Pune, like Mumbai, is a big, ugly city and we made a fast exit (Mumbai was definitely more a rite of passage to be endured, rather than a pleasure). Our train ticket didn’t come through again so we booked a sleeper bus for the coastal province of Goa, a process that sounds deceivingly benign. With no western sense of privacy or order. , getting around in India by train and bus is taking a lot of effort, time, and patience, but we are managing. We have seen amazing sights and are now on a quest to find the quiet.
The morning we left Pune, Huggie was hit by the dreaded Delhi-belly. The diarrhea was a s__t storm (pun intended) and she immediately dosed up on Imodium. It worked wonderfully, but anticipating the 12 hour overnighter was a sobering proposition nevertheless. Fortunately, all went well. It was a surprisingly quiet ride and we would have slept if not for some crazy brain scrambling brought on by continuous travel over dirt tracks and large craters in the road.
We are now in the small coastal town of Anjuna where we have found the ocean, the tourists, and many of the worlds remaining dreadlocked hippie population. We are staying in a funky little room behind an open air restaurant, in the middle of a large market, that is right on the beach. It is not the secluded beach time of our dreams, but it’ll do for now. We will stay for a bit and rest our bones.
Yesterday Huggie rented a scooter (she is very competent on motorcycles) and we went to a gorgeous beach a few towns away. Imagine driving on the left side of the road, traffic and scooters coming at you from all angles, pedestrians everywhere, horns honking, and most important, avoiding the sacred cows who wander where and when they please, knowing they are the safest things on the road. It was like being in a real life video game, and through it all, Huggie remained highly focused, cool, and in control. I concentrated on helping with directions, reigning in my erupting expletives, and trying not to poo my pants.
On our way back we stopped at a small local joint for food where the waiter was attentive and adorable. I had the fish Thali (rice with curried fish and vegetables with spicy Indian pickle) and the flavours were so piquant and divine that every bite was a gastronomic pleasure (for about $2.40 Canadian). Huggie had palak paneer (a spicy creamed spinach and cheese soup with garlic naan) that was also amazing.
Driving back in the dark, I was both exhilarated and terrified. It was a fun day but I breathed a deep sigh of relief when we arrived back to our room safe and sound with all our parts intact. Now for the ongoing feat of trying to sleep through a chorus of birds squawking, dogs barking, music playing etc..