Sunday, January 08, 2006

Goa'n to Paradise?

Five hours of curvy roads in a hot Hindustan sedan, the shock of horns and humidity after Munnar, four hours of lay over for connecting trains that we used for "eating" the specialty thali lunches endemic to Mangalore (that's right, Mangalore not Bangalore) and 18 interesting hours of train travel north...and we finally made it!

Goa. Goa!! Goa???

Goa is the fabled state of India filled with pristine, palm-lined beaches and idllyic outdoor enclaves for yoga, raves or ayurvedic massage. We made a pilgrimmage here to experience any or all of the above, and are curious what we find since India continues to surprise, excite and sometimes repel at every turn.

Andy and I arrived in Goa last night, I felt ready to pull a "Pope" and kiss the ground. I'm not sure if it was the humid, sticky heat or the chaos of second-class AC train travel that is essentially a dormitory on wheels, or the carnival-barker style vendors that peddled "chai-chai-chai" and "chips-chips-chips"up an down the train aisles from Ernaukulam to Canacona, but I was migraine-central by the time we wobbled off the train.

An immitrex and chai sounded awesome for the last 6 hour leg of our train journey, and I conked out on a top, blue-vinyl birth that Andy sweetly borrowed for me from another passenger. We were assigned seats that are bunks at night and only seats by day, but for some reason, our section had eight people instead of the normal six. We lacked words, so I slept and Andy read "The World is Flat" with ear plugs in, feeling its fiction come to life as we see the engineers on the train with "Sun Java" and "Oracle" embroidered on black laptop backpacks.

I thought I was dreaming of Boulder when I heard "Chips-chips-chips", the call of Fast Eddie, the local hot dog guy who's very witty and has a thing for cat calling at the ladies who prefer tofu to mystery meat. But, I was not. This set of trains had a team of efficient food "wallahs" (workers who peddle things) and they raced through the narrow dormitory cars with giant metal thermoses of hot milk for tea, plastic buckets of chips and nuts, and then large coolers from which Andy bought a Coke that was advertised as "fun-fun-fun-Coca"!!! And they called their food with sing-song accuracy in English and whatever.

Alighting from the train, I felt woozy and then delirious when I felt cooler temperatures, saw the moon and stars in the sky, and heard only a lone horn honking in the distance. We were in Goa! Goa of the movies and Lonely Planet prose, Goa...destination of hippies and package-tour British travelers. We were definitely ready for Goa!

And this morning, when we woke up to sun and palm shade, it did not disappoint!!!

We're in a crescent-shaped cocoon of beach on the Arabian Sea, and fews cows and water buffalo roam the beach. There's little trash, and after breakfasting on coconut pancakes and fresh pineapple juice, we hit the water. It's SO warm -- warmer than most of our showers! Ah, Goa.

Goa has fewer "entpreneurs", as Andy nicely calls the people who pester you on the beach to buy sarongs or drums or beads, and there are tons of pasty-white Westerners that make us feel better about being in the and and surf.

Alas, we're probably not in the "real India" right now, but it's a nice change of pace from the hard travel to sacred places of the past few weeks.


Anonymous Mommy Moore said...

Oh my word! What a story! I can just feel you and your discomfort with your head, Tiffany. Yes, yes, yes to Andy for securing you a berth to lay down a little. What a guy!!!! How wonderful to disembark and find paradise--quiet, cooler temperature paradise!!! Stay and enjoy! Coconut pancakes sound so yummy!!! What is the sand like? Soft or coarse? What color?

11:21 PM  

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