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Published: March 26th 2017
February 20 we arranged a 5:30am auto rickshaw to get us to Hosapet in time for our 6:20am train. The only traffic on the road was endless ox carts heading off to the fields. The drivers and occasional passengers were huddled up in blankets while we were appreciating the breeze. There was a bit of a wait at the station as it was announced that the train was running an hour late - it was actually two hours late by the time it showed up. Right around sunrise the Mosquitos came out in force so we hid inside the waiting room. Breakfast was a "dosa to go" - a rice pancake wrapped around potato curry and wrapped in paper. Quite delicious.
So 2 hours late leaving Hosapete and another hour late arriving in Madgaon, Goa. That is Indian railways for you - a late train keeps on getting later as it has to give way to trains that are actually on time. There was no danger of starving or being thirsty though, with young men constantly circulating selling chai and tasty food.
On our first trip to India 9 years ago we were nearing the end of a 19
hour train ride and couldn't wait to get to the beach. Looking at the map, it seemed like the stop in south Goa was closer to the beach than the one in northern Goa. So we got off the train in Madgaon and headed to Benaulim beach a mere 10 minute drive away...... and now we are returning to paradise for our third visit.
Arriving at the Minria guesthouse we were somewhat surprised to be told we were staying in "their other place 2 minutes away"......well we ended up with a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment with fridge and AC for $22 a night - we can live with that (this was the same price as a single room in the original building). So little has changed here, yet so much has changed - a lot of signs in Russian, many small supermarkets and Ayurveda clinics. One of our favourite chai stands was closed but the other is still open. And there is a bhel puri stand close to our guesthouse for dinner!
It has not taken long to fall into a routine of walking into the small town for chai and breakfast (onion pastries or deep fried
chillies) then walking 10 minutes to the beach for a few hours. The water is incredibly warm with occasional huge waves. There are life guards stationed along the beach front which is a bit of a surprise. The only time we saw them blow their whistles (people either swimming outside the flagged area, or swimming too far out at dusk) they were largely ignored. Tourists! Each beach shack has loungers in front that are free so long as you eat and drink there which is not a problem! Fresh lime sodas (sweet) are refreshing in the heat and the tandoori chicken kebab with mint for lunch at the Little Tiger was delicious. After soaking up the sun for a bit we walked along the beach to the town of Colva then walked up the main street til we found Kelly's barber where he got a haircut and a shoulder massage and a facial and a..........2 hours later he was finished.
Day 2 and the chai shop is closed!!!!! So we went to german bakery but then we found another chai place at Maria Hall which is the area of town our guesthouse is in.!!!!! I think this is my
favourite chai to date - there was so much cardamon in it. Plus there were yummy onion pastries. There were no loungers free at Little Tiger so we went next door to Ice Cube - that is Kelly's preference from now on as their beer is COLD!
Our guest house is on the main Colva road but it is quiet at night and as it is at the non tourist end of village it has 2 evening food stands. While at the bhel puri stand, 2 English couples stopped and we convinced them to try it - they had been in Benaulim nearly two months - where are they eating?
Day 3 and we decided to stretch our legs and walk along the beach to Mobor - 2 hours later we decided to call it quits at the beach at Cavelossin. While having lunch at a beach shack, we noticed that a lot of the empty loungers were being taken off the beach. We learnt later that each beach shack is only allowed 20 loungers - and the police were doing an inspection that day!!! Similarly the ladies selling sarongs on the beach will disappear when they hear
the police are coming.
Feb 24 we headed to Kumta, Karnataka and Ayurveda Yoga Village for three weeks.
March 17 - cleansed and stretched, we were given a prayer for a safe journey and happy life from the staff at Ayurveda Yoga Village and headed back to Goa by car - we should have taken the train!!!! How soon you forget what driving in India is like - why pass only one car when you can pass a car that is already passing the first one - and on a corner to boot!!!! A bit of a hair raising drive but the stunning scenery made up for it. Ocean on one side, coconut trees and crops on the other in Karnataka and then once we crossed into the state of Goa (our driver put his seat belt on) it was quiet roads beneath over hanging coconut palms. The car and driver was free (AYV provides one way transportation) and although we were assured the driver spoke good English and knew where he was going, they were wrong on both counts. We probably went about 20km too far and he was constantly stopping and asking for directions. But we
made it finally. We are staying at the Minria again and this time have a 1 bedroom apartment on the top floor and we have a huge east facing terrace as well as a small south facing terrace that is shaded by a tall mango tree so lots of shade. An added bonus is the washing machine and yoga mat. Most Indian stores sell small quantities of things (so people only have to buy as they need it) so we were able to get 2 washloads worth of laundry detergent - it will be nice to have clean clothes again - hand washing sometimes just gives the illusion of clean.
We quickly settled into a leisurely and cheap way of life for the next 10 days. Our average cost of living is about $35 CAD a day ($22 for the room and $12 for food). Chai and sweet banana bun at Sureshs canteen for brekky, lunch at a beach shack and street food for dinner. We are supposed to be trying to eat gluten free but the cheese garlic naan are just too delicious. We have traded sweet lime soda for fresh lime juice in plain water and still
no alcohol (as of day 9 of normal life). The vegetable and fruit stands at the Maria Hall crossroads supply us with cucumbers, pineapple, bananas and papaya - delicious with fresh lime and sprinkled with our new favourite condiment - black salt. We must be becoming regulars at the bhel puri and pakora stands cos now we are given our food on little tin plates instead of newspaper and tinfoil. There is also a momos stand - Nepalese dumplings. Yum. Prior to leaving Canada we took an oral vaccination against travellers diarrhea. Suspecting that the Ayurvedic centre may have purged this out of us, we are religiously taking grape fruit seed extract - so far, so good. A splurge was eating at Rogers on the beach on our last Saturday night - crispy calamari, fish cafreal, allo chaat and jeera rice - what great taste sensations. This was the first time that Indian tourists out numbered the westerners, both on the beach and eating at the beach restaurants.
The best time to go for a walk is early morning before the heat gets too much - quiet roads lead to the beach and back. There is usually a lot
is fishing activity to be seen with fresh fish being carried off the boats, fish being laid out to dry.
Turns out that we are having a wee visitor at night - hoping it is one of the cute squirrels that play in the mango tree right outside the window and patio and not a rat Needless to say, garbage (fruit peels) are kept in the fridge overnight now.
Tomorrow ( Monday March 27) we catch the overnight train from Margao to Ernakalum Junction ( kochin) and from there to Sri Lanka - a new adventure awaits.
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