Palolem and Vagator
01.01.2010 - 03.01.2010 28 °C
Yesterday we got up early to get the local bus to Vagator, where we decided to stay for our second last night. It cost us about R12 each to get most of the way and seemed far more effcient than getting a driver. There was nothing intimidating about the experience except for the lack of leg room on one stretch and the 20 different hooter sounds the bus had. We figured out a few. There's definitely one to say, "I'm coming, watch where you're walking/cycling." It's simple and polite. There's the "I'm stopping right here" one, which is a little longer and varied. There's a friendly one to say "I'm overtaking" and a slightly more alert and lengthy one to signal that the bus is coming round the bend. There's one when entering a new town, which is elaborate and has many different tones and finally, there's a purely egotistical one that says something along the lines of, "I'm here. This is my bus. I'm big. I drive fast. I love my bus. You should love my bus too." This one goes on for a few minutes, is ridiculously loud and has a slightly discernible tune to it. I'll upload videos eventually.
We got to Vagator and walked around on a hot, sticky day with my backpack close to the weight of my body, trying to find a place to stay for the night. The first place we walked into was hidden and simple and weird. On the walls of the rooms were hand-written signs saying:
The "No Killing" part, coupled with a severe absence of people, was enough to send us on our way. (We subsequently figured out it may have been an Ashram, but then we're not quite sure they'd allow non-meditating travellers to stay there. I'm also still keen to spend time at one at some stage, but perhaps not this particular one. It felt very abandoned, even by peace and contentment.)
We found a much friendlier and more peaceful place and then had a squiz around Chapora harbour and then headed to one of the local beaches.
The beaches were weird. I think we'd pictured slightly deserted coves with lighter sand and grand cliffs behind us. What we experienced were Indian- and international tourist- packed coves with dark sand, lots of Eastern European accents and too many tattoos. The best part was when a bulky, loud and slightly aggressive Indian man, who insisted on a photo with us, had his camera confiscated for that very reason.
The picture cuts out the people. The other is the beach near the harbour, where we should have remained.
These shots are of in and around town.
A cow on Palolem beach (as common as a package tourist in Goa) and the view from where we had dinner last night overlooking Little Vagator
A view inside a local bus, Agonda Beach (next to Palolem and much quieter and more chilled), and the famous Nativity scenes- seen outside most houses in this end of India. The best thing about them is that they are elaborate, large and always include a real, living garden. The second one even has a cave that has been made into the hills, in which a ferocious lion is about to eat the cow (I'd like to believe this is not indicative of subtle, underlying religious conflict in this part of the world).
And with that, I must leave. We're heading to Mapusa (pronounced Mapsa) Market today and then off to Mumbai for our last night and day. Some sadness exists inside me, but I will be back. Until then, I look forward to zero mozzies, untainted tap water, experimenting with curry dishes after a curry break, clean and non-sticky clothes and a bit of meat.