South Goa

August 14th, 2004

Sunday we headed down to the southern tip of goa to Palolem. It's about 100 km via taxi, taking about 2 hours. I really enjoyed this drive for the variety of things we saw, ranging from cities to tiny villages where swarming locals and large bulls impede traffic to rivers and bridges to lush jungles with large billboards. I especially found the billboards interesting, since they are written in english but often would be funny if found in the US. See if you find this example interesting:

Our driver knew a few places to stay in palolem, the first spot he took us to was the huts on the beach. They were decent, but pricey (400 rs/night). The next place was better, we each got our own room with a private bathroom and toilet for only 150 rs/night ($3 USD). The rooms could easily fit a couple, but none had 2 beds so we each got our own room. After checking in, we walked around the very small town and ended up kicking it on the beach with a beer.

Later that night we enjoyed a tasty dinner at the dolphin cafe, then walked 30 feet down to the zig-zag cafe to have some beers. I would say there were about 10 or so cafes in our area near the beach, most of which will serve beer as long as people are drinking. We met a few folks at the zig zag and stayed there till about 1 or 2am, even though they were supposed to close by 11. After that we went to the beach and kept talking (there were like 6 or 7 of us), finally going to bed around 4. Ahhh, vacation is great. I got up around 11, walked around, met up with fritz, had some breakfast and went to the beach. Mike, the 3rd dude in our party, didn't come out of his room till after 1. During this time i walked the beach, watched locals pull in a fishing net, and enjoyed a vigorous 30 minute swim under the crashing ocean waves.

After mike finished breakfast around 2pm, we all rented scooters and rode around town. We kinda just roamed around, saw many village people herding cows, bulls, goats, saw school kids coming home, rice patties, a temple, and eventually came across the intercontinetal resort. It was huge. The grounds were laid out with the hotel and cottages in the middle surrounded by a golf course, a few hundred meters from its own privat beach. The sand on that beach was great, making it just as good or better than our palolem beach. They trimmed some bushes by a pond to look like elephants, which i thought was cute. Then we enjoyed a really nice meal in the resort for about 1600 rs, or $40 usd, for all three of us. Something similar in the US would have been 2 or 5 times as expensive. After dinner we hopped back on our bikes and headed home. We didn't really watch the time, and it was getting dark on us, which sucked since we weren't exactly sure where to go (there are very few street signs) and mike's scooter had no light. But we made it home, returned the scooters 2 hours late without the dude caring.

Monday night we went to our rooms to get ready for another night on the town, and were planned to meet up back at homebase. Homebase in this case was the eating area for Flavia's place. Flavia was the name of the indian woman who rented us our rooms, she basically controls about 60 rooms as well as brings you food and beer whenever you want it. She has about 4 tables set up and there's usually 1 or 2 groups of people sitting there reading, eating, or just having a drink. On this night we met some more germans, and they decided to join us out for a drink. There were 2 girls and 2 guys, and they have been traveling for about a month in india, hitting mostly north india including trekking thru the himalayans. I found that especially interesting – One of the girls met a guy in spain who had been a monk near tibet for about 10 years. So he was the tour guide for the four of them thru the mountains. Apparently the high elevation took its toll and they retreated earlier than they planned. I don't remember how high they got, but i know people live 15,000 feet with some villages up around 20,000. They also toured Dehli, Rajasthan (which is a state containing many amazing sites), Mumbai (bombay), and of course Goa. We enjoyed many tasty beverages throughout the night, ending around 4am again. It really is nice to be on vacation.

One of the dudes, timothy, was hilarious. We met him the first night but he also found us the second night. Both times hilarity ensued. He was basically a comedian, talking about this and that for 10 or 20 minutes at a time, whether anybody was listening or not. Specifically, he loved star wars and would wave his flashlight around like a light saber while making the wohm-wohm noises. He also seemed to hate the local dogs that run around the beach without owners. I wouldn't call them wild, since they didn't really bother you, but he hated them. He even had red pepper spray which he claimed to have used on the dogs with no success. The spray advertised to work on bears, but i guess not dogs in goa. Here he is in his ready stance:

After only 4 hours of sleep, the next morning we hit the city of old goa on the way to the airport. This used to be an amazing portugese colony town, rivaling lisbon in its size. Most of the former buildings are gone (ruined in fire), but there was one church left. It was interesting, but the batteries in my camera were dead so without pictures who knows if it really existed at all.

We arrived back in bangalore, showered, met some googlers for dinner and crashed early. Despite my deep state of relaxation, i was completely tired. I don't think i have felt this good in a long time. Sigh. Grin.

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