Friendship to the Rescue!

We leave Benaulim with the intention of moving south to Palolem but expect more rain. We take the public bus to Margao, where we need to deposit 5000INR for the bike reservation into BulletWalla’s account at the HDSC bank branch we wave looked up on the HDSC web site. We get off at Margao and its pouring, then we walk (with our combined 50kg of baggage) for nearly an hour following map and compass. A bit of asking around reveals that there is no HDSC bank at stated address and we are pointed in exactly the opposite direction, to a shopping mall right where we got off the bus! “Incredible India!”

Ebru is about to blow a gasket – well past tense actually. What doesn’t help the situation is that in her Rough Guide to India the HDSC branch is correctly mapped. We sit down for a while under some shelter to “cool off” and watch a maimed and starved rat limp across the floor in search of nourishment – or maybe euthanasia. We walk back to point of arrival and I make the deposit.

We make our way to the best coffee shop in India, opposite the Margao bus station. Ebru storms in like a bull in a china shop and I am reluctant to follow. Firstly I don’t like air conditioning and secondly I would prefer to sit outside and smoke a cigarette. Little do I know the vibe of our trip is about to change.

I get talking to a young traveling duo from E’spain named Eduardo and Isa. He seems superbly chilled out and may-the-world-throw-at-me-what-it-will, while she is attractively studying her Lonely Planet or equivalent. We exchange a cigarette and talk about our Indian experiences – they have been on the road for a few days and have just survived an train and overnight sleeper bus from Mumbai and Aurangabad. They are in need of sleep. Now they are on route to the North of Goa, to Baga beach.

Ebru joins us outside for a while and after drying off for a while (the rain has abated) they get up to leave. A welcome surprise, Eduardo returns and asks if we would like to join them. I am overjoyed as I would love some company and I know that some traveling company would be just the recipe to diffuse Ebru’s frustration. Since we have no hope for good weather in the south and could really do with some good company, we accept! The bus is packed and the chilled out music the driver slaps on puts a smile on everyone’s face.

A couple of hours later we step off at Colva, a stone-throw from Baga, with two French travelers who were also on the bus. We all head the same direction, using our guides and a compass to find our bearings to the recommended accommodations in Tito’s Road. We book into Joachims for 400INR per room per night.

Baga is quite commercialized and the beach is crowded with Indian tourists. We spend a good night at a beach-front restaurant talking and drinking, as none of us has much of a stomach for food due to Delhi Belly.

We take a bus trip to Anjuna for a day with the Spaniards (the French beat us out of bed by miles). Anjuna has a pretty coast line with beach and rocks, but was otherwise pretty crap in most ways I could care to mention.

However we have a most splendid time on the next day, when we hire 3 motorbikes and take the small coastal roads towards the village of Arambol, about 40km north. Merely a few minutes after we set off it starts to rain heavily, which causes us to stop and find shelter in a most cozy and pleasant little bar/restaurants and we settle in for a nice fresh drink while we wait. This is not the only time we have to stop but it adds to the flavour of the day.

It’s chaotic Indian ride with sun, torrential rain, cows, buffalo and other obstacles in the road and it makes for a challenging but fun journey. Along the way we visit an out-of the way beach where we find full coconuts, which we skin and puncture with a swiss army knife and enjoy before we move on.

Our destination is Arambol, which is about 50km northwards and we get there in the early afternoon. We follow a steep sandy path between buildings down to the beach, park, and eventually after looking around, settle in at the first restaurant to on the left where our bikes are parked. The waiter brings over the catches of the day on a metal platter and we choose our food. While it’s prepared we go foe a quick swim in the sea.

We then have a most delicious meal of fresh seafood: fish and HUGE tiger prawns (8 for 400INR), my particular dish cooked in the traditional Tandoor clay oven with a marsala spice. Heavenly!

After food it’s time to return as we want to avoid riding in the dark. We almost manage this, with the last half hour being a mind-blowing dodge-fest in the dark narrow streets to Baga. Whew!

The rest of our time around these parts was spent mainly having good breakfast and dinner at a place called Nishan’s, where the waiter Regan took very good care of us and the time was filled with good conversation and plenty of rum/whisky and cokes in the night time.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *