My arrival to Goa happened in the magical train where I enjoyed so much a journey with the breathtaking jungle moving in slow motion along with waterfalls views and tunnels where people booed.
I went to take train tickets for other journeys and after I went straight away to Panjim or Panaji, heart of Goa and an old Portuguese city. It was already night and I couldn’t find accommodation. The reason: there was an International Film Festival going on and everything was full. Or super expensive. It wasn’t a good start but because this was not the first time this happened to me, I didn’t let it discourage me. So I kept going asking in every guest house in the area and eventually and by pure luck I found a guy with a cafe that had rooms upstairs. He accommodated to my budget and that was it. The room couldn’t be more basic but it was clean and although he told me he had the room booked for next day, a night what all I needed. With the festival on all I could do was going for a tour on town to get some food and check the atmosphere. It reminded me very much of Marbella or something of the like. Lots of luxury, casinos, party boats and lights were in the scene. But the most shocking part was the Portuguese legacy in the architecture and the ceramic tiles in the front of the houses, indicating the name of the family living there or the house. Names that happened to be not Indian, as you can guess. After that, with a tommy full of a delicious fish thali, I could go back and chill for the night.
Next morning I woke up with lots of purposes and the first one was to wander around Old Goa, so I took a local bus, one of those that look like they are going to fall into pieces and are ALWAYS full. The only difference this time is that some of them were decorated with Jesus motives and Christian stuff. Old Goa was surprisingly familiar. Churches everywhere, open markets with Portuguese music, Portuguese names in the shops and… Chorizo!!!!! Goan sausage they call it the people that don’t have a clue about this beauty. I felt I was somewhere else but India. Magical morning but I had to take a bus back to take my stuff and hit my next destination: Arambol, a hippie beach in Goa.
When I got back to Panjim to take my backpack I came across a tavern with some locals drinking inside. I found it quite funny at the same time than familiar and I felt the need of stopping to take a picture. I didn’t have time enough to take the first one when one of the men inside came out and asked me to take a picture of him with this bar. I couldn’t say no because I love when an Indian asks you to take a picture of him, just like that. So, I said jokingly that I would publish his picture with his tavern and made some publicity for the best tavern in Goa and he offered me to have a drink inside that I couldn’t refuse. I wanted to try something typical Goan and I got some Kayu with a soda. It seems that this alcoholic drink is made from cashew nuts, or at least that was my understanding. It was my first alcoholic drink in India which wasn’t beer and it was super nice, but I barely had lunch and when the guy offered a second drink I just had to refuse, afraid of getting drunk and also because I couldn’t stay as it was clear it would be impossible to find accommodation in the area. The man offered accommodation and dinner consisting of chorizos, as that was all I could talk about the whole day. What can I say, finding chorizo made my happy! And with that I had to start my journey to what would be my first beach in India.
I had a day and a half to enjoy in some beach in Goa and it had not been an easy decision to take, as there are many beaches in Goa. At the end I was between Anjuna which is known for the party or Arambol which was the beach the hippies were coming many years ago and some reminiscences are left. And although I wanted to see the party scene, I was alone and didn’t feel like partying (especially Trance parties), so two local buses in the afternoon and I arrived to Arambol.
This time there was no problem finding accommodation and I got to my hostel to chill. It was dark enough and I was quite tired, things could wait until next day. And the next day the beach was there, waiting for me. But because it was so hot, I decided to go for a walk and check on this babas that were living in the jungle. I heard many diverse opinions and it seemed to me stupid but I wanted to see it for myself, I was curious and willing to form my own opinion. After a bit of hiking and passing the “sweet lake”, I got to the first one, which was a Russian man almost naked with a few more Russians around in the camp. They offered tea, which I declined and I really couldn’t communicate much with them, but I got to find out that he had been living there for a month (although I thought it would be years only judging his tan).
I didn’t stay very long and went to look for the other Baba, which was said he was bullshit and would be rude and yelling and cursing most of the time. But on my way I came across another of these characters. This one was smocking hash all the time and a couple was hanging out with him. They were talking about energies and bullshit and smocking… I found out that the Baba was coming here every morning and leaving in the evening. Disappointing.
Finally, I got to the famous tree where this famous Baba is. He was in a very big circle formed by people sitting down, all of them Russians. They were there just hanging out, and I could see how impressed and excited there were just because they were with him. I didn’t understand a thing. They were also passing by some pineapple and they offered but didn’t feel right to take for some reason. I took the opportunity that one of the Russian girl asked for a picture with the Baba to take one myself and also to try to feel closer to somebody (preferably not the Russians, that didn’t seem that willing to chat to me). But everything felt weird and stupid, although I respect what they do and the way people could feel about this, so I left the place because I was ready to get some beach time!
Once in the beach, first things first: I needed to look for a place with some shadow. The sun was very strong and otherwise I felt I would burn and have a bad time. I ended up in a bar-restaurant, laying in a hammock and enjoying myself. Of course, it was almost compulsory to enjoy a beer…or two (660 ml each and not much alcohol lately, so I was quite happy). I think it is one of the first times I get to enjoy alcohol on my own, but it just felt right between short visits to the sea, where I made a friend!
Alone as I was, I enjoyed it very much and I also got to talk to an Indian guy that was in company of a girl from Mumbai much younger than him. I sat down with them for a while, chat and laughed and then, he invited me to some party. Apparently he was getting girls to dance in the party and he was also paying them for that. It didn’t sound right and I just made up an excuse.
Next thing I decided I couldn’t miss was the “drum circle”. I had heard that there was a drum circle during sunset and it was the thing not to miss, so I walked through the beach to find the Hare Krishna and the drum circle right after. I was quite curious and I saw how people were joining this circle, dancing in the middle like if they were under the effects of some drug. An hour and a half after, dark as it was, I thought I had enough of this and became bored, so packed my things and headed back to the hostel. I definitely felt I could stay in Arambol for a few days more because the beach was super nice and there was some nice music in the beach bars and all that, but I also felt the atmosphere was not for me and what I had seen was more than enough.
I only had one day of beach and next day I was finding myself packing once more to take 3 local buses and one train to arrive to Gokarna, where Nicolo and Elia were and my next beach destination, although I would spend most of the day travelling and only reach the beach at night. I got a bit delayed with the first bus and I got even more delayed taking the second one because I wanted to check a market next to the station where I would get some lassi and buy masala mix for tea. When I got the third bus I knew it was going to be difficult not to miss my train and when I got off, I found myself further from the railway station that what I initially thought I would be. I tried to get a rickshaw but the prices were not reasonable at all (maybe because I seemed desperate) and I started walking-running down the street with my two bags on my back, which could easily weight 15 or 20 kilos. Under the strong sun, I just thought I would be able to find a tuk-tuk a bit further from the station that didn’t want to rip me off. Unluckily, there was none and I started hitch-hiking at the same time than running. Two motorbikes stopped to offer me a ride for the same price than the tuk-tuks before. Damn it! I refused and kept going running, but I only had 20 minutes to make it to the station, which was more than 3 kilometres far. A good man stopped with his motorbike and got to ride me to the station. Finally!! I knew there were good people out there. And so I arrived there with 5 minutes left to find out where the hell my train was. There were 3 platforms in the station and each of them had a train. Difficult business to see which one was my train because there were no signs anywhere. I kept running and asked an official, who indicated my platform (I had to cross back, damn it!) and told me I was ok for time and not to rush. But I was completely frenetic and couldn’t be happy until I was in my train. On my way, I came across an Indian guy who told me the very same than the official. He was taking the same train than me and asked which coach I was in. I happened to be in the same than him and he indicated me which way it was. Great. I kept running to get in as soon as possible, the train was scheduled to depart in only one minute and all I wanted was to be in, leave my bags and sit down to breath and swipe my sweat.