Dressed and ready to face a scintillating afternoon going through Dad's mind-numbingly complicated finances with the accountant. If coming home is getting back to reality
why is it that I feel so much more alive in India?
Talking of which, here's the final instalment of our trip (I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief ).
Rather than catching the 4.20am Konkani Express train we splashed out on a taxi from Agonda up to the northernmost tip of Goa, a two-hour drive for just shy of £12.
|Arambol Beach (December, 2011)|
We've been going to Arambol for years, a undeveloped, chilled-out, hippy fishing village backed by cashew farms and coconut groves, often staying for months at a time.We'd heard rumours that it was no longer the laid-back retreat we knew and loved, instead becoming the favoured base for hip Russian ravers & sadly the gossip turned out to be true. We pulled up in the taxi to discover our once peaceful haven literally bursting at the seams.
Our usual guest house was full so we left our bags with the owner and after a couple of hours of searching (the boom in popularity means cheap accommodation is like gold dust) settled on a room in this pink village house for around £3.50 a night. After collecting our bags and a quick change we headed off to the beach.
Man, it was hideous. The sand was strewn with rubbish, beach shacks competing to attract customers by playing deafeningly loud trance music while employees shouted "free sun bed, free sun bed" at every opportunity. What with the endless hassle from hawkers flogging their tat & the bus loads of whiskey-ed up men intent on sexually harassing bikini-wearing Westerners it was almost impossible to relax. Alternative Arambol now resembled the beaches of the North Goa charter tourist belt we'd avoided for years.
After a shower and a sunset drink we headed back to the beach, realising that the once cheap food and drink on offer in Arambol were a thing of the past, many of our favourite restaurants had sold their leases while the going was good and moved on. The waiters were more concerned with dragging passers-by in to fill the tables than to pay attention to the customers already there. Much as we love our music the monotonous beat of the Russian trance soundtrack made conversation nigh-on impossible in many places.
Even worse was that the infrastructure was struggling to cope with the huge influx of tourists , the villagers' water tank was filthy and the stream choked with waste dumped from the nearby shacks, which flowing down the beach into the sea leaving a stinking trail of scum in it's wake.
After four days we decided enough was enough and hopped on a bus back to the south.
Thank goodness we did, too. We made new friends,
and I was able to get my kit off again in peace.
We splashed out on a room in this guest house (£5.60 a night).
It had piping hot water supplied by rooftop solar panels - a real luxury to wash our clothes in after a couple of weeks on the road.
This is as busy as I like my beaches, no sun beds, no hawkers, no hassle, just the locals going about their business,
and the odd bull in training for a race.
It was surreal to chat to a couple of Brits and discover that the UK was under a blanket of snow and sub-zero temperatures whilst we were basking in 35 °c of sunshine.
And that was that, our 20th trip to India (and 16th visit to Goa) and despite our beloved Arambol being ruined we still can't wait to go back.
Why do we love it? (Mostly) beautiful, chilled and unspoilt beaches, culture by the bucket-load, warm & lovely people, the best vegetarian food in the world, sunshine, colour and spice. Paradise comes cheap, too, £20 a day covers all our food, booze, mineral water, Jon's tobacco, transport and accommodation.
|Vintage Bukta leotard (10p, jumble sale) worn with a 1970s Richard Shops denim waistcoat (my friend, Ronnie), 1970s cotton midi skirt by Highlight (YMCA), Candy-coloured platforms (£5, retail), 1950s rose print bag (20p, car boot sale), a heap of second-hand & Indian jewellery and Murano-esque glass beads (courtesy of the fabulous Em)|
Thanks so much for reading and for your continual support and comments, coming back is always hard but you, the fabulous women of the blogging community, make it so much easier.
See you soon.
Joining the party and linking to Patti's Visible Monday