Paradise Found

CottageI wake today, once again, to ocean waves crashing on the shore and birds chirping. You “dropped” me in India based on the theme of a Disney movie and it sort of feels like I’m in one . . . but there’s a bar! As this location was decided based on the movie, Jungle Book, I must say that I think I finally found the location. While I was hoping to see tigers in Rathembore National Park, it was still desert area. This is the jungle thus, it seems like the true setting for Jungle Book.

I didn’t sleep very well, which is mainly due to my own back issues (too many years of hard living) combined with the firmness of Indian mattresses in general (the term ‘hard as a rock’ comes to mind). Oh, my back might feel better if I could find some yoga, I’ve been a fairly regular practitioner for fifteen years and was excited to take a few classes in India, the birthplace of yoga; but I’m finding that Indians are yoga snobs. Many I’ve met tell me they practice it but nobody has been able to refer me to a class. I’ve been asked what kind I usually do and explained my regular instructor’s training, yet how he doesn’t like to label it.

“It’s a good workout,” I say.

I explain that he uses no music and that he concentrates on form and technique, which I really like, but am open to anything as I’d love to know other forms and simply to experience yoga in India. The response I received from one person (who was a private instructor) was, “Americans, they don’t understand real yoga.”

I wanted to understand, but the conversation ended there.

Unfortunately, the masseuse at Dwarka, who is also the yoga instructor, is back home right now having a baby or taking care of his sick father or something. Really? Don’t matter?

I get dressed, which means throwing on my bathing suit and a cover-up (no shoes today because, why bother?) and walk down the path to breakfast. This morning I choose a cheese omelet (just a little tired of the Indian staple of a masala omelet), toast (which means a warmed, flat, bun-like roll), and fruit. Oh, and coffee from the French press.

KayakAfter a kayak ride down the lagoon and into the jungle, as well as some time spent having fun being knocked around by the crashing waves and strong under-toe of the Arabian Sea, I spend some watching Russians take photos of themselves and each other. Goa has become a vacation hotspot for Russians and, while some beaches in North Goa are known as the “Russian Beaches,” some appear to have migrated south to the hut-resort (not nearly as nice as Dwarka) across the lagoon. What’s weird is that the Russians who visit Goa are known to spend the majority of their day posing for photos. The guys who work at Dwarka tell me they sell them somewhere, but they’re not sure where. My guess is they’re sold to some of the “Russian Bride” websites where western men find themselves a cute, beach-bumming Ruskie, fly them over, and discover that the girl walking off the airplane looks more like Boris Yeltsin than Anna Kornikova. We all have a good laugh when one of the random waves from this rare high-tide sweeps up from behind to soak their discarded beach clothes while they’re busy being posers.

I spend some of the afternoon fighting with my computer and its currently non-working space bar, as well as the unreliable WiFi. I write one article and publish another before the WiFi goes down for the rest of the day. Still, I understand that you don’t come to Dwarka for the WiFi.

LunchAfter lunch, with the lack of WiFi providing a great excuse not to work, I decide it’s the perfect afternoon to catch up on my reading. I lay in a hammock in front of my cottage, on the edge of the lagoon, put on some music, pull out my Kindle and finish reading the book Wild, about one woman’s journey, both physical and spiritual, along the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s the perfect book for this part of my journey and I completely relate to her trials, tribulations, and triumphs.

I watch the long sunset through the netting of my hammock. The sun is a brilliant orange, ball in the sky. It’s beautiful, though I’m fully aware that part of what makes it visually stunning is the filter of pollution through which I’m watching it. It reminds me of an Arizona sunset when the wildfires are burning. Once again, I never see the sun disappear below the horizon, as it disappears long before it sinks that low. The locals will tell you, “it’s clouds,” but, in reality, it’s the constant haze which hangs over India due to the pollution.

HammockI head into my cottage for a cool shower, wash the sand out of my bits and pieces, and nooks and crannies, condition my hair (aahhh) and put on a pair of shorts. This is the first time I’ve worn shorts since arriving in India (or, for that matter, since leaving the U.S. in December). As this is a beach area, it’s okay to dress less modestly than you would up north. I walk down the lit path to dinner. Besides a small part of a bridal party which will be dining here tonight, I’m the only person at dinner, as the one other couple staying here has a case of Indian stomach and will not be eating.

I order up some chicken and veggies, which is served with roti (an Indian flatbread) and lentils. I have another glass of Uraak, the local hootch, and watch wedding planners hound the staff in order to ensure that everything is perfect.

Feeling drowsy from a relaxing day, I grab a glass of scotch and head to my cottage early to drink it. I read (Vanity Fair magazine on my iPad this time), listen to music accompanied by crashing waves in the near distance, and fall asleep on my hard, Indian mattress.

Tomorrow, a change of hotels as I leave paradise to check out other parts pf Goa.

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