Day 95: Arambol
By 6:30 a.m. Marnie and I are prancing out the door in sports bras and shorts. The streets are still dark as we pad barefooted towards the sound of the ocean.
“Good morning,” we chirp to a passing couple.
We chug some water, stow the bottle in a boat anchored on shore, and start running. The sky is morphing from dusky mauve to a rosy glow; balmy waves engulf our toes. We dash to the south end of the beach where the shore is less congested with restaurants. The odd cafe or hut dots the sand, sprinkled with people bending their bodies to salute the imminent arrival of the sun.
“What is that?” Marnie points to something large and grey laying on the shore.
A dolphin carcass, skull fully exposed, rotting flesh disintegrating in the saltwater, lays beached. Flies buzz around its head. The stench makes me dry heave.
We continue on down the shore, then wade back through knee deep water and throw our bodies over the rolling waves until an army of goosebumps march all over our skin and a saltwater trail follows us back to our hostel room where we put on dry clothes.
Sipping coffee at a beachside cafe ten minutes later has us regretting leaving our swimsuits at the room; the waves of the Arabian Sea sizzle on the baking sand beneath the stifling Goan sun. We go back to the room for beachwear.
Marnie heads straight for the littoral again, armed in a couple pieces of fabric, while I hang in the room, cursing last nights fish curry for forcing me into a relationship with the toilet shittier than my last dating experience.
Alas, at 1:30, I’ve found Marnie sprawled on a chaise beneath the shade of an umbrella, and in mere moments, I’m rebounding on chicken avocado salad and a cold brew. Our server, Suri from Kolkata, tells of seasons past that saw many more tourists than this year. We bodysurf in the tropical waters. Bronzed, goddess moms eat icecream with their daughters; a bodybuilder resembling a pumped up Xena: Warrior Princess flexes her shiny muscles in the sun; two girls scream at a couple Indian guys imposing on their bikini photoshoot; twenty-somethings in next to nothing strut the beach, only to turn around and reveal they are fifty-somethings. Russians are fascinating to watch.
A skinny, pale dude in Matrix-style sunglasses sidles over to our spot and asks Marnie to play frisbee with him. His hands nervously slide in and out of his pockets as though he’s cleaning them.
Maybe later, she says.
Upon reaching a maximum crisping point, we head for the showers. In the blue tiled bathroom, the glow of Marnie’s scarlet epidermis is a shocking contrast. Then a wave of tummy troubles hits me again, and I’m incapacitated for another half hour.
Pink-skinned and starving, we head to the street in search of food. Down the street is the German Bakery, a popular, open air cafe that buzzes with activity from early morning to late night. It’s the kind of place where the active, healthy vacationers pop in for a croissant and a coffee, the hard-core ravers drop in wild-eyed for a post-party brunch and beer, it’s where hippies sit for six hours puffing marijuana and chatting with patrons, and where everyone who comes to Arambol stops for dinner or a pre-rave refreshment at least once. We slide into a wooden bench and our waiter, an Indian guy in his thirties with a friendly face, takes our order. He drops off coffee and papad to the table, but my stomach still feels less settled than a tribe of desert nomads. A Brit named Tom says hello. There is a festival today, at Mandrem Beach, 7 p.m.
“Maybe see you there,” he says.
Marnie and I go back to the room for a rest, trying to relinquish our drained bodies and weary brains for a ‘night out’. We drag ourselves from the squishy mattress and change. Dinner time. On the way, I spot a blue tye-dye shirt. For the party, I think, slipping into the rave wear, trying to get my head in the game. After passing row after row of minutely different restaurant set-ups, we sit down for rice and chicken curry, discussing the possibilities for the evening. Neither of us feel particularly attached to the idea of staying up all night. Plus, it is a long walk to get there, and . . . what the heck. We’re in Goa. Let’s go to a beach party! I’m wearing tye-dye!
We’ll stop at home, we decide, to drop our stuff off and sit down, just for a second . . .
Any justifications to go the party are snuffed out by the thought of sleep, oh-so-imminent as we sit here, the soft mattress rendering the powers of tye-dye useless. So, we brush our teeth.
And go to bed.