10.11.2011 - 28.12.2011 32 °C
Day 42: Benaulim, Goa 10/11/11
We wake up fairly early for our last morning in Panjim and again I visit the gym next door. I am not quite as sweaty as my previous session, a sure indication that I am much fitter after one session and am re-approaching the levels of Daley Thompson fitness and charisma I held prior to leaving the UK.
We catch the bus to Margao to catch another bus to the coastal village of Benaulim further to the south. Whilst at Margao bus station we catch a glimpse of the Fatorda Stadium and briefly relive yesterday’s cameo…
The bus to Benaulim is, of course, busy, sweaty and bustling, full of women returning home from the market laden with fish, vegetables and fabrics. We alight in Benaulim and our first impressions are of a small, friendly, relaxed town – a perfect match for what we were seeking after the busy(ish) Panjim and the chaotic Baga.
Find a room at the Max Guest House on account of its name and are blown over by the huge, clean and remarkably cheap (400 rupees a night) double ensuite with a kitchen area.
We head for lunch at a family run place, where we are served by Ria, the charming three year old waitress. This is followed by a stroll to the beach and with my foot healing nicely I am excited at the prospect of some quality beach time. In this excitement I fail to look where I am going and my foot ploughs straight into the sleeping policeman and the end of my toe is shortened somewhat. Sickening to be so close yet so far as my left foot pisses blood, a sure fire way to ensure some more medical attention by Nurse Cribbin is necessary.
We have a drink in a beach side shack, head back to dress the injuries and are delighted to see a week old piglet running free in the garden of the guest house. That elusive bacon sandwich seems a touch closer during the night…
Day 43: Benaulim, Goa 11/11/11
A lie in and some breakfast and we are ready for a day at the beach! Over breakfast I enquire into the whereabouts of the nearest gym and receive directions from the friendly three year old waitress from yesterday.
Arrive at the beach and realise just how much we love this place already – the beach is wide, golden and sandy, with very few people on it, which makes it even better. We set up camp at a quiet little beach shack, enjoy their sunloungers and their beer and cocktail menu. Bliss, although with two dressed feet the sea proceeds to tease with some enticing waves.
Head back to Max’s, shower and realise we have most definitely caught the sun today! We eat at a place called L’Amour, where the vindaloo is not quite as fiery as one would think. Am engrossed in my new book ‘Gang Leader For A Day’.
Day 44: Benaulim, Goa 12/11/11
Wake up a little groggy after a few too many beers on the balcony! We take a leisurely stroll and find the gym, enquire about membership, and on account of Max’s being full from the 16th onwards, we search for some more accommodation. There is some incredible stuff at some incredible prices. Find one with a puppy, which Gemma wants to steal.
We meet our new neighbour, Ian a Scottish guy in his mid-fifties before heading back to the shack on the beach for some food and a few 40p rum and cokes. Bliss. Head to a rooftop restaurant for some food and buy a pricey bottle of rum and some coke. We then sit out and play cards with a few drinks. A strange sound fills the air and Ian runs out of his room, trousers round his ankles and clutching his throat. Extremely scary stuff and the Heimlich manoeuvre runs through our heads. Luckily he is OK but a fright nonetheless.
Day 45: Benaulim, Goa 13/11/11
Head back to the beach again for another day of perfection. Gemma was not 100% again this morning but we head out for the day. With a physical NEED to go in the sea we devise a way for me to keep my wounds dressed and allow me to swim. Using a pair of marigolds, we cut the thumb off and stretch over my damaged toe and to cover the other foot we cut the arm off the glove and use as a sort of sock. Despite looking like something out of Stingray, the new look allows me to hire a boogie board and not have to look longingly at the sea. Needless to say the rubber broke and the toe sock cut all the blood off to my toe, causing numbness.
We head out for dinner at a very nice looking restaurant where unfortunately the food didn’t quite hit the same heights. Some more cards then bed after a fairly uneventful day.
Day 46: Benaulim, Goa 14/11/11
Join the local gym at the Benaulim Community Centre, where my monthly membership costs me 600 rupees. Very basic gym but good enough for me but find it bizarre that trainers are to be left at the door. Not even Globogym has rules that strange.
After searching for new accommodation we learn we can stay at Max until the 30th November – perfect. Back to the beach (soft drinks only now I have been to the gym) and try the frogman look out again using the other rubber glove. Again it fails epically. An odd Russian couple at the beach pose as for a sleazy photoshoot up against an old fishing boat. Highly amusing stuff.
We go for the rooftop restaurant again, which tonight is full of Brummies. I try my hand at giving Gemma a henna tattoo again but it is awful, confirming that the good one I did once was a fluke.
Day 47: Benaulim, Goa 15/11/11
Go to the gym first thing, shoeless of course. Breakfast on the balcony, then we decide to rent some bicycles and ride down to Colva, the next village over, in search of a decent wi-fi connection. Gemma had a nice, new, shiny purple bike, I had no such luck and ended up with a rickety old rust bucket that I thought might fall apart at any moment.
No joy on the wi-fi front but we spend the day at the beach in Colva, which is nice but not as nice as Benaulim beach. The guy that served us in the shack we used was adamant that he knew us but we could not think why or how he could. Nevertheless he lent us the shack’s full size surfboard which we took full advantage of.
Went to the internet café (after seemingly spending all day previously there!) and the excitement of the gym, the bike ride and the sea hit us and we were dead on our feet. Dinner then early bed.
Day 48: Benaulim, Goa 16/11/11
Sleep well after yesterday’s fun but I wake up with a head cold. Gemma kindly tends to me, emerging from the shop with ginger, lemon and honey tea, some lemsip style pills and a heap of love and makes me feel much better.
We head to the beach to find the shack has put a big electric sign up – progress. A very lazy day ensues.
Day 49: Benaulim, Goa 17/11/11
Gemma’s efforts make me feel much better and I head to the gym for a morning workout. Gemma has breakfast laid out on the balcony for my return – she knows how to spoil me. We head to the beach a bit earlier than previously and find it is much hotter than when we go slightly later in the day. Gemma has forgotten to sun cream up and we head back to the room.
We have a very lazy afternoon reading our books on the balcony. Life is good. The Max Guesthouse resident dog takes a tour of the place and for a change of scenery decides to have a little lie down in our room. Gemma walks into the room later to find him asleep down the side of our bed. Cheeky get.
Dinner is good in a small place and Gemma is entertained by a tiny kitten in the restaurant. She pleads with me to let her keep it but I have to put my foot down and say no. This wins few friends.
Day 50: Benaulim, Goa 18/11/11
Well, I have two bits of advice for all the kids reading. Firstly, don’t eat yellow snow, which is generally considered a fairly standard and solid word of guidance. Secondly, if you ever come across a Chinese made kettle element attached to a plug and called a ‘coffee maker’ do not buy it and more importantly do not use it.
Gemma kindly tried to make me a cup of tea, using the new water boiling contraption. Sat outside on the balcony I hear a hearty bang, ‘Tom!’ and Gemma panicking somewhat. Go in to find a smoking bit of electrical junk, which promptly bursts into flames. A quick rescue, a blown fuse and a candle lit shower later we head to the beach. Another tough day for the traveller follows. A very Indian tea tonight of pizza and pasta. Very nice.
Day 51: Benaulim, Goa 19/11/11
Head to Margao to book train tickets to Hampi and then on to the next Sporting Goa game. Get into the ground a little bit closer to kick off this week but still early enough to enjoy the excellent pre match entertainment. Naturally, Zumba the lion was in good form but the troop of African dancers from Kenya flip, dance and balance their way into our hearts, especially given the entertainment of last week’s game. One of the dancers could fold his body up on itself, having the ability to do press-ups with his ankles round his ears. Scary stuff.
The game is better this week, with Sporting running out 2-0 winners. We get a wave and a mention from the MC this week, but he drew the line at asking us to dance like the Nairobi boys, which was lucky.
The bus ride back to Benaulim was hell, with at least thirty people too many crammed into the body of the vehicle. Jostled by the crowd and unable to stand up straight due to the height of the bus’ roof one was not comfortable. Gemma finds herself a seat, sitting on the engine at the front of the bus. Why was it hot she asks? Maybe somebody used a ‘coffee maker’ there last week…
Day 52: Benaulim, Goa 20/11/11
Sunday so the gym is not open but we take the opportunity to get on Skype and talk to the folks back home. We decide to try to find somewhere with wi-fi and troop down the beach in search of an elusive wireless network. It ends up with us running to the internet café next door to us to give us a nice early sweat and sheen. Spend quite a bit of time in there speaking to anyone with a webcam and the will to listen. Ends up with me getting restless, hungry and bored so I head for a shower. Sorry Gemma.
Get to dinner and watch the Liverpool Chelsea game, with Glen Johnson popping up with a great winner. All quiet at the Bridge!
Day 53: Benaulim, Goa 21/11/11
Get talking to the guy who works at the gym, who is a cricket fan, Rahul Dravid fanatic and avid viewer of WWE, which he informs me is not real fighting. WWF on the other hand is real fighting he tells me and I do not have the heart to say anything. He also collects coins and gives me a lucky 10 rupee coin.
Back to the ranch where Gemma discovers a litter of puppies next door. She is straight round to see them and when the owner says she can have one she starts to get a bit excited…
Baby animals in the vicinity include piglets, puppies, kittens, chicks and calves. Gemma wants to adopt them all. Huge tandoori platter for me, Gemma has a good spag bol.
Day 54: Benaulim, Goa 22/11/11
Quick gym session and give the manager a few English coins in return for the lucky 10 rupee one he gave to me. We visit the puppies next door before heading to the beach. A change of route is required due to needing to take some glass bottles to the restaurant we got them from. The new route takes us down a long, deserted straight road where there are mountains of fish being dried in the sun. Being a fish lover Gemma naturally loved this and proceeded to very maturely make reference to the smell that lingered around them…
Day 55: Benaulim, Goa 23/11/11
Gemma wakes me up with a tray of breakfast – omelette (spicy), orange juice, cereal and a croissant for her to celebrate 5 years together. What’s more is she adds a small bottle of Indian made ‘Champagne method’ bubbly to make it even better. Good girl!
Fairly uneventful day from there – I visit the gym, we have lunch and head to the shack for some more beach action. We have some very good food at Luna Italian restaurant – the main menu does not kick in until next week but the pizzas are outstanding.
Day 56: Benaulim, Goa 24/11/11
Wrote this entry into the diary a week later as I had left a gap. As a result, memories of the exact happenings on this day are a little hazy but as an educated guess I went to the gym, we went for lunch before venturing to the shack on the beach where I spent some time in the sea. We may well have then gone for an extremely nice, extremely well priced dinner.
Day 57: Benaulim, Goa 25/11/11
Happy birthday Anne! Quick gym session (now looking like Ronnie Coleman), breakfast and we are away. For the second time we decide to hire some bikes for the day and turn right at the crossroads to a place we have never been before. It is very hot going and Benaulim’s slightly touristy centre becomes more and more local, with wedding dress shops, family run supermarkets and some very local looking bars the norm. We hang a right and end up on some very deserted road well off the beaten track before ending up at the gates to a very swanky looking hotel resort. Dead end it seems. Ring Anne to wish a Happy Birthday.
After some much needed drinks we head to the beach, both a little bit saddle sore. We head for dinner and engage with a little too much rum on the balcony.
Day 58: Benaulim, Goa 26/11/11
Wake up still feeling a little the worse for last night’s rum. Foolishly decide a few beers with brunch would help. How wrong I was!
A bit worse for wear so Gemma looks after me. She gets lunch sorted before encouraging me to go to sleep for a couple of hours.
We head for dinner and have a good meal which helps us along with the aid of a couple of Kingfishers. Sit and watch the football, unfortunately surrounded by a Birmingham City fan and a Villa fan. Gemma heads back, I have one or two for the road and am well and truly ready for bed at this point!
Day 59: Benaulim, Goa 27/11/11
Wake up hanging! Gemma is less than sympathetic to say the least and I head down to take the washing to Annie. She tells me that it will be ready for 8pm tomorrow. I meet Gemma on the beach and we sit there talking until the sun sets. We head for tea and I try to detox. Oh, the life of the international globetrotting drunk!
Day 60: Benaulim, Goa 28/11/11
Our last day in the lovely town of Benaulim sees one of us still worse for wear after the weekend. Said person visits gym to try to fully sweat it out. I also receive my second haircut of the trip. An improvement on the first but I should hope so at 50 rupees.
Excitingly, we head for lunch at a place we have never tried and try a dish we have never tried before (Tibetan Momos). These turn out to be very nice, like Chinese dumplings but a bit lighter and the first (and probably last) beef we have had in India. The Goans are very different to the other Indians we have encountered on the trip.
We buy some little trinket souvenirs and make some beautifully home made Christmas cards before we decide to head to the beach shack for the last time. It is extremely windy on the beach and the sea is rather choppy with a rip tide that makes it impossible to get past your thighs in the water. These conditions conspire to make it seem more Bude than Benaulim. We say goodbye to our friends at the shack and head back to shower and pick up the washing. In true Annie style she has not touched our washing yet, but on account of our early exit tomorrow, she promises to have it done by 6am.
We go to sample the Italian menu at the open air Luna restaurant and have sat down and ordered when Tropical Storm Billy arrives and there is a mad scramble to erect a makeshift tarpaulin shelter in the dark of the powercut. Gemma gets soaked but the tagliatelle is divine.