The Fleas in Gokarna

After spending the morning at Palolem we pack up and take a motor-rickshaw to Canacona train station, where we meet Edu and Isa. We buy our tickets and not too long after the 15:45 scheduled depatrure, the train departs and we’re on a packed passenger train en route to the next state South, Karnataka.

Ebru and I mission down the cars and eventually find a place to sit. The inside of the carriage reminds me of something out of the matrix. The dozens of black fans symmetrically mounted from the ceiling resemble the thrust pads on the outside of Morpheus’s Nebukadnezza.

After 2 hours journey we arrive at the small Gokarna train station. For 150INR we hire a minibus to cram us and our luggage in- and on-to and we journey the 11km of Gokarna road to reach the centre of Gokarna.

Gokarna is small quaint giving a cozy village feel, yet it looks old and delapidated, with plenty of sadhus and religious pilgrims walking the streets, painted, marked, robed or loin-clothed. There is a strong smell of rot and incense in the air, it reminds me a bit of Varanasi.

A few steps on a skinny, bearded old man whom we cannot understand, leads us to what is meant to be a decent guest house; by the looks of it it’s the most prestigious place in the town as it’s quite large, solid concrete and the walls are painted. They want 600INR per double room and this time Ebru and I go and chek them out. Dead cockroaches line the stair- and hall-ways. The rooms are musty and the bed matrasses look like swet-stained old straw sacks covered by a sheet of linen. Looking at it is enough to make you itch.

We move on along the beach front, up the hill road, hoping that something decent will await us on the other side. The baggage is heavy and we’re walking in flip flops so it’s not fun. The old man follows along despite our attempts to tell him politely that we’ll find our own way.

On the other side there is nothing, except for a building up the following hill which has rooms – equally shabby – but for 250INR a night. We deliberate for a moment and decide to move back to the town in hope of finding something there. The old man is still with us, babbling something incomprehensible. Eventually I recognize that he’s after a tip. Reluctantly, but in hope that it will make him go away, we give him about 10INR. He’s clearly not impressed. He follows us on.

As we start heading back to the town a rain cloud pulls up and we have barrely enough time to get our rain-coats on before we get drenched. Ebru is furious as expected and we’re losing distance on our friends. The old man has disappeared though! 🙂

Near town, we leave Ebru and Isa with the luggage under the shelter of a road-side shop-front and Edu and I go in search of accommodation. It doesn’t take much looking to find that it all seems to be of similar quality here, so we settle for the “Guest House” situated near the temple at the bottom of the main road. At least the mattrass-cushions look no older than 5 decades which is a positive.

Both the Spaniards and we have decided that Gokarna is no place for us and we will be leaving at first opportunity the following day!

We all have a modest meal at a small restaurant and after Edu departs to deal with his bowel troubles, the girls and I go to a small wine shop down the road to drink a beer before going to bed.

We manage to sleep. We wake the next morning at about 9AM. Our rucksacks are still sealed and ready to move, so we go to Eduardo and Isabel’s room to say a quick goodbye and good luck. All of us have awoken with itchy red marks on our bodies. Time to get out of here! We head back to the station to catch the 11AM train back to Canacona.

What a flea pit!


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