Day 99: Arambol
Marnie and I drag our hangovers to our old Goan haunt for breakfast. The German Bakery is fizzling with the stale booze-excreting pores of a crowd likely more hungover than we are. There isn’t an empty table in the house so we slide in next to a couple blonde British girls whose dialogue bounces across the table, telling tales of party fables from a sleepless, neverending night. It’s her birthday today, the one with the short hair, and the restaurant owner surprises her with a chocolate truffle. These girls have been in Arambol for almost a month now, and they know all the staff by name. I eat bhurji and fruit salad and chug iced coffee until my eyelids vibrate. Rum-based sweat clogs every pore of my body; my blood but a death threat to any audacious mosquitos. All this inspires our plan for the day: the beach and Bacardi Breezers!
The following hours include tuna salad, too much sun, and two massages for three dollars! Before the abusive rays have a chance to leave us cremated in the sand, we go back to our room and our skin turns the cold shower water to steam on contact. We walk around the streets; Marnie finds some breezy pants in a shop; I hit up the barber, who shaves the side of my head to match the other side I had done yesterday. The far-fetched promises of beautiful pashmina lure us into a little shop whose inside cannot be seen from the street.
The young man running it swathes us in multicoloured fabrics and asks to pose for pictures with us, in hardly appropriate ways but consistent with his new name for Marnie and himself as the “Kashmiri Couple”. Hilarity barely trumps our disgust as he stands behind Marnie and wraps his arms around her, nestles his head next to hers and looks into the camera with the bedroom eyes of a slow loris, but it’s funny enough to endure for the sake of capturing it on camera.
“Goodbye!” We say in response to his dinner invitation.
It’s dark now. Marnie and I pop into the German Bakery for a drink and then on the way to the beach, spot our mysterious German friends hanging out in the live music shack. They try to encroach on our dinner plans.
“We’re just having a girls dinner tonight.” Marnie is as smooth as a Camel cigarette. So Frank and his buddy walk us down the beach to a seafood place.
“Come to Coco Loco’s later,” they say, waving goodbye.
Over curry and cocktails we giggle about everything. This trip. The people, ourselves. Yet we both know what tomorrow brings, and it seeps into the evening’s atmosphere like sour wine. We go back to the German Bakery, then home to take hideous pictures of ourselves, laughing until we nearly wet the bed, then realize it’s already midnight. Grabbing an adult pop from the store, we walk down the beach until the flashing lights of Coco Loco appear, sending Morse Code signals into space. The club is packed; a lineup trails out the door. Neither of us are in the mood to wait in a lineup to pay the entrance fee. We walk along the side of the outer wall towards the back. A bamboo fence haphazardly encloses the back area, and over the top, we peek a staff member laying on a wooden bench, snoozing under a blanket. Marnie and I step over the crooked fence door and tiptoe past the sleeping man and through a hallway where another worker stands, eyeing us.
“Where are the bathrooms?” Marnie asks before he has a chance to say anything. He points down the hall.
It leads directly to the back corner of the dance floor. We get a couple bottles of beer from the bar and turn around. In the seating area, Frank and his friend are sitting at a table, in matching all-black outfits, both with their hoods up so that you have to duck a little to see their eyes. We join them in their corner. Then Yimmy, the middle-aged Finnish badass and his posse of metal-band-shirt wearing buddies eye us from across the room. They are flying on something with a little more zing than alcohol. Yimmy, Marnie and I hit the dance floor like fourteen-year-old girls, flailing to Beyoncé like she just hired us for the music video remake. Yimmy dances closer and closer to Marnie until we have to claim exhaustion and go sit with the German boys again. This town has shrunk since we arrived. More and more people look familiar every day.
When it’s time to go, Frank and his friend join us. Both their hoods are still up, and they’ve puffed through an entire bag of hash in the past hour. Walking along the shore in the dark, I ask Frank why he lives here and where he came from and how he lives here so . . . elusively. But getting information out of him is like extracting teeth from a shark. His mysterious image transcends to his nature, and I have to silently applaud his consistency.
Marnie and I want to swim. We say goodbye to the boys. Maybe we’ll see you again, we all say. They walk away. Marnie and I hide our stuff in one of the beached rowboats and sprint into the inky ocean wearing nothing but a couple of huge silly grins. It looks as though someone dumped a box of glitter into the water, or the starry nighttime sky just fell right into the sea. But these magical plankton – the phosphorescence – are just reacting with our movement to create the sparkling swirls of a waterlogged Milky Way in fast forward.
We walk home, hair dripping a salty plankton trail behind us. Marnie packs her bag.
Tomorrow, she leaves.