February 28th, 2009
So the month couldn’t have ended better! I gotta admit, I was getting a little depressed waiting in Sanaa for my Indian visa. To make matters worse, my arrival here on the 27th was not verry enjoyable either. First of all, the plane arrived in Mumbai around 3am and the immigration guy gave me a hard time about not having an address in India. Still, that was a minor delay. In Sanaa, every time someone checked my Yemeni Visa, it was apparent that I should have checked in with SOMEBODY, but I’m not quite sure who, but I am pretty sure if I had found the “tourist police” I probably would have been able to prevent the disappearance of my passport at every checkpoint at the airport and the subsequent conference that ensued. Still, that was minor in its way.
I came out of the airport at Mumbai, and a security guy got me a free ride to the Regency Hotel, which I don’t really recommend to anyone, and here’s why:
First of all the guy there arranged for me to get a sleeper bus to Goa (I use the term “sleeper bus” loosely. It was simply an overnight coach). as everyone said it was better to take a train to Cochin from Goa than Mumbai. OK. Fine. But after everything was tallied, the bill came to $200 for the hotel and the bus. I am pretty sure I could’ve done the whole thing cheaper, but after seeing Mumbai, I decided I needed to be somewhere else. So I paid, and the next day, my breakfast (included) wasn’t what I ordered and the satellite TV had no sound. I checked my map and thought I should go to Panjim but everyone guided me to Mergau. As I wasn’t really looking for beach time, but historical stuff, I was a little frustrated, but after a terrible ride through probably what in the daytime was wonderful scenery, I decided I’d try Mergau. Pnjim was as intimidating as Mumbai, and it didn’t appear it would really offer much historical stuff. I was kinda feeling trapped by everything, and went on to Murgau. It was an improvement, but I was wondering if it would even be possible to catch the train to Cochin from there.
Travelling at night kinda made me feel homesick. Not homesick maybe, but worksick. We passed a lot of truck stops along the way, and at night, the first part of Goa was kindo a lot like Louisiana. Of course, at night, pretty well all orads look the same, but the first part of the trip was very much like passing through Luisiana along Interstate 10 (or more probably, the old Route 66) I didn’t get much sleep cause the ride was not rough so much, but the way the guy drove, the bus veered in and out of the lanes and careened around the curves so much, my head kept banging against the window. I had to switch buses at Panjim, and guess what? Eight o;clock in the morning, and they put ya in a real sleeper bus! It was not as nice as the overnight coach, and I thought I saw a flea on me. Dang!
So I get out at Mergau, and tried to escape the taxi drivers by fleeing to a restaurant, but one followed me and trapped me between two buses. He convinced me I should go to the beach. I told him I wanted a hotel for about 500R (Rupees) That’s about $10.00 US and $15 CDN. He said no problem and said the fare was 500 R and then part way there, he said he could take me to Palolem Beach where there were more foreigners. I thought that might be better, cause I would dearly love to get a Lonely Planet Guide for Inida. All I have is a Rough Guide Map, which is actually quite good. It’s waterproof and has points of interest printed on it. I have decided to go to the Elephant Sanctuary from here. It’s just north of Cochin, and I might be able to get a hotel there, and figure out where to go in Cochin. I’m hoping to be able to log my laptop onto the Internet café here at Royal Touch.
Which brings me back to the story. The cab driver took me from Mergau, and it turns out the beach was quite a way from the city, so he spoke pretty good English, and the trip through the forest and hills was very pleasant. I began to feel better about the trip and after being here for a while, (I’m actually writing this on the 1st of March) I feel all in all, things worked out quite well.
It’s about 35 degrees Celsius, the water is not cold, but refreshing, and it is so hot that a cold water shower is a good thing. I kinda came to the realization here in this idyllic setting, life doesn’t need to have a purpose, sometimes, and maybe in the long run, it’s best to just be. I have to keep reminding myself this is a holiday whether the original impetus was something else.
The food here is great! Did I mention the Chicken Marsala and Butter chicken? I had “The Full Monty” breakfast this morning (eggs, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes and tomatoes, toast and coffee. I ordered coffee just because I was curious, but India’s not known for coffee. The music has been great here. I’ve been bugging the bartender here to let me copy some of the CD’s he’s been playing. That may or may not happen. Right now he’s watching figure skating on TV! Watching ice skating while a warm breeze rustles the coconut palms!