20.3.12

Goa: Part IV.

When we first started planning our Goa trip, we zoomed in on one particular beach: Palolem. According to Mawii, it had white sands, wasn't too crowded, and was the perfect kind of beach for sunbathing and sea splashing and fresh juice drinking.

Aditya scoffed when I told him about Palolem.

"Sure, it's pretty," he said, "but that's it."

But pretty was all we were looking for really.

After our two days near Anjuna, we asked Jordan the best way to get to Palolem.

"Probably by taxi," he said. "It's right at the other end of the state; eighty to ninety kilometers away."

But taxis were too expensive, we told him.

"In that case there are local buses you can take. But it'll take you four to five hours, and you'll have to keep switching."

"That's fine," said Mawii, ignoring my look of disbelief.

We were due to leave on Monday morning. We packed our things and left our bags in Jordan's office, telling him we'd collect them after breakfast. Then we went in search of breakfast.

On the way there, a local man on a motorcycle passed us, and I think he started flirting with us, either that, or he was just trying to be nice - I can never tell the difference. But he was very cheerful and friendly, and not at all sleazy, so the conversation wasn't too bad.

"Where you from?" said the man. "Japan?"

I rolled my eyes at Mawii and resisted the urge to scream. I understand Mawii being mistaken for Japanese, but I never understand why people think I am. And it's not just Japanese either - when I was in Thailand, everyone kept talking to me in Thai, because they thought I was Thai, and one time I was walking back from college, and a bunch of school children in a bus started pelting me with paper, shouting, "CHINESE! CHINESE!"

"I'M BENGALI, YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!" I'd yelled after them, but the bus had passed by then, carrying them and their raucous laughter away.

Anyway, this man asked us whether we were from Japan, and Mawii said no, we were from Thailand.

"What are your names?" he said.

"No name," I said grumpily; it was hot, and I was hungry.

This amused him very much for some reason.

"No name? You have no name? You're No Name!"

"Yes," I said, "we're No Name."

"Looking good, girls, looking good," he said, before winking at us and driving away.

"Did you just thank him for that?" said Mawii.

It doesn't hurt to be polite.

We walked and walked and walked, and walked some more, and arrived at a cafe that we'd often passed, but never stepped foot into because they didn't sell beer. But we decided to give it a go - it was really pretty, and it had pancakes on the menu.

"We should have a big breakfast," I said to Mawii, "because we're not going to have time for lunch,"

I ordered a bowl of muesli with fruit and yoghurt, a plate of banana pancakes, and a chocolate shake. The man taking our order looked at me in disbelief, and I muttered something about how it was supposed to last me all day. Mawii stuck to a cheese omelette, but she followed it up with a bowl of fruit and ice cream which made me feel better about myself.







On the way back, we passed a couple of stalls where sarongs were being sold, and before I knew what was happening, a small, but determined lady grabbed me by the wrist and dragged me into her little shop, bullying me into buying a couple of sarongs.

Mawii, usually so good at haggling, found herself minus a earring by the time we came out.

"She just took it," said Mawii dazedly. "She just pointed to it and asked me to give it to her, and I didn't know what to do, so I just took it out and handed it over."

We went back to Orange House for the last time, thanked Jordan for everything, and heaving our bags over our shoulders, we headed towards the junction where we were told we'd get our bus. We passed Motorcycle Man on the way - "HELLO, NO NAME!" he yelled, and we waved merrily back.

"I'm glad we're going by bus," I told Mawii. "It'll be an adventure. I'll write about it on my blog. It's going to be awesome."

Twenty minutes later, we were sitting on the road, on top of our bags, the sun beating down on our heads and I was doing what I do best - whining.

"It's so hot. And the buses are so small and crowded. And it's going to take forever. It's so hot. Would a cab really be all that bad?"

Mawii, trying desperately, I'm sure, to stop herself from whacking me on the head, said, "Look, let's just take a bus halfway or something, and then if it's too much, we'll get a cab."

"Alright," I said grudgingly.

Sure enough the bus trundled towards us: a twisted lump of metallic hell. It was full of local women, who stared at us as we clambered on board, and naturally, there was no available seat. So we dumped our bags on the floor of the front of the bus, and solemnly sat on top of them, staring and being stared at, as it hooted its way through dusty lanes, occasionally coming to a screeching halt, to drop someone off in the middle of nowhere.

We switched buses a total of four times. It was fun at first, I won't deny it, and I wanted to take photos, but I didn't have the courage to take my camera out and start snapping away at people. The second bus we were on, comprised mostly school children going home, and it kept stopping to drop them off at random fields. By the time we were on the third and fourth buses, I paid attention to no one and nothing, I just gazed blankly out of the window, my chin on my chest, waiting and wishing for the nightmare to come to an end, while the man behind me chewed paan without restraint.

Eventually, eventually, after four and a half hours of my buttocks being jolted up and down, and my intestines being twisted into a life threatening mess, we reached Palolem. We were dropped off in the middle of a road, which was the main market road that led to the beach.

Mawii and I looked at each other and started limping down the road, towards the beach, hoping against hope that we would reach there and find a little hut miraculously waiting for us. But after only a few steps, a man asked us if we needed a place to stay. We said yes, Mawii haggled, and then he took us through a 'shortcut' - a little trail in the midst of a wooded area - and soon we found ourselves standing in the middle of a bunch of huts.

We settled into our hut - the Dubeys were to join us later, but they could get their own hut - and, having changed into our swimsuits, walked down to Palolem beach, which was only about twenty steps away.

We lay ourselves out on deck chairs, with a pint of beer in hand (fifty rupees only) and the sand was soft, so much softer than the sand at Anjuna, and it was white, and beyond it, the sea unfolded itself towards the horizon: a shimmering sheet of turquoise, calm and still.

"I'm not used to this much happiness," I said to Mawii.

 She understood, and we continued to sip our beers as the sun set into the sky.

3 comments:

Whippersnapper said...

Mawii went to Goa and had a cheese omelette? Isn't that what she has in the cafe here? For shame, I approve of your breakfast choice so much more.

trish. said...

Naomi, I appreciate what you're doing and I love you for it.

Anonymous said...

So, where's Part V? Get a move on...