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Goa, India

INDIA | Saturday, 14 April 2012 | Views [546]

I almost bypassed Goa after hearing about how crowded it was and how you get so pestered by beach vendors.  I guess going at the end of the season (beginning of April) is the way  to go then, because - while hot - the beach is breezy, beautiful, and not at all crowded! The vendors are annoying, but you can get some good buys if you visit their litttle makeshift stores; some of them are packing up to leave and are willing to sell anything for 100-150 rupees ($2-$3). 

So anyway, I caught an overnight bus from Hampi to Goa.  Since I wasn't sure where to get off,  I opted for the last stop in Mapsa which put me arriving after sunrise.  Once in Mapsa, I  had some chai at a cafe at the bus terminal and contemplated my next destination.  I opted for Vagator and hopped on a bus going that way.  I was dropped off on the side of the road and  just started walking in the direction of the beach.  I found a great place to stay, unloaded my stuff and headed to the beach.  It was very pretty with cliffs and rocky views;  it was also laid back though the vendors on the beach were a constant companion or irritation, however you want to look at it.  I ended up agreeing to a pedicure and a "threading" - this was actually quite nice to lounge on the beach and have this done,  and they did a wonderful job. Threading is the process of plucking the hair off your legs (or wherever) using a simple thread.  It works and isn't even painful!

 I started relaxing in Vagator.  I have found India very stressful for the most part - so much noise, pollution, trash, animal welfare issues, so many people wanting money from me-either begging or wanting me to buy something; it can be exhausting, overwhelming.  I've learned to step over the trash (though I refuse to litter), and I make a motion of empty pockets to beggars more often than not (after I've given away as much as I can afford, and sometimes because I think they're professional beggars, and I never give money to children) and after awhile it's easy to ignore pleas to "just take a look at my shop".  I just walk on.  That's the downside of India, of course, - the upside, the thing that makes me keep wanting to love India is on a deeper level, though perhaps even on the same side of the coin - I appreciate the rawness of humanity  here, and the spiritual side which is so prevalent in everything. 

I stayed at Vagator Beach for a few days then headed down to Anguna Beach, maybe 20 minutes south.  There was a lot more going on at this beach, very good vibe with trance/chill music galore. I liked that beach even more and stayed for another 4 days.  I had a great room there, but the morning that I left I discovered a scorpion sitting on the toilet tissue when I reached back to grab it.  I'm not sure who was more startled, me or the scorpion.  I jumped up and the scorpion made its way back into the rocks of the wall with its tail up in the air.  Up until this point, I've been reaching very casually into my pack, feeling around for sometime, throwing on clothes without really looking at them, stumbling in the dark to the bathroom...but no more! I was sufficiently traumatized by that to be a little more aware of what might be lurking in some of these places.  I was especially horrified at the thought that perhaps the scorpion crawled into my pack or onto my clothing while I was wandering through the desert landscape of Hampi and then crawled out at some point during the night or day.  In any case, I wasn't spending another night in that room. So I made  my way further south to Palolem Beach, which I like even better than the other two beaches.  I am glad to be here at the end of the season; the crowds have thinned, it's hot but breezy at the beach and the huts on the beach are available and affordable.  I'm writing this from the beach, during an open mike at  one  of the many bar/restaurants in the sand.  My room is a hut overlooking the sea; the waves sound like they're right outside my door.  I was going to stay here for 3 days; and I have, but I'm liking it so much I think I'll stay another 3 days.  I bought a plane ticket to Delhi that leaves Goa on the 17th of April, so I have made a deadline for myself.  My next destination is Rishikesh, a shortish bus ride from Delhi.  


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