Goa. the legendary tropical beaches of southwest India. the place where the Portuguese settled & colonized in the 1500's & made predominantly catholic & found financial & political control, until the 1947 Indian Independence which ended that & the larger British Raj control. Goa. the place where the hippies came beginning in the 1960's to getaway from the materialistic west, live for dirt cheap, & party on the beaches. Some have never left, & many have been coming to Goa consistently in all shapes, ages, nationalities, & sizes for a good vacation. Some have made it there home. Like me! Well, for one month anyway. I am already dreaming about coming here annually (and why the heck did it take me 12 years to get here? that's when i first wanted to come to India, & now this Goa scene is kind of overblown & not like 'the good ole days'). Prices go up for December & January. Sometimes double or triple the normal rates at hotels, beach huts, & restaurants.
38 hour 2nd class AC train to Goa. Met a russian older lady in my compartment who liked to talk. She shared her life story with me. It was nice to have a companion on the long voyage, although I found myself just wanting to read, listen to music, or watch movies on my little ole Archos 504 super-toy! Arrived around 10:30pm at some random city NOT on the beach & so I took a taxi into Colva (the nearest beach) and stayed at a family guesthouse room that I had called to reserve. Very nice family! Morning time went for breakfast & walk on the beach then took rickshaw to start my journey to the very north beach of Goa, Arambol. 3 buses & 3 hours later I arrived. That makes it sound simple though. 3 VERY PACKED buses & 3 VERY LONG HOT HOURS later I arrived at Arambol & then it got worse from there.
My friend Alex had reserved me a room & I was to call her cellphone to meet her. Her phone did not work & I waited at a restaurant with all my luggage trying repeatedly for 5 hours until darktime. I then locked up my bags with a chain & went to this reggae show where I thought she would be. Sure enough, by 10pm or so I found her & went to my new room. It actually gets rough again, as opposed to smooth, which I believe is what we prefer, no? Rough in the sense that my new room was very noisy & not quiet as I wanted. The family that owns the guesthouse had a store adjacent to my wall & woke up every morning at 7am sharp & began their shuffling. I am a lightsleeper & when I wake up, I'm up! Even if I try & go back to sleep, almost always..I toss & turn & give in to the day. 7am is not always when I want to get up, especially after late night music events. I put up with this interrupted sleep for 5 more nights then decided to change rooms. Problem was I had paid in advance for one month in this room. So, I manifested somebody that gets up at 5am for yoga, a woman named Paddy from Australia. Perfect! Next, I found myself the super-Shanti quiet room at Ludu Guesthouse up on top of this hillside where I hear ocean waves (100 metres to the rocky shore where the restaruants are) , palm trees in the wind, & crows for my wake up call. The soothing sounds of nature that are much more delightful than waking up to motorcycles revving. I like it here & am staying 1 month in this room at 300 rupees ($7.50) a night.
My impressions with Goa so far ::
Tropical utopian paradise where beaches, warm ocean water, palm trees, blue skies, sun, fruit & seafood are abundant.
The good life! I remember this. Oh yeah! From a kid travelling to Florida & California with my pops, I fell deeply in love with this lifestyle. The beach life is for me. Yeah, Vancouver has it's beaches but the months are so few each year when the weather is hot that we feel a natural anxiety that "oh know...summer's gone already? I have to wait another 3 seasons again!". I would love to set up a spring/summer pad on one of the BC gulf islands (i hear some get less rain & are in warm belts? Gabriola?), But Goa is year round hot. November to February are the ideal times to be here. March begins the monsoon season where rain will fall like waterfalls wildly month after wet month (makes the Pacific NW seem tame in comparison). Goa, of course is also a party place. The hippie generation of the 1960's made Goa a party scene where life was & still is cheap & simple. Back then it was rock n' roll psychedelic parties on the beach, especially full moon, & somewhere in the late 80's til now, Goa trance took over (for those not into electronic music, this is techno rhythm, with more repetitive bass lines & wierd sci-fi sounds. Other styles of trance include psy-trance, progressive trance, etc..). Nowadays the scene is not at it's peak (all scenes naturally rise & fall, like ebb & flow of the tide, up & down like a roller coaster ride). The people, drugs, & parties are still very much here, but the local governments have decided to tighten the ropes even more this year & the police are as corrupt as ever. The have six jurisdictions of police here in Arambol, & each team sometimes comes to the parties, clubs, restaurants doing music events to get their baksheesh (bribe). This year is the first they have made a 10pm noise curfew which is totally against human nature! I mean, 10pm is usually when most events start! It has caused small restaurants owners that cannot afford the big baksheesh (20k Rupees= $500 US) to throw late events a big loss in sales & potential for their venues.
More on Goa:
Many many Israeli & Russian young tourists (In India, but especially in Goa). They come here for many reasons, and one, perhaps as we all do in some way, is to escape our lifes back home & find some R&R on the beaches of Goa. First the Israeli's. Many of these Israeli's are here because as citizens of Israel they are required to serve 2-3 years in the military. Some have already served. Some are looking to leave Israel & avoid that mandatory service. A rare few are here for a short vacation, and believe in their duty to serve in the army & protect their country. One thing is for sure, the Israeli's, like the Russians, stick together in their groups, & stereotypically come off as being cold, distant, & not so friendly with the international community. I did get a chance to meet a few warm, kind, open-minded Israeli's & Russians while there though. Had a great dinner conversation with a young woman, Gabrielle, who taught me a new viewpoint on their perspective. She said that often Israeli's see layed back relaxed west coast american/canadians like myself as somebody hard to connect with. They judge us as being too relaxed to care about the international violence occuring & that if we were more involved & activists in the struggle like them, then we could relate. I see the logic in this, but it's just a clash of mindsets. We create our own reality. Yes, I feel lucky to have been born in a peaceful part of the world where war & terrorism has not been a part of my direct daily life (but post 911, it is very much apart of the global villages psyche). I am from the sacred lands of the Pacific Northwest. The last of the wild west where the pioneer's dreams of freedom & open space still exist to some extent. I play my role in being active in the community & world community I live in & ya know...I strive to be even more relaxed. That is the goal, no? Let go of stress, anger, judgement, contempt, seperateness, ...& realize our commonality. I would hate to see a future Earth that had the opposite goal!
Speaking of 911 & terrorism, when I arrived here early December '06 there were warnings by the Israeli government intelligence that Al Queada has threatened to attack Goa due to it's high volume of Israeli & other 'non-believers' here. The did attack a nightclub in Bali a few years ago, but I feel like this threat is a hoax by the Israeli government to get young Israeli deserters back to their homeland & back in the army!
As for the Russians...I only met two the entire 5 weeks in Goa. They were two beautiful 30-something ladies that sold the most dee-lish chocolate cheesecake every night at the Pyramids beach bar. Lovely sweet ladies (even sweeter cake!) who told me that Russians are so cold because of the cold communist government that programmed them to be that way...and perhaps the weather & geograpically isolated location as well. Being so isolated, you don't have to relate to a dozen other nationalities daily like Europeans. I wait, I met a third who was an extremely gorgeous blonde my age that I invited to my last music event but did not see her again. I will remember that smile though! May all Russians warm their hearts, soften their minds & smile like these 3 beauties!
Many new health problems to discover & "learn" from here in the poorer & more tropical parts of the world.
My third day in Goa I noticed that my nose was swelling. After 5 days of watching it grow bigger & swell up my eyes & giving headaches, I decided to see a ENT specialist. He diagnosed it as a Furuncle infection & said I am lucky I didn't wait til it reached my brain. I took antibiotics (1st time in Dharamsala for travellers diarrhea/flu, now a 2nd time) & it went down after a few days.
During my 5 weeks here I decided to finally get my Earth symbolic tattoo on my upper left arm in 3 sessions by this amazing Italian artist Enrico (charges half price cost back home). I co-designed with him a piece on my upper arm that is a lotus flower with earth continents, flower of life, water, & light beams. It is nice to finally get this body art done (5 years i've been thinking about it), but I must say that the beach is no place to get tattoos. You have to stay out of the sun each session for 2 weeks, & out of the water for 1 week. So...I only had 2 weeks of my 5 where I could swim. Next time I'll wait til a cold rainy winter Vancouver week to get a tattoo (I have one left to get on my right arm, AIR symbols containing the Haida Pacific NW black/red animal art of the Eagle, Raven, & Hummingbird in harmony with black air spirals & a non-traditional approach surrounding them. Hope to get when i go to Haida Gwaii, aka Queen Elizabeth Island from a native Haida tattoo artist). Now, my last days in Goa I received a very unpleasant red swollen rash on my groin that continued to spread around my belly.
Yikes! The doctor here said not to worry, "it's just an allergy", but...kind of bad timing for I am now off to a Zen 7 day retreat, and already underslept from the mayhem of last minute things here, packing, & such. My friend says this may last 10-14 days & could be a poison plant like poison ivy? At least I didn't fall off of a motorcycle or scooter like many dozens of people I encountered. I rented a scooter & drove one hour to a secluded beach further up north with a gang of 5 motorcyclist (I was the little guy on the scooter, they had the big bikes). It was nice being in the remote beach, but the roads were soooo bad & full of potholes, & the crazy Indian hectic driving even worse. After that...I mostly stayed at Arambol beach the entire 5 weeks. Well, I did go to the Saturday night market twice which is an incredibly colorful affair with live music til 2am, hundreds of vendors, not just typical Indian 'seen it before' items, but handcrafted original clothes, jewelry & such from the foreigner travelers & Goa immigrants. I also went for a long cycle ride with my good friend Sivadas from McLoed Ganj who took me to see Old Goa, ancient Catholic ruins from the 16th century & a massive church that's holding up good for 500 years old. It was nice hanging out with Sivadas again. Hung out with him & other new friends for NYE celebrations at the Pyramids. Oh yeah. The "White Pyramids" is a tiki lounge beach bar & restaurant run by Austrian runaways Andy & Max. I played music there four times over the weeks. I dj'd reggae, dub, & global beats, including the launching of my new project BiOniC LoVe SoUnD SySteM, which I played a mini 30 minute original set with live congas, tabla, me & German mc on the mic. Andy & Max said the show was one of the best ever. Over 100 people dancing up a storm almost my whole 4 hour set. Good times...and I even got paid 1000 Rupees each show (uhhh...that's really only $25, but buys 8-10 meals here!).
Well, all this time in Goa & no wild trance parties for me. I had the most musical inspiration at Pyramids watching live sufi persian
4 piece band with dulcimer, persian sitar, doumbek & arabic percussion, vocals, & a belly sufi dancer. They were amazing!
I'm doing a remix of one of their songs now. Loving the Persian dulcimer at the moment. Such a mystical instrument.
Goodbye Goa...thanks for everything!