The first thing to strike us upon arrival was the heat, Delhi, Jaipur and Ranthambhore had all been warm but Goa was another story! After we arrived at the hostel, which was everything the 95% rating on hostelbookers had promised it would be, we dropped off our bags and went to check out the beach before enjoying our first of many traditional Goan fish curries. After all this travelling and currying upon returning to our hostel Ali and I were very ready for a couple of Kingfishers, you can imagine our dismay therefore when we were informed that we had arrived in Goa on a ‘dry day’; where no alcohol was being served due to local election (no, I’m not sure why elections and alcohol are incompatible either). This shocking news meant that our first night in Goa was spent chilling out with the people in our hostel whilst seeing off bottles of mineral water before having an early night, nutters.
The next day we awoke, fully hydrated and hangover free, to another boiling hot day, the sort that gives you no choice but to hang around on the beach all day and go for the occasional dip in the sea and this is, of course, exactly what we did. After working on my burn tan all day we headed out with the guys from our hostel (3 Canadians, a couple of Brits, a South African and a Swiss Girl) with the sole intention of sticking it to the Goan authorities by having a beer on (the second) election day and so, after dodging the hordes of blokes trying to sell us LSD, Cocaine and a host of other substances, we arrived at the beach to negotiate with the bar owners for a bit of the real hard stuff, Tuborg. After some hushed discussion we found a bar that was willing serve us, as long as we sat upstairs with the lights turned off, drank out of cups and hid the bottles immediately, despite feeling a bit like customers at a Al Capone era speakeasy this at least represented a mission accomplished, take that Goan democracy. After leaving the 1920s we managed to find another, more relaxed bar on the way home where we met with some more people from our hostels, including three Dutch girls with whom, being quite merry by now, we arranged to rent scooters the following day to drive to a neighbouring beach.
Come noon the next day I soon came to realise that this was far easier said than done; it’s not that there was any lack of scooters, or a problem with those available. The problem was that it would never have crossed my mind the night before that I wouldn’t be able to drive a scooter, a failing that I was soon to confront when the guy arrived with them. As I strode up to what I was sure was to be my hog for the next few days and the guy asked if I knew how to drive it I obviously replied with a carefree yes, a confidence which continued throughout his instruction talk when I was busy imagining myself as an easy rider figure and pondering names for my biker gang rather than listening to where the brake was. This misplaced confidence was soon ruthlessly exposed when I was asked to take the bike for a test drive to the end of the road, around a tree and back to the hostel, ignoring advice to go slowly I managed to rev the crap out of the engine fly off down the road, completely fail to turn and end up crashing into the road, Jay from the inbetweeners style, despite this minor crash I felt I’d got the hang of it, a view obviously not echoed by the scooter’s owner who greeted my jaunty thumbs up with a disgusted shake of the head. Ali’s turn was even shorter as after sitting on the scooter for just enough time to give it a tentative rev he was unceremoniously hauled off it whilst the guy told anyone and everyone in earshot about our total lack of scooter driving ability. Our masculinity then took a final blow as the Dutch girls (Belinda, Marloena and Helma) took their turns and, obviously, perfected the test drive on a moped which the guy described as much more powerful as the one we were on which was apparently more suited for old ladies running errands. Luckily the girls decided they didn’t fancy scooters anyway and so, suitably chastened, we hung up our leathers and went for breakfast before getting a cab to Vagator beach. By that evening the elections had finished and so we headed out for our first legal beer in Goa, we also attended our first trance party on the beach which are common all around Goa. Although the music sounded quite a lot like a lawnmower filled with cutlery and shards of glass falling down a narrow, but deep, well the setting was awesome and provided us with the opportunity, after a few hours of displaying some outrageous dance moves to the shock and awe of the onlooking hippies, to live up to the stupid-tourist-by-the-sea stereotype and go for a late night swim (on the rockiest stretch of the beach of course) before, a bit scratched, returning home.
This pretty much set the pattern for our time in Goa, heading to picturesque Vagator during the day before heading back to the hostel and going to the livelier Anjuna beach at night. After a couple of days of this we decided to break the pattern and joined the Dutch girls on an early morning ‘Dolphin spotting trip’, which it turned out would be more aptly named as a getonaboathangaroundfortwentyminutescatchaglimpseofdolphintailandheadback trip. After this disappointment we pretty much decided not to change our formula anymore, although our beach partners did change as most people left on the same day as the dolphin trip. After another day on the beach Ali left on the 8th to join his parents in Mumbai whilst I set out with the remaining people in our hostel to find a good place to play Holi, the indian festival of colours, which pretty much involves people chucking a load of coloured powder on each other. After a fruitless bus trip to a neighbouring town where we managed to catch the last five minutes of a party we headed back down to Anjuna beach where we got well and truly holi’d before heading to one of the bars for lunch. In a celebratory mood after taking part in one of the great ‘why not’ festivals in the world, up there with the running of the bulls and the tomatina this lunchtime also saw our first experience of Fenni, the local liquor, which easily outstrips the likes of Sambuca and tequila to join the pantheon of truly awful shots up there with the likes of Wray and Nephews and that dodgy Irish stuff. Anyway, after a couple of these we headed home for a shower (not a collective one) before going back down to the beach for a few more, aided by a couple of beers one too many fenni (which is basically any more than one) finally took its toll and I spent my last night in Goa crashed out on a hammock spooning a packet of crisps, standard.
The next day, a little worse for wear, I caught the flight back to Delhi having thoroughly enjoyed our ten day tour, particularly the last leg in Goa where I met a lot of cool people, found a new shot to avoid and enjoyed the atmosphere in easily the most chilled out place I’ve ever been. Anyway, enough of that.. now back to football, I mean how many people can really say that after a week on the beach they are looking forward to going back to work?!
P.S For those who havent seen it, me on a scooter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ch-BF2QXAQU ….(I didnt actually fall off, but please dont let that stop you thinking it for comedic effect)