Left Udaipur with all the hopes of a stranded desert rat looking for green and found it in Goa, lots of it, and I'm not planning on seeing another desert anytime soon. Don't get me wrong, there's times when I'm something of a desert homeboy but nowadays I want jungles or mountains - after-all they're the flavor of the month.
During a brief stop-over in Bombay (that's right I'm bringing it back, because in the end Bombay sounds better than Mumbai), a city that wins my merits for being the smoggiest city that I can jive in, we ferried to and through the 3rd century Hindu caves of Elephanta Island, marched around the Gateway to India, marveled and solemnly approached the Taj Mahal Palace, huffed the smog of Chowpatti Beach (you can swim there, if you don't mind the 3 eyed fish), kicked it in Fort area and Colaba, observed the wooden wall shanty of the shittiest place I've ever had to sleep in, got lost with the 2 million people that use Victorian Terminus or VT or CST or Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (all the same place with varying degrees of difficulty in pronunciation), breathed the smog as giddy children threw dye on us for Holi, caught a Bollywood spectacle, wined and dined at India's best seafood restaurant - Trishna, gasped the smog while watching some impromptu cricket on the lawn before the near Gothic structures of the Bombay High Court and Rajabai Clock Tower, oh, and washed myself in the dirt that was the air I breathed in for a hot-humid - but wonderfully metropolitan experience. Bombay = best smoggiest city!
Believe it or not, with the price so high and the air so not clean, Misha and I hopped the bus and rode down to Goa. For those with not the opportunity to know this place, it's paradise. Close your eyes...but keep reading?...whisk yourself away in a dream fantasy with beautiful people or long haired ageing hippies, palm fringed beaches, white sand with lapping sea water from the mighty Arabian Sea, 80's in March, bills no more than 15 dollars a day - including food, housing, motorbike rental, drinks, etc., lush hillsides with friendly no hassle people - now open your eyes and know that most likely you have 1 more month of snow and no sign of a vacation. Sorry, needed to do that.
Goa, more specifically, Arambol Beach, is the first place in India that has me thinking about coming back. I'm not going to bore you with the beach bumming days filled with other things that would make you jealous, but I'll quickly elaborate on a few of the outings.
We took a motorcycle out for the 5 or so days we're here and have taken full advantage of it. One day we rode a little north of Arambol and ferried with the bike across to an even more quiet place where we parked at a beach, well known as Paradise Beach, oddly enough. There we cracked jokes with the local coconut cracker and let him crack a coconut for us, then dipped the straw in and drank coconut milk as we walked the idyllic beaches of...Paradise Beach...hmmmm, delicious. Even here I had the opportunity to be a hero. While sipping c-milk from our coconut I noticed a lone Goan riding his motorbike on the beach, something I thought unnecessarily disturbing to my Paradise experience, of course I found it a tad amusing when he stalled his bike and the tide came in. I watched for a minute as he helplessly dug his bike deeper into the sand, almost to make it out, then get smacked by the latest round of waves. I don't know what adrenaline came to me, perhaps the raw power of coconut milk, but I became inspired to help the man. I ran through the waves, to the poor Goan holding dearly to his bike, then lifted as he rev'd, lifted more as he rev'd, felt the wet sand smacking me in the legs as the rear wheel turned, then he was free - pretty much like saving a beached whale and it felt damn good to once again be known throughout this world as a hero. Misha thought so and that smiling biking Goan thought so too...coconut.
Went on a road trip to a small town named Chandor. It took 3 hours and I got a ticket for not wearing a helmet. I guess India does have laws. In my defense, one must wear a helmet only on highways in Goa it seems, and I don't have a helmet. Of course the officer started mentioning something of some other charge for not having an "international license"...hmmm what's that sir?...you say Rs 100 for not wearing the helmet and how much?...seriously why are you mumbling?... how many rupees?... Rs 2000!?!?!?....what sir?... me give you Rs 500 and you'll let it slide...oh so very kind. India doesn't require an "international license". That cop got a blackmailed pay raise. But, I breath better knowing that India in the end really doesn't seem to have any laws (joking, I don't want to curse myself). Moving passed this unfortunate case of power abuse, Chandor was hot-humid but crazily awesome. Misha picked this place because there are two ageing mansions that the owners love to give tours of. These once proud homes were owned by the wealthy Braganza and Fernandes families (very Indian sounding, give me a second), but now stand as a shells to a once rich past (pictures later). Lengthy descriptions aside, Misha and I thought that thinking of Dicken's, Great Expectations, or Billy Wilder's, Sunset Blvd, should put you so near what needs to be seen.
Quickly why the names above. Goa was and still holds a great deal of Portuguese influences, namely the architecture is something like Spanish Villa's with neon-pastel paint schemes with those red tile roofs, oh, and crosses...crosses everywhere. Goa is distinctly Christian, cows on the menu. Read about it if you want more.
So life is great. We've booked tickets to Kerala (farther south) in two days time and look forward to seeing it all, or seeing some of it. There's more to tell of Goa, and don't worry you'll hear it, but it's 9 pm and dinner is calling then the party, because it's a paradise out there and who doesn't want to party the night away on a beach with moon's shadowed palms.