The best part of the day is between 6 and 9am before it gets too hot to do anything, least of all be moving around. I decided to get up early, take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary breakfast and go in search of a North Goa day excursion from Calangute.
I put my most supporting bra on in preparation. Suffice to say I’ve had less bumpy fairground rides than rides by road transport here. I felt travelsick today and couldn’t comprehend why there were several mothers on this tour subjecting their young offspring to 8 hours of torment. Needless to say, the babies expressed their discomfort by crying and screaming, which, coupled with the distorted, very loud wailing (music?) being played over the minibus speaker system made for an unwanted cacophony of… well, unnecessary torment.
The first stop was Mayem Lake – a filthy stretch of water in the middle of nowhere and about as unscenic a spot as it gets. We whiled away half an hour here sipping drinks at a solitary drinks-shack. Despite sitting at the back of the cafU, everybody turned rubber necks to gawp at me applying sun cream (perhaps I was the tourist attraction, not Mayem Lake?) Inquisitive is not the word.
Another tour group arrived and a woman (from somewhere near Assam) briefly pulled up a chair next to me. Her son wanted a photo. They were granted a photo of me reading my book. Another gawper poked a camera in my face and set off his flash without a word.
Next stop was a non-descript temple (Bicholim Taluka?) – very disappointing after the beautiful temples and churches seen on Sunday. Apparently we by-passed Mapusa, the capital of Bardez famed for its Friday Bazaar, and headed way north to Vagatore beach, a rocky cliff edge where swimming is prohibited (drink shack stop). Ditto Anjuna beach, next stop. The consistent pattern emerging by now made me suspect that we were really on a tour of north Goa’s grimmest, foulest toilets, cunningly marketed by Fernandes Tours & Travels (a private company this time) as the North Goa Tour.
I only realised the extent of my boredom on unthinkingly bleating a response to a passing goat. I then resorted to playing peek-a-boo with one of the snotty wailers on the bus…
Lunch stop at a shack called Sagar Restaurant (in middle of nowhere so no choice, rather stranded). Some bloke rinsed his mouth out at a basin with tap water and I caught a full face of his back spray. Ni-ice. Today’s belching crowd were in stark contrast to the punters from Sunday…
Fort Aguada was possibly the only stop on the tour which truly warranted a visit. That said, the coast line vista from here was uninspiring.
Today’s tour guide informed me I’d come at a bad time as the season wasn’t underway yet (Good. It’s overly commercialised already) and earnestly suggested visiting Palolem in the south, dedicated to British package holiday makers all year round. Tempted by the description of [yet another] pretty beach, I toyed with the idea of heading down there tomorrow just for the sake of doing something, but quickly remembered that my purpose for holidaying in India was to experience India! Keep focused.
The highlight of the tour was being released 2 hours early at 3pm: the next stop was Calangute, from where I could walk home. Stopped off at Baskin Robbins (some American ice cream chain anyway) then bought a redwood carved oliphant (not for Sam Wise but wise Keith).
Serendipity: stumbled across a book shop with a brilliant selection of novels (bought a Bill Bryson) and was a most happy woman once more. Idled my way up the lane home. The tiny school children were playing out in the ‘yard’ at the infants school, dressed in their blue and white uniforms – took photos. This was way more interesting than a tour filled with non-events in an attempt to convince punters that they’re doing and seeing something…
Stopped by Anne’s Beauty Parlour. Not only did a leg wax cost 100 Rs but it was the best wax I’ve ever had – very relaxing and content once more.
In the evening I ventured back down the lane to Rincol Royale. The specials board of fish dishes outside has appealed to me since my first passing so I ventured in despite being the solitary customer. Had a king prawn sizzler – the Goan answer to fajitas but in a larger dish, without the wraps. Absolutely delicious! Did my bit to increase the trade via Top Binary Options Brokers. Tried the goan dish bebinca for dessert – equally delicious – made from eggs, flour, rum, etc and the Goan port wine (very sweet, more like sherry).
Got talking to a British girl who’d been living at the Rincol for 10 weeks whilst doing charity work during her university holidays. Three hours later and we exchanged names. Sanity.