit.

Our goal was to see Inception in Margao. The day started with promise, the world was dry and our bellies full of goodness. Got on the bus with the tunes reminiscent of my dad’s Putumayo Presents collection and we started rolling along on the two hour journey to the city with the attendant whistling loudly to reverse and hollering like an auctioneer at the bazillion stops along the way. By the time we arrived, it was pouring heavily and we slowly made our way to the theatre only to find the only english movie was some stupid disney thing and the hindi movie looked fantastic but needed to be understood unlike the typical rom-com bollywood flicks. We decided no-go and continued to get drenched as we looked for a place to stop for chai. We stopped at a restaurant with plastic chairs and were inexplicably sent upstairs to the cushy fabric covered portion of the building where we guiltily sat our dripping selves down for tea. After drying off a tad, we braved it back on the streets checking out the market and doing some shopping, including the prize of the aforementioned umbrellas. On the way back, we had to line up at the bus stop with another gazillion umbrella toting people trying not to get stabbed in the eyes. After being told incorrectly which one to get on, we squeezed on before it rolled off, this time it was standing room only with a terrible bus driver that made us glad it wasn’t taking us the whole way as we were ready to hurl at any moment with motion sickness. Fortunately, I had a sweet local lady sitting near me that helped us figure out which junction to get off at and what was going on with the crazy dude that looked like a conductor that was waving me over with a toothless grin. ‘Oh he’s just mad’, as in mad hatter mad so I stayed put and she ensured I got her seat when she left. We ended our day with veg burgers at Cheeky Chappati’s and blisters and wet clothes but happy with our adventure and hopes of electricity for most of the night.

Now it’s my last day in Palolem, I’m catching up on my blogging duties and off to pick up a few things like a refill for the mosquito plug-in and some gifts to ship home before my last dinner at Cheeky Chappati’s with the girls tonight. At the crack of 8:00, I’m off to Margao in the morning where I’ll be heading to a farm for a couple days.

Flaming Tequila and Beer Showers

Just when I thought I might start getting bored with Calangute, I was walking to get water and next thing I know, I’m about to get run over by a car that’s headed straight for me and speeding up as it gets closer. At the last second, the car stops and the driver is pissing himself laughing at my expression of terror. Papi’s in town. We went to check out Arambol beach where a contingent of dogs and puppies followed us everywhere and I ended up almost losing a sandal when I stepped in the wrong spot and my whole foot sunk into the mud. From there, we checked out Mapca market where we got some fruit and I stocked up on band-aids from the chemist. Wet + Sand + Loads of walking = blisters upon blisters. Once back in Calangute, I got a call from the embassy saying my VISA for India had expired, when I had gotten my SIM card, they had scanned all my pertinent info so I was a little freaked out until Papi starts laughing and I find out it’s Wayne pulling a prank on me. Anyways, we all went to l’orange to watch their friend’s band play and meet up with a bunch of other friends and there were flaming tequila shots and Papi tried to convince me I was eating turtle eggs but they were really stuffed mushrooms and they were delicious so I wouldn’t have cared even if they had been turtle eggs.

After the chaos of visitors, I had more days to chill and get into the futball games and find I’m really starting to feel at home in Calangute with many familiar faces to chat with daily and having laughs while the tourist papparazi lines up to take photos with me. Sometimes it’s innocent, like the fellow asking ‘why not?’ the same way a 5 year old would when I said no to a smooch, sometimes it’s a little creepy when your neighbours are knocking on your door at 11:00 at night (I should add it’s pitch black here by 7:30) asking to ‘make friendship’ because they’re bored. I find it easier to respond by referring to a partner nearby that’s coming soon than trying to explain why my husband is on the other side of the planet and that I’m alone here.

I had a day trip to Panjim which was really cool, this is Papi’s town so I had a map with places to go and tour around. It was a lovely day, little rain, I would just walk, find a bench, stop and read, repeat. There was a beautiful garden I hung out at for a while and then I went to Kala Academy for some chai. It was so serene there, open concept with a lush lawn, a nice walk by the river and string music playing in the building. I enjoyed reminiscing the calm feeling from the Ashram in Bombay. I also walked around the town, checking out the older Portuguese homes and managing my way around piles of uniformed children on lunch break. Two little girls said hello and high-five’d each other when I responded, so sweet.

For my last day in Calangute, I made sure I went to all my haunts, visited and said goodbye to the familiar faces and ate all my favorite meals, including a late night dose of egg sandwich. The last week or so there have been many more foreigners in contrast to the complete lack of them my first week, most have been fairly closed people, wandering around with looks of fear and pretending not to see you. I decided to be adventurous and hang out with some of the foreigners who were hanging at a pub nearby who had invited me to join them several times as I went about my day. Turns out it was a 21st birthday party for one of the crew of a French Navy boat. I was very glad the seats were plastic when the celebrations turned into beer showers for everyone. At about 8:30 and drenched in beer, I wished them well and made the short journey home to dry out my clothes so that I could pack them the next day. It was definitely an entertaining way to end my time there!

Anyways, SPAIN ROCKS! Ciao for now! Tomorrow, the Palolem edition.

Return to India

Arrival:

Arrived in Mumbai at midnight, the end of an 8 hour flight, with a 7 hour layover of boringness as everything was shut. I got out for air and got in trouble from the armed security guards when I came back in so I found a corner to sit and wait until the security check would open at 4:00am with future attempts of escape thwarted. Once through, I found a place to read while the area started to fill up in anticipation of the early morning flights. At about 6:00am, the boards lit up and there were 10 flights scheduled to go within half an hour. With the rains and backup, my flight didn’t end up taking off until after it was expected in Goa. By the time I arrived I was so tired I could barely see, didn’t help that my ride shaved his head and grew a beard but I still manage to recognize him and we were off to Calangute. Once there, I was settled in to La Bamba, a guesthouse near the beach and Papi took me around to reaquaint myself with the town before he had to drive back to Vasco. After an evening of chatting with Vernon, the guesthouse owner, I crashed out until the next afternoon.

Daily Life:

A typical day for me involves sleeping until noon, going to eat at Infantaria, going to the Internet cafe, fending off taxi drivers, getting bitten by mosquitos, reading, watching tele until the power goes out, reading some more (I’m on my sixth book since I arrived 2 weeks ago), doing some lazy yoga, procrastinating on my blog, listening to tunes and catching up with people back home. A couple of nights I stayed out past dark, one night I met a Portuguese Canadian and we sat, drank wine, and he drank so much Fenni I keep thinking I should contact him and see if he’s still alive. Another night, Wayne and Shreta came down and we hung out at Shooter’s and chatted late into the night. Ainsley, who runs Shooter’s, has a new puppy named Shooter who likes to dance around and I freaked out Shreta making her believe that my dog bite scar came from Shooter’s mom. One day I made it Neomi’s, a highly recommended salon, where I had my hair trimmed for the first time since Feb 2009 and it was dried straight but within an hour, the curls were back. I’ll enjoy them while I have them! Another day there was a province wide strike so it was a unique experience to wander the streets with all the shops shut, it surprisingly didn’t feel as strange as I thought it would. Papi’s come to visit a couple times to bring me books and introduce me to friends and markets and somehow our rum-drawn discussions turn into in depth descriptions of Katana sword creation and his new machete named Meanster. What is it with boys and their fascination with stabby things? I’ve also been keeping tabs on the futball matches, especially since Spain has now made it to the finals for the first time ever!!! I keep meaning to bus it to Old Goa but I’ve just been too lazy to get up at a decent time, although I have made it to Infantaria for breakfast once!

People:

As it’s low season, the vast majority of the tourists are from other parts of India. It’s wierd walking on a beach whose population consists of 95% males and I usually get roped into being photographed with what turns into a lineup of tourists as if I were a big horned sheep in Banff or something, it’s pretty funny. When the locals see it happening they holler out the rate I should be charging. I’ve also been offered a paid part in a movie but I turned it down, seemed an odd job offer from the door of a white panel van. I’ve now been here long enough that I can tell the Goan’s from the rest of the crowd just by how they stand. Goan’s are most like the Canadian’s I’m used to, pretty chill and relaxed. There aren’t beggars here as this province is one of the wealthiest and has one of the highest rates of literacy in the country. When people ask you if you want a taxi or to purchase something, a simple no thank you and a smile is enough unlike other places I’ve been where any response is an invitation for ‘just one more question’. There’s the old man who shuffles along and wishes me good morning, no matter the time of day; there’s the boy at the Internet cafe who plays K’Naan for me when I come by and told me that when they played the song in the school, most of the kids were so moved that they cried; there’s the Rajesthani woman I met when she was trying to sell me jingle-jangle anklets on the beach and even though I didn’t purchase anything, grins a big hello when she sees me in town. There’s several others who’s aquaintance I’ve made that appear along my path most days that make my lazy days a little more interesting and make me feel like a veteran in this city of tourists.

Monsoon:

The monsoon is amazing. Definitely something that needs to be experienced, even if for a short while. A few downsides are seeing the drowned rats that make their appearance after a big rain, being picked apart by various scavengers, definitely gross. You also have to be careful to hang your clothes around so they don’t start to mold from the humidity. The constant weather changes are not agreeing with my head but so far I’ve only had one knock-me-on-my-butt migraine, though there’s some pain daily. Seeing a street go from dry to flooded in less than 10 minutes is fascinating, except the part where you end up having to wade through ankle deep water unexpectedly. It’s beautiful here though, everything is lush and green and my skin and hair are very happy. The best part for me though is the sound, from my room I can hear the waves crashing on the shore at any given moment and the sound that the rain makes when the sky opens up puts me to sleep.

Adventures with Momma – Week Four

Friday:

Went on a wifi hunt as I needed to get the flight info downloaded for our trip to Bath today. Went to the evil Starbucks, bought a drink, filled out their intrusive online form, then discovered you have to pay seperately for it and it wasn’t working anyway and the barista was kind enough to wink and nod us into the direction of the evil McDo’s where I managed to get sorted on the iPod without a form or password or any other such nonsense. Had our last lunch with Genevieve back at her flat, thanked her profusely, then took the train to the airport. Nothing too exciting to note there except for dozens of tiny princes and princesses coming from Eurodisney which was super cute. We arrived at our hotel, Hadrian’s Lodge, in the town of Wallsend, named for it’s location at the end of the last portion of Hadrian’s wall. Nice and quiet and only a few train stops from Newcastle which we explored a little. My mom thought there were a lot of prostitutes but they weren’t prostitutes, there’s just a large percentage of young ladies here who seem to have a unique concept of fashion.

Saturday:

Boo rain, rain and more rain with a large smattering of chilly. We went to the ruins of Segudenum, one of the more important forts along the wall and was the last one built. Most of it is long gone but they were able to mark out the original layout so it was neat to get a proper perspective of size and type and use of the structures they would have had there. In the museum they had a video depicting the area timelapsed over the last 2000 years which was pretty cool, seeing it built, taken down, built again, left to crumble, at one point there was even a parking lot on top of it. The museum itself is really aimed at kids and I could only imagine how much fun my niece and nephew would have had there. After our first proper Hadrian’s wall exploration, we went into Newcastle where there was a street fair where we found a fellow selling manchego and salchichón and he even gave us his last hunk of chorizo! Went on a hunt for information on the bus that crosses the wall with stops at the major sites along it. Took forever with stops at different info booths, train station and the library (where I printed my airline tickets for India too) we finally got what we were looking for and spent the evening at the hotel planning our route and eating baguette sandwiches of manchego cheese and salchichón. Oh and funny story, the hotel had the same pamphlet we had spent the day tracking down…

Sunday:

So we spent the last night planning our path with precision, but forgot about the train that takes us to the start and being a Sunday, wasn’t runnig nearly as often enough as we had been counting on. Fortunately we had scouted out the bus stop on the previous day’s adventure and we spotted the bus as it was about to depart, I booked it and stood in front of the bus and the driver was kind enough to stop and wait a minute until my mom could catch up. There is only one bus that leaves from here and only one that will bring us back, the on/off thing wasn’t as flexible as we’d hoped so we were only able to choose 2 stops to explore that would leave us with a connection to continue. Our first stop was Homesteads Fort, the most complete one along the remains of the wall. This one housed 1000 soldiers and was much larger than Segudenum and as it was out in the countryside with no modern construction nearby, you had a much better feel of what it must have been like. I also found it interesting to recognize the difference between these ruins and ones I had seen in more established roman cities. Here things were much rougher and morter was used for the stones, this was the frontier and there were no luxurious feats of roman architecture, this was built strictly for defense. Our next stop was Carlisle, the other end of the wall, we essentially crossed the country, albeit at it’s narrowest point of about 80 miles, it’s not as big of an adventure as it sounds. On this end there was nothing left of the wall but there it was a nice town to explore and we also checked out Carlisle castle where Mary Queen of Scot’s had been stored until Queen Elizabeth I chopped off her head. This was also where the prisoners from the failed war to put Bonnie Prince Charlie on the throne were hung for a couple minutes, then had their guts ripped open and burned in front of their eyes, then had their heads cut off. Lovely. We skipped the bus back and took the train which cut our return time by half and we were glad we did it the way we did instead of the original plan of a 4 day hike which would have killed the both of us, especially with the weather, we were lucky that it was decent for this one day.

Monday:

Woke up to the realization that Rasputin had been looping on my iPod the while time I was sleeping, I’m goin to boycott it for a while now. We packed up, ready for our next adventure. At breakfast we met a woman on her way to be interviewed for a story because she had been born in Queen Victoria’s bedroom and she was making the pilgrimage to her birthplace for the first time. At the train station, I got through to the airline to start the process of changing my route, I hope for confirmation later this week. My original plan was to end in Poland at a friends wedding but as my ‘date’ was pregnant and not able to go, I figured Amsterdam would be a better place to end my adventure. I’m trying to switch my flight and hoping it won’t cost too much more than having to fly to Poland just to catch a flight I no longer need. The train was for 5 hours today with no leg stretching stops but we arrived in Bath without dying. We made it to a lovely B&B, far from the chaos but within easy reach of everything we wanted. Prices were a little steeper here but it was the summer solstice and there were 30,000 at nearby Stonehenge that day. We walked to a great nearby pub and had a proper dose of fish & chips, as requested by my Pop. Also managed to polish off the book I started the day before. ‘Songs For The Butcher’s Daughter’, best book I’ve read on this journey so far and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday:

We were going to take the double decker tour bus today but got sick of waiting for it so instead we stuck our tongues out at it everytime we saw it in the future and took the regular public transport. We went and saw the Abbey which was stunning, as well as the 5000 hour quilting and illustration project a woman did after being inspired by the Abbey. Went to see the Roman Baths, a little disappointing as a lot of it was added on afterwards for tourists and I’ve now been spoiled by being able to see so many raw ruins in Turkey and Croatia. Still worth seeing though, a lot of history there. Then it was time for Stonehenge, it’s been on our list of things to do since forever. The last time I was in England it was still impossible to get closer than 5km so this was a treat to get within 20ft. There are ways to see inside but right now the private viewings are off the schedule until after all the solstice stuff dies down. During the solstice celebrations you can go right in but I wasn’t into squishing through that crowd with my poor mom. It was better than I imagined, the way the paths have been arranged, you can get an almost completely unobstructed 360 view. From Stonehenge, we visited the village of Lacock where some of the filming for Harry Potter took place. It’s an easy village to modify to be able to go back in time for filming. More exciting for the kids but still interesting. I should note to anyone who thinks India is smelly, they have never driven past a pig farm in the British countryside, smelliest smell I have ever smelled. Also, some of the vineyards in Bordeaux had a pretty vile stinkyness too, Marie and I would plug our noses as we drove by. After getting back to the hotel, my mom and I took advantage of the 300 long distance minutes I got as a bonus with my sim card and caught up with our nearest and dearest at home.

Wednesday:

My mom and I decided to start our last day with a walk to the city center along the river path. Once in town I found a couple books to take with me to India, not the ones I wanted but at least by the same author so I have high hopes. We took a public bus back to the hotel to get our luggage and took a cab to the train station. Took the train which turned out to be a total gong show. Some thieves had stolen copper from the cables wreaking havoc on the whole train system, entire quadrants of the country could not get through to London. Ours turned out to be the first one let through so we adopted passengers from the other trains that had been stopped. We decided to get off at Reading since we figures Paddington would be a nightmare by the time we got there and from Reading, took an airport bus to Heathrow where we took a hopper bus to the hotel. Were you counting? That’s 6 modes of transport in 6 hours! Back at the hotel, I passed off some stuff to my mom to take to Canada and went to sleep, I have tonsilitis at the moment and need as much sleep as I can get! I suspect my first couple days in India will be a write-off. As it’s my last full day in the UK, I would like to expound on how amazing everyone was to us, random people carrying my mom’s suitcase for her, people offering to help us find something when they saw us with a map, actually walking us to where we’re looking for, printing documents for us, I was pleasantly surprised and grateful, these were some of the most warm, helpful, and considerate strangers I’ve ever come across.

Thursday:

Woke up early to say goodbye to my momma and head to the airport. It was so fantastic to be able to travel with her like this even though I’m sure I drove her nuts half the time, we have different ways of doing things as we come from different villages :) but we managed to get to know eachother better and had a lot of fun. We managed to see everyone we’d hope to and more, gotta keep the expanding family tree connected! Got on the plane and took something to help me sleep, I completely lost about 3 hours of the 9 hour flight which was bonus. The plane was nice, my economy seat was more comfortable than the first class one on Iberia. The throat is surviving but I’m sure it will be terrible once I reach my final destination in another 6 hours. No liquids allowed in carry on at all so I had to pack my throat spray in my pack when I transfered terminals. Called my dad to let him know I had reached Bombay and he was on his way to pick up my mom in Edmonton. Next weeks blog: what to do during monsoon in Goa!