This IS hard work but .. SOMEONE HAS GOT TO DO IT!
It is a bit of a struggle to go back and recapture the days since I left off because we are presently in a tropical paradise, literally … but, I digress … back to “catching up” …
We were up and ready to meet Jeevan at our hotel in Agra Cantt at 5:30 a.m. on January the 8th. He had arranged for an auto rickshaw to take the three of us and our luggage to catch a 7 a.m. bus to Delhi. Jeevan is so reliable we had expected him to be early. He was not. He was still not there by 5:37 and after an attempted, unanswered call to him, we thought maybe he was oversleeping, or ??? We just hoped he was okay.
We left with the ricksha driver Jeevan had ordered for us. Part way to the bus station (about a 30 minute trip), Jeevan called. He had gotten to the hotel, found that we had left and insisted on taking another rickshaw to yet be with us as we waited for our bus. When Jeevan joined us, he explained that his delay was due to a three truck accident in dense fog. Our bus came as scheduled, we boarded, and, waving to Jeevan, we were off for Delhi at 7:04 a.m.
Once on the road, we were also in VERY dense fog. We were sitting fairly close to the front of the bus, and looking out the front window we could not imagine how the driver was able to see or to drive safely. We saw eight or ten multi-vehicle accidents along the way, cars, trucks and buses strewn all over the highway. Fortunately, we were able to work our way around them and proceed each time. We were greatly relieved to arrive in Delhi unscathed and safe back at the YMCA hotel.
We had a delicious late lunch at the hotel and then I regrouped while Cap went out to do some running, changing some train reservations, etc. We only stayed Friday night and then were out of the hotel at 5:15 a.m. the next morning (Feb. 9th) for a 6:20 a.m. train to Goa, our specific destination being Arambol Beach in the state of Goa.
On the train, we settled into our private, first class A/C, very comfortable compartment and were off on yet another adventure. Did we ever ‘luck out’. Even First A/C has many four passenger compartments. However there are a few ‘Coupe’ compartments for just two travelers and we were assigned one such ‘Coupe’. The below photos show our very own private room for two!
We had a nice closet to hang things had we so wished.Looking out of our door into the hallway corridor. Our closet is on the left and the upper bunk on the top right.Below is the hallway corridor. The compartments are on the right.Coming out of Delhi, we could see the usual litter and garbage all over the place, and the shacks, tents, and hovels along the train tracks. The landscape gradually transformed into beautiful, manicured farmland, guarded over by “scarecrows” made of mostly white strips of cloth. The “housing” became sod huts, some shacks with tin roofs held down with about eight inch diameter rocks, crude stucco very small houses, and again, some tents.Coming upon an irrigation canal along the way, there were two people washing vegetables (looked like foot-long white radishes to me) while a third person was skimming scum and trash out of the water.
The train stopped there briefly (no station, just country side) and one of the vegetable washers grabbed a bunch of the “radishes” and sold them to some of the passengers. Ummm, we did not buy any.
Having slept well through the night in our private, comfy, compartment on our bunk beds, we had a nice omelet and bread breakfast delivered to us … and sped on along the rails. At one station where we stopped, a flatbed train came in and stopped next to us. It was “loaded” with large trucks, drivers intact, for as far as you could see.
Disembarking in Pernem, we got a taxi for the 30 minute drive to Arambol Beach. I had heard a LOT from Cap about how much he loved his seven weeks in this area in late 2011, early 2012, but this surpassed any of my expectations. We were driving through a virtual tropical paradise, not much litter or garbage, lots of palm trees, flowers, and other tropical vegetation. As we drove through the one-lane village of Arambol (the road occupied mostly by people on foot and scooters), there were colorful shops on both sides full of local wares.
Cap had told the cab driver we wanted to go to the Vegetarian Restaurant, a landmark he remembered. There were numerous restaurants along the way and almost all featured that they were vegetarian! We got to a dead end and Cap had the driver go back about half a block. Having gotten his bearings, Cap disappeared. He had been in contact with the landlady (Matilda) where he stayed previously, but had had no success with getting any commitment from her that she would have a room available. Cap came back up the dirt passageway with thumbs up. Matilda not only had a room for us, but it turned out to be THE VERY SAME ROOM Cap had been in when he first arrived to rent from her in 2011.
There is also a nice garden in front of our porch with beautiful flowers, lots of vegetation, many palm and other trees, populated by a number of birds serenading us, and a clothesline where we can hang clothes that we have washed.
A clothesline may seem like nothing to brag about, but after hanging clothes all over hotel rooms, it is a biggie! I’ve been talking about “the room” … actually, we have rooms: we also have a small kitchen with sink, refrigerator, hot plate and dishes and pans, AND a bathroom. Settling in, I thought I might have died and gone to heaven!
Since arriving, we have walked the “town” main “thoroughfare” and a good stretch of the beach. We have had some fantastic meals and gotten in a few groceries. One of our favorite restaurants is right on the beach.
Last Monday we took a long walk .. about four kilometers .. around the town of Arambol Beach. We passed a small beauty salon and Cap asked me if I wanted to get my hair cut. I said that would be fine and into Sarah’s Salon I went.
As soon as I sat down, I was confident Sarah knew what she was doing. She started talking about my hair being layered and asked if that was how I wanted it cut. She proceeded and I sat back and enjoyed the treat!
When Sarah finished I asked her the cost. I nearly fell down when she said it would be 200 Indian Rupees! Translated this is U.S. Dollars $3.07!
The drummers Cap wrote about in 2011-12 are still out on the beach every night at sunset. The people are very warm and laid back, many hippie types, and lots of visitors from Europe and the States. It IS a resort town, dependent largely upon tourists during their high season of about December through February, with some regulars coming back each year also for the months on both sides of those just mentioned. One of the locals said to us, “You are visitors. We want you to enjoy your time here. We are Indian. Welcome.” Like Cap, I LOVE ARAMBOL! We will be here until the 26th, 27th or 28th. We DO have a train to catch out of the capitol of Goa on the 28th to go to Chennai and then a bus to Pondicherry.
Meanwhile, back to the birds, the tropical vegetation, the good food, the beach. See y’all later!
Smiles from Patti and from Cap!
- JAN 7, 16 .. AGRA CANTT .. INDIA ..
- JAN 25, 16 .. ARAMBOL BEACH .. PATTI