The fourth day – 21st Feb 2012.
It’s almost 10pm and I’m writing this entry whilst swinging around in a hammock in the garden of my guesthouse.
Very little in the way of sleeping was done last night. I’d forgotten how loud India can be, even sleepy little towns like Patnem. Between an old drunk coughing his lungs out, the beach dogs partaking in an extended communal midnight howl and the monkeys in an all-night bid to outdo each other, I was fortunate to catch more than 20 minutes sleep. Luckily, early mornings continue to be my favourite part of the day. They are cool and peaceful and the only company tends to be water buffalos and elderly chai wallahs. I walked through the fields and into Chaudi, stopping along the way for a ludicrous number of chais. Covered in dust, sitting on an up-turned bucket, drinking chai out of a grotty glass as the sun rose over the Western Ghats I doubt I could’ve been much happier.
After yet more chai in Chaudi, I hired myself an Enfield. I’d held so many romantic notions involving touring India by Enfield, I hoped so much the reality would live up to my day-dreams. Having only previously driven a scooter I was a little skittish about coping with complications such as gears and extra weight to balance. I braved the main road and took my chances driving into Palolem. Thankfully I made it without crashing or being knocked off into the deep (rubbish/dead animal/shit filled) ditches lining the road. I arrived in Palolem as the shop keepers were busy preparing themselves for the day. A little bit of joy settled in me seeing them ‘clean’ their patch of street with glasses of water and old fashioned brooms; another thing that had escaped my memories! From Palolem I took myself off for a morning of random drives. I stopped into Oceanic for a quick splash in their pool then headed north up the coast. At Agonda I took to the sea and fuelled up on chai. In Rajbag I did the same.
Back in Patnem I spent the afternoon lying under sunbeams on the beach. The police arrived mid-afternoon to play a pantomime for some boys from a beach shack. I believe it had something to do with a lost i-phone. Apparently a tourist had handed it in to staff at the shack, who were now, somewhat obviously, denying all knowledge. The police arrived, took a bribe from the shack owner, displayed some half-hearted concern and shouted a bit (presumably to make the whole farce more authentic) before leaving the scene. Cue numerous halfwit tourists shouting the odds about corruption. As if the theft of a mobile phone is in any way comparable to what droves of Indians suffer at the hands of a corrupt system.
I watched a really pretty sunset before wandering back down the main road to Sam’s house. We relaxed on her balcony for an hour or so before going into Palolem in search of nourishment. After dinner, a few Maazas and obligatory shisha I set off home. Before I made it to my room, the boys from the restaurant convinced me to join them for a chai. This I did and it was lovely. Masala chai whilst sitting in a hammock swing! The problem is this, I’ve been trapped in my hammock for the past 20 minutes while the waiters have relentlessly tried to convince me into a large coconut fenni! I seem to remember drinking fenni on my last visit to Goa. I don’t think it ended well. On this occasion I will be sensible and I will, for once, learn from the error of my ways.
The fifth day – 22nd Feb 2012.
I think this day was sent to remind me that, no matter how comfortable I may feel, I am still in India. I woke up at around 4.30am to a hideous noise. It sounded like a cross between an elephant and screaming. On further investigation I discovered a cow giving birth about 2 yards from my doorstep. It made for a few hours of horrific viewing/wincing/wretching. By 6am a farmer had appeared to collect the cow and her calf. I’m not entirely sure how he knew where to find them?! The chances of falling back asleep were slim so I decided to drive into Chaudi for some early morning chai. On the way I passed a young boy, foaming at the mouth and convulsing whilst being held in the arms of his friend. As ever in India, a huge crowd had gathered to watch and waggle their heads. The whole scene painted a pretty horrendous picture.
After a few chais in Chaudi, I drove to the South end of Patnem beach and had breakfast at the last shack before the cliffs, at the entrance to Rajbaj beach. At just after 8am I was roasting. India is so hot just now. The transition between Scottish winter and India’s rising temperatures hasn’t quite been as easy as I expected!
I popped next door to Rajbaj beach for some peaceful sunbathing. In walking from my towel to the sea, a sizable raven flew straight in to the side of my head! It stunned me a little and crippled me with a giggle fit. I lay on the beach until the combination of salt water and sunbeams proved too much for my skin. The afternoon was spent at Oceanic over lunch, a swim and yet more chai. Having given myself a fair baking in the sun I rode home with my mind firmly fixed on a shower and lying under the fan but alas, this is India. It seems there is no power and no water! “A substantial power cut Madam”. What wonderful news!
So here I am, writing this from the beach. I have a plate of paneer pakoda and a maaza. Chai is on the way. The sun is setting and the sky is turning a beautiful shade of red… as is my skin!
The sixth day – 23rd Feb 2012.
10am – This morning I was up super early so walked along the beach via Colomb Bay to Neptune Point. I had breakfast whilst watching the sunrise over Palolem and the beach coming to life. Within my sights were 100 tourists doing their hippie yoga bit, an old naked man and a young Russian girl, dressed in full highland get up, practicing the sword dance. Her swords, of course, had been drawn in the sand.
No sooner had I demolished my breakfast than Sam called… inviting me out for breakfast! So, I’m writing this from the chill-out area at ‘Home’ (Beach shack restaurant in Patnem). I can see Sam walking along the shore, all blonde curls and smiles, chaperoned by about a dozen beach dogs.
10pm – Sam and I had a lovely day together lazing on the beach and visiting the ‘Home’ chill-out whenever we required a break from the sun. In the evening we relaxed on her balcony, rocking away to the sound of the monkeys. For dinner we drove into Palolem and joined Bubbly at the Nest. Since then I’ve arrived home and packed/organised myself for tomorrow.
I’m Hampi bound early tomorrow morning and I’m so excited to return!