The day started out innocently enough. I decided to wander over to the beach area where on Friday I saw mass numbers of people hanging out on the beach. The beach was relatively empty though a few resort owners came out to shake my hand and introduce themselves as I walked by. Through conversations I found out that a group of six Canadians had just arrived, that “Tattoo” and “Charlie” were two dogs that wandered the beach, how to best fish given the current tides, and that there was a place that would arrange bus tours just up the beach.
It’s a funny little information network these Goan people have.
I found a little village shortly after and the gated “Goa Tourist Centre” where I could book bus/boat tours. In a relatively short period of time, I bartered, had breakfast, and booked myself on an ocean tour that was leaving that very second. The tour sounded interesting: South Goa, traditional dancing, and traditional music.
What they failed to tell me was that not only would I be the only non-local on the boat, but that it was a married couples/family tour. The “traditional music and dance” wasn’t (Hey dP, remember the kids song from D.R. that we couldn’t get out of our head for weeks… apparently it’s from Spain/Portugal… and they sing it in Goa too!). The tour was excruciating and I found out that we wouldn’t be getting off the boat; we’d be dancing, eating, and singing together for 8 fricken hours.
For little over two hours, I watched couples dance to elevator music face to face with limes between their foreheads while wearing flowered wreaths on their head. And, the local TV reporter kept coming over to try and interview me for a special show on Goan cultural events (naheen, shanti). It was at about the two-hour point that I had a panic attack. I couldn’t fathom spending the rest of my day on the boat. In my mind, I had two full days to spend in Goa and I was watching one of them flash before my eyes. So, in a fit of panic-induced craziness, I did what any insane tourist would do… I jumped off the boat.
Don’t worry, I didn’t jump into the water (in another hour I would have). We were close to a dock at one point and I jumped onto another boat that was beside us… a transport ship I think. And, it was bobbing up and down next to a rocky ledge/improvised dock. I had to do a bit of climbing to get off the second boat, but in less than a few minutes I was on land heading in a direction. I say “a” direction because I had no clue where I was or how the heck I was going to get back to Calangute where I was staying.
As I started walking through the jungle towards a threadbare palm tree-lined road, with no people or vehicles in sight, I had one of those rare, “Oh, f**k. What Have I done?” moments. This is when I start putting together an ordered list of what to do next:
- Step One: Saw a steeple with a Christian cross through the trees. When there’s an old Christian church that means tourists. When there are tourists there’s restaurants, toutes, and taxi drivers.
- Step Two: Befriend one of the above.
- Step Three: Find water.
- Step Four: Find food.
- Step Five: Find a means of transport that will take me back to Calangute.
It turns out that what I thought was a church, was an abandoned Portuguese convent. By this point, it was pouring rain and I was happy to stand in the midst of the empty convent and work out a different first step in my plan: explore the area around the convent and find people. The first thing I found wasn’t people, it was a pack of barking bossy little dogs that rushed me from across a courtyard.
Being a dog person I think I said something like, “Hey guys. You’re all pretty small aren’t ya?” to which they responded by wagging their tails and licking my camera and hand. After they happily trotted off I discovered an old stone staircase, which I slowly ascended to discover in sudden amazement… tourist mecca: Old Goa.