Day 101: Arambol
At 9:30AM I wake up alone for the first time in a month. No sister snoozing next to me. Even in the southern Indian heat, the bed feels like a deep freeze. No amount of staring at the empty pillow next to me will magically conjure up some pseudo-sister formation, but I put in a respectable effort. I tear my head away from the pillow and storm down to a restaurant for breakfast, anywhere but the German Bakery, where the two of us spent every morning laughing over lassis. I scoot into a random breakfast place. I’m going to be just–I plop my butt down HARD–FINE, I think.
A foamy omelette and instant coffee pepper my palette as I ponder my next move. I don’t want to be in Goa anymore, alone. Do I continue south? Work my way to the East coast? Go on beach bummin’ or elevate to some foggy mountain town? It’s easy to see how so many travellers get stuck here, in the Goa bubble. There are no rules here. Anything you could want is readily accessible. It’s the Ultimate Beach Party, with no beginning and no end. It’s beautiful. It’s EASY. After traveling through the other areas of India for a month and a half, Goa is pie. It’s the sugar on the apple crumble. It’s finding the last bottle of beer hidden at the back of the fridge; it’s eating doughnuts for breakfast. It’s the difference between orchestrating a bank heist and picking up milk on the way home. But only one will make you richer.
I pad back to my room and put my swimsuit on. I go to the beach, play in the waves, read, write. Eat a salad that will likely add to the collection of illegal immigrants populating my digestive tract. Then I go home, shower, and sit on the bed. Bring out my map of India. My feet twitch. My heart twinges. It’s time to move again. I miss the other parts of India, miss masses of strange faces around me and the thrill of unexplored territory. After eight days in Arambol, the people here are friends, the roads familiar, the beach the same. I feel stagnant.
Gokarna? That would be a logical southern step. Fairly simple. But I feel hesitancy grabbing me by the shirt collar. Trains, busses . . . It’s not the physical act of being on them, but the often overtly frustrating act of booking transit that grips ever tighter on my (okay, it’s collarless) shirt. I put on some clothes for dinner and head out to the street, then walk into a nearby travel agent. I can get a local bus to Margao, they say, then book a train to Gokarna at the station. Or, I think, I could rent a motorcycle. Avoid all this hassle.
I walk through town and find a restaurant with little tables on an elevated platform lining the walls. I step up onto the ledge and sit crosslegged at a table shared with a guy who is talking on his phone and order myself a beer. He hangs up his phone and, after a few moments of pretending to ignore each other, he spouts up a conversation as smoothly as a pile of rubble. He’s kind though, and tells me about the corruption of his country, Romania. The average salary there is $300 a month.
“I ran a business selling food packaging,” he says, eyeing my beer. “What the heck.” He gestures to our server, who brings over another bottle. “One morning, after seven years of doing this, I woke up, and I just didn’t want to go to work.” He takes a swig of his brew. “So I quit. That day. I was unemployed for two months after that and then I flew to Goa, and I’ve been here a month already. I have five months left in India, then I go to Southeast Asia for another six months.”
We power through another beer each, then I bid farewell.
“Enjoy your trip!”
Vicky the model guy from Delhi spots me on the street as I make my way home.
“Hey! What are you doing tonight?”
“Where’s your sister?”
I’m surprised he recognized me without my other head. “She left.”
“Really? Oh no. Well, I’m going to the German Bakery in half an hour to meet some friends. And it’s funk night at Coco Loco’s. You should really come.”
I look down at my outfit. Shrug again. “Yeah, okay. I’ll meet you at the Bakery.”
Back at my room I change out of my stupid dress into shorts, then head to the Bakery. Vicky’s long locks are nowhere to be seen in the crowded room, so I scooch between those two animated British girls. As I sip on a beer, their chatter bounces off either side of my head like they’re using my ears for target practice, and I realize I’m in no mood to join in.
I’m tired and bored. Goa has run it’s course for me. Excusing myself, I sift through the sandy beach down to Coco Loco’s. The bouncer says it’s two hundred rupees to enter. The club is packed–if any little Goan babies are conceived tonight they will be hard pressed getting labeled as free-run.
I walk up past the back entrance of Coco Loco’s, where Marnie and I snuck in just a few days ago, and to the street. Going clubbing in my less than social state would entice me to overcompensate by way of fermented elixirs and certain other things to alter my chemical make-up and leave me feeling as charismatic as a bag of wet sand at breakfast tomorrow. My omelettes need me as much as I need them.
On the way home, a fruit stall still stands open. I pick out a big purple dragonfruit. Laying in bed, I scarf down the white, seedy guts and read my book until I fall asleep. I sprout dragonfruit fetuses in my dreams. They have endless free space to roam yet they just sit still in one spot.