I am literally the only person in the whole of Goa who insists on wearing a helmet whilst on a scooter. True story. It’s not like the helmet in question would offer any manner of protection if I did fall off, it’s a flimsy, cracked thing and I’ve seen better quality head gear in the Halloween section at Poundland. Buuuut I can’t bring myself to not wear it, y’know, just in case. So on day three we finally got around to renting our death trap on account of the fact it’s the done thing in Goa and if you don’t do it at least once people will look at you funny and judge you a little bit, and here’s a fun fact; Renting a scooter when you have the balance of a badger on ketamine pretty much ranks in the top four of shit you probably shouldn’t do in a country where “road rules” are more “road suggestions.” I took it for a little spin to get used to it before Tarrant got on the back and it turns out I find scooters quite difficult to control. They don’t seem to like cornering. I swear if it were sentient and had eyes it’d roll them every time I tried to coax it round a bend. And that lever by my left hand? Not a clutch. Nope. That’s a brake. There isn’t a clutch on a scooter because there are no fucking gears, and no gears means there’s no biting point, and no biting point means I have absolutely no idea how to do any manner of slow control type things on this bastard and it’s not like I’m brilliant at slow control on a geared bike either. I genuinely think that the dude who granted me my license must have been on crack.
So at junctions when I had to slow down I resorted to sticking my legs out each side in a misguided attempt to balance the machine and looking around at the other foreigners on scooters, they were pretty much doing the same thing. This somehow didn’t make me feel any better. I wondered if I was going to finish today with all of my skin where I left it. Ah well, what doesn’t kill you will only give you a nervous breakdown or maybe mangle your body parts and, with Tarrant perched on the back, we made our way north to check out some beaches. The first place we ended up was Morjim where I discovered that I actually really really enjoy lying on a sunbed whilst people bring me things to put in my facehole. I’m starting to wonder if I’m more of a princess than I like to admit. The little restaurants along the beach will either let you use their beds for free if you eat their food, or they charge you a couple of hundred rupees. It’s awesome. We whiled away the time, punctuating our ocean frolicking antics with juices and iced teas brought to us at our beds. I’m not gonna lie, I could get way too used to this. I may set up a lounger under a sunlamp back home, surround it with inflatable palm trees and try and get Tarrant to bring me stuff. I’m not sure how well this suggestion will go down though. I may end up wearing the lamp.
Anyway, after another quick pit stop at another restaurant on another beach because our lives are so fucking hard, we ended up in Arambol which is the epicentre of hippiness in India. Like, I have never seen so many hippies in one place at one time and I’ve been to summer solstice at Stonehenge. We wandered up the beach as people meditated, did yoga, sculpted sand or practiced tricks with their tool of choice. What is it with hippies and circus tricks? Why is twirling a firestick or playing with poi synonymous with wearing colourful, baggy trousers and smoking weed? Basically, ever single cliche you could think of was on the beach that evening and as the sun started to set a group of people started up the nightly drumming circle and a line was formed by the shoreline as people set up what seemed to be little stalls.
I loved Arambol and was a bit sad we weren’t spending a couple of nights there but Tarrant hates hippies (despite being able to juggle with fire and actually do poi without smacking herself around the back of the head which is usually how my attempts end) so she was glad we were down in Anjuna. I’m a closet hippy though. The only reason I don’t wear the clothes is because my love of practical trousers with lots of pockets outweighs my attraction to ridiculously comfortable purple attire. I used to own several throw-overs emblazoned with Oms which I also used as wall hangings and everything I owned smelled faintly of incense. I’m pretty sure I even at one point owned a second hand woolly jumper that I purchased from a car boot sale. Yep, twelve years ago I could have out-hippied this lot, hands down.
The thing with hanging around a beach until sunset, it then means you have to get home in the dark. I was well chuffed to learn that not only were we in possession of a scooter with a headlight but that the headlight actually functioned. I got the scooter out of the carpark, Tarrant jumped on the back, we rode to the end of the road aaaaand then a car wanted to get in whilst another wanted to get out and neither could do anything until I shifted. I couldn’t go anywhere but forwards, weaving between the cars, so I did that and I think I panicked a bit and ended up gripping the accelerator tighter which resulted in twisting it and basically, well, I nearly drove into a shop. I remembered to brake in time but I think I might have given the poor guy a heart attack because my heart was certainly doing everything it could to try and break through my ribs, probably to give me a good bollocking. But yeah, that happened, and we still had to get back to Anjuna, in the dark, and it turns out that despite the headlight switching on and producing light it was still all but fucking useless. Seriously. We might as well have had a team of goblins perched on the handlebars frantically lighting matches. I might have been able to see more.
It was a tense four hours. Or what seemed like four hours. It was probably less than an hour in actual proper reality and it didn’t help that neither of us had a fucking clue which way was home was and it’s impossible to map read when you’re hanging off the back of a scooter praying to whatever god would take pity on two tourists dumb enough to not only rent a death trap but to try and get it from one place to another at night when everybody in the whole of north Goa was trying to do the same thing. But we made it back, physically in one piece, but I’d probably have to walk back along the route the following day to retrieve the fragments of my shattered nerves.
But nothing relieves trauma like dead stuff wrapped in bread and slathered with condiments. It’s a scientific fact. Burger Factory was at the end of our road and I’d not had dead cow since England. Turns out that beef is very much on the menu in the Christian state of Goa and I think I love the Portuguese a little bit for that, and I love Burger Factory even more for simply existing. We take burgers seriously in Brighton. It’s a thing. Almost as much of a thing as the Sunday Roast. The guy who runs it also takes burgers very seriously and doesn’t like people changing his ideas so if you don’t like beetroot then, well, that’s just tough titties, sweetheart. Choose a different burger. He believes that his combinations are not to be fucked with but he grudgingly let Tarrant try the burger she wanted without the evil root leaking red juice all over her food because she told him she was allergic. Wish I’d thought of that. It was a fucking good burger though, I’m not gonna lie, if you’re ever in Anjuna you should definitely try stuffing one of these bad boys into your facehole.
So on day four we were gonna rent the scooter again, check out the Wednesday flea market then ride as far south as we could in 90 minutes and meander back via whatever beaches took our fancy buuuuut my bowels had other ideas. They were playing up a bit the previous day so I’d plugged up with some anti-biotics and anti-shit tablets and I’d gotten through the day with my lower colon intact, but today? Nope. Revenge of the internal organs. We’re talking full on cramps, it felt like my guts had turned to knives. Tarrant even went out and brought me back some scrambled eggs on account of that being all I could even think about trying to keep in. We did try and make it to the flea market but I had to stop too often to double over in pain like the drama queen I am so we stumbled back home and that was pretty much our day which consisted of feeling very, very sorry for myself as everything I’d recently consumed seeped out through my arse in liquid form. Of all the times to get sick my body has to wait until the mrs is visiting. Tarrant reckons she was happy with a day in anyway, she’d managed to burn herself yesterday during the five minutes she spent between exiting the sea and reapplying suncream because she actually does have the skin of a ginger person. Fortunately there’s lots of bland Western food in Goa if your stomach ties itself into warning knots at the mere mention of a masala dosa so after a long nap we sourced some beans on toast for me to tentatively nibble on, watched a terrible Australian movie that was playing in a cafe and hoped that my intestines would hold out for the whole getting to Panjim thing that had to occur the following day.
Arambol, Goa, India
Stayed at: Evershine Guesthouse, Anjuna (Arambol is an easy day trip from Anjuna)