Day 106: Palolem
Around 930am I step out of my room, and Aviel is sitting in the chair outside. Sweat is dripping down his face and his chest is heaving. He just got back from a run.
“I’m going to shower.”
“I’m going to write.”
He closes the door of his room behind him. I walk a few grains of sand over from our guesthouse to a breakfast nook and grab a table in a shady corner overlooking the mid-morning risers milling about like animated tumbleweeds. I write, forking an omelette into my mouth and sipping my instant coffee that I’ve become hopelessly addicted to. Then I head back to the patio outside my room and swing in the swingy chair for a while, feeling like I have the potential to become the chair, I’m so comfortable. At some point, Nofar and Shay return from wherever they were. Aviel is missing, on another date with the British girl. We decide it’s a beach day.
Skimming the stretch in search of our other friends, Assaf and the brothers, Dor and Zohar, we finally spot Dor strolling the beach solo. He joins us as we bob like dead fish on our floaties in the waves, and play frisbee and Madcock in the sand.
Like clockwork, I lose the tanning game. Before my skin starts to bubble from the searing sun, I hide in the shade of a nearby restaurant, where I’m soon joined by Assaf and Zohar. Zohar is vibrating, and his eyes are dilated. He just got in a motorcycle accident. His elbow is shredded where he fell on a rough patch of pavement going way too fast. Another motorbike, another humbling experience in the name of mortality.
I have to go to the mechanic now, to check on my new bike that Kahn is supposed to have ready for me. I hop on a moto taxi, who drops me in the driveway.
“No charge,” he says over his shoulder, and drives off.
Kahn appears then, standing next to a sleek, sparkling motorcycle. MY motorcycle.
“Why you come late?” he smiles.
The bike is like my old one, only brand new and shiny with an electric start. No dents, and on the side it says ‘ROYAL ENFIELD’. The old one read ‘ROY ENFIE’. Oh, poor Roy. Kahn tells me to take it for a test drive. I jump on the saddle and turn the key, rev it to life. I let the clutch out and it powers forward with the gusto of a spooked horse. Oh, this baby will take me to mountain tops, no problem. I didn’t have that confidence in my old one.
I promise Kahn I’ll meet him here tomorrow at 9am with half the rental cash and my passport. He offers to give me a ride to my guesthouse, but I choose to walk.
I meander home, then sit on the steps and watch the sun simmer into the sea, imagining the cloud wisps are steam rising from it. The Israeli couple staying in the room next to mine sit on the steps with me, the girl a knockout who is an uncanny doppelgänger of Penelope Cruz in Vicky Christina Barcelona. She’s got the looks, personality, and the charming insanity. She enlightens me with the “true story” of Moses and other eccentric Jewish facts, with such passion and vigour I’m almost convinced she had been there herself. Just then, Aviel strolls up from the beach and sits with us, then begins laughing when he realizes what sort of story he has just walked into. Shay and Nofar appear, and we all mosey a few doors down to a fancy little place with delicious curry and rice and bread. Our group moves to another restaurant eventually, where the other Israeli boys are playing pool. I win one game, lose the next. We down shots of Monk until we’re kicked out and everyone goes to the bar next door, while I continue home to bed. Assaf, Dor and Zohar will be meeting us in Om Beach in a couple of days.
“See you soon!”
As I walk up the beach in the direction of my bed, I think about Canada, how this trip is coming to an end in just three weeks. Surprisingly, the thought of going home doesn’t instill a sense of dread in me. But I’m itching to get back on the motorcycle tomorrow, to speed down Indian roads. I like my new friends, a lot. And pretty soon I’ll be in Ooty, in Ooty. Oh, the mountains.
I fall asleep immediately.