I quietly sneak around the room in the morning, packing up the last of my belongings and trying not to wake anyone. I feel a bit bad that I won’t say a proper goodbye, but I really hate goodbyes anyway so this is better.
In the morning Ilona is feeling a little better and feels up to eating which is a miracle because she hasn’t eaten much in the last few days, so I go on a mission into the streets of Goa to find her some breakfast. She requested a muffin and I know that is going to be next to impossible but I try. I stumble upon a cafe about half a kilometre down from our hostel after being called over by every single shop keeper on the street. I am basically the only person walking around because not many people are up early in Goa, I guess it’s due to the beachy vacation vibe.
As I approach the cafe I see a muffin in the display case and am so happy to have found something Ilona can eat. I bring it back to the hostel along with two fruit smoothies (one for me of course). The muffin is awful, but she eats it anyway. She has taken a hot shower while I’ve been away (hot shower is an extremely rare treat for us backpackers) and feels much more refreshed and healthy. We go hang out by the pool for a bit, then she decides that she has the energy to go to the beach ! On the way we stop for water and I grab a Bacardi Breezer for the sand. Two liters of water and a cooler cost 80 rupees ($1.50), basically free. The best thing ever.
We make it down there and find a quiet spot on the beach where we won’t be bothered by too many people. I don’t know who I thought I was kidding when I thought we would be left alone on our beach visit. I think being on a more quiet patch almost drew more attention to us because our white skin was much more obviously seen with no people to shade us. Who knows, but we had numerous people approach us and ask if they could take a picture of us, with us, of them, or wanted to know our names etc. I will never understand the concept of wanting to take a picture with me when people don’t even know me. And even more confusing are the people who want me to take a picture of them. On MY camera. Why? I have to say though, I do prefer when they ask if they can have a photo, as opposed to them just getting close to my face and sticking a camera in it without my permission.
I decide to go for a quick swim in the Arabian Sea. I would explain why, but does it really need an explanation? It’s the Arabian Sea.
I go in alone while Ilona sits with our things on the beach and continues to be approached by Indian men wanting to talk to her. Thinking I have escaped them, I start walking into the waves. The waves are strong and the sand beneath my feet is sinking, so when I turn around to see if find Ilona on the beach I realize I’ve been guided very left by the sea. I start slowly walking back towards my original entry point, just enjoying the water and the view. As I am walking, still quite far out from the shore, two young Indian boys of about 15 are getting too close to me, walking towards me and staring at me. I politely ask them to keep their distance from me, and they put up their hands like I’m being ridiculous. I continue walking, at the same time trying to get away from them and back to the shore. Ten seconds later when a big wave comes rolling in, I turn around to see one of them right beside me, who reaches out to grab my bathing suit top. Needless to say, I lose my mind. I start screaming at the kids telling them to get away from me, I think I call them gross, I swear at them. I am probably a little harsh, but not really because that’s totally nasty, in every culture. Land or sea, there is no escape.
It does become pretty emotionally taxing to always be on your a-game about everything. There are ALWAYS people who are always trying to rip you off, steal your things, who want to “help” you find something, grope you. It’s exhausting, and I finally snapped. Ilona got a picture of me telling them off, which after I calm down, is maybe a little funny.
The upside to the constant trickery here, is that I’ve gotten pretty good at bargaining and knowing how much I am willing to pay for something. I don’t feel bad about telling someone they are asking too much, where as before I felt like I might insult them.
After that little incident we leave, because I am ready to punch the next person who approaches me. We stick to the backyard pool where there are no leering young boys to bother us.
Goa is beginning to get on my nerves, as it’s humid weather and sandy beaches don’t quite allow for me to cover up the way one should when traveling through India. It’s hard to complain when the scenery is so beautiful, but I am in too adventurous a mood to lay on a beach all day. There is also less culture here than in Delhi or Jaipur, so I look forward to getting back to that bustling city on Sunday to do some more exploring.
I forgot to mention what I did for dinner in my last post, and for the first time in a long time it was actually note worthy!
On my way home from the beach I found a hotel that I had read about in Lonely Planet called Johnny’s Hotel. Lonely Planet described it as a very cheap but clean place to stay with a restaurant attached so I figured I’d try it out. I was the only person in the restaurant, which made me skeptical, but I was hungry and didn’t care. I ordered butter chicken and cheese garlic naan (interested in how that works). The butter chicken was delightful. I think I was probably more impressed with it than I should have been, but after a drought of good Indian food which I have been trying hard to find, it was like a breath of fresh air. The cheese garlic naan however, had no cheese. I do not comprehend why so many menus here cannot offer what is listed on their menu, but I’m not mad about it because it still came with garlic and let’s be real, that’s the only important part.
We wake up and leave that godforsaken place with the scary noises as soon as we can. We walk down the road to the new, more quaint and affordable hotel. We make plans to go for breakfast and then to hit up the beach but during our meal it seems that Ilona’s health has taken another turn for the worse and she won’t be able to make it to the beach. I go out into Baga on my own, where there is no sight seeing to do like there was in Jaipur, only a beach. Along with the beach come the classic beach shops including tattoo parlours, and rickety huts selling very cheap swimwear, floaties, and bongs with pictures of Bob Marley on them (yes even in India).
I walk through the beachy-market area to the main beach along the coast of the Arabian Sea where there are just a TON of people. I don’t go in the water because frankly the crowds are too big and I don’t want to leave my things on the beach unattended. I walk along the beach and around the bars and restaurants in the area and at least get a feel for where our hotel is in relation to the water. It’s very close, only about a 2 minute walk, which is nice. I come back to see how Ilona is doing (and for lack of anything else to do but laze around on the shore) but she still isn’t feeling well, so instead of walking all the way back to the beach I decide to hop in the cute little pool outside our room and then read up on things to do during the next portion of our trip when we go to Thailand. All the while i am laying in the sun, surrounded by beautiful trees and flowers, coconuts and dragonflies. It’s not a bad day considering the circumstances. Ilona hopes to feel well enough by the evening so that we can walk over to the beach and watch the sunset.
Unfortunately she’s too sick and needs more rest so I decide to go alone. It’s a very busy beach filled with lots of screaming children, wild dogs, and even cows but with the pink and orange sunset sky ahead of me, I don’t care about anything else on this beach.
I walk up and down along the shore with my feet in the water thinking about nothing but how happy I am to be there in that moment. Until some man comes right up to me and takes a picture of my face. That sort of ruins it.
When I am done walking along the shore I find a place to sit where I can admire the sunset head on. While I am sitting there two Indian guys sit directly behind me. At first I don’t notice or care until they start talking to me, and I think I am in for another close up picture of my face when I turn around to answer them, but it turns out that they are just genuinely friendly people. They ask me why I am alone (in a non-creepy way, though I assumed it was creepy at first) and I explain about Ilona being sick but that I really wanted to come see the sunset anyway. We chat for a while and I find out that one of the guys is a Bollywood soap star in Mumbai. How cool! I ask him to write down the name of his show so I can watch it on YouTube. I didn’t have time to go to Mumbai this time, so this can count towards me seeing a Bollywood show.
They invite me to a party in Panaji (the capital of Goa, about 1 hour away) and say I can bring my friend with me if she is feeling better. I know that even if she were to feel better she won’t be well enough to be up to going out to a party, and my mama taught me better than to go to something like that alone, so I stay home and write instead.
I’m so fun.
I am skeptical about this guy’s status as “Bollywood actor”, but as soon as I creep his Facebook page, I find out it’s legit and regret not going to the party. Still the wise choice though, I know.