Travels with V
India: Mumbai & Goa
Lazy days, animals, food
Goa part two
V has been hit by a nasty Indian bug and has to stay in bed. I pass the time exploring Palolem’s northern parts, where the crowds are more groups of locals, shops and restaurants more abundant and where you can even find a wine shop, where young men hang around with high expectations, and old men turn their purses inside out to find enough coins to buy something strong.
I get a bottle of Jameson and two cans of the Indian beer Kingfisher. And walk home by the sandy beach. There’s not a trace left of the ruckus of last night.
I’m reading a book occupying a deck chair by the muddy hotel pool, all alone, thinking about wild animals. We have been told leopards can be seen in the area, and even black panthers. Monkeys of course. We haven’t seen anything yet, not even a monkey.
Suddenly a little furry fellow appears on top of the opposite wall. It’s in a hurry and runs quickly. It’s an Indian palm squirrel and he lives with his wife in a palm in the neighbour’s garden. It’s right outside our balcony and we see him a couple of times, especially in mornings and afternoons when they’re both out looking for something to eat.
Cows are of course the most frequent animal here, and you can almost call them wild. They’re everywhere, walking in the middle of the street and not prone to move. The locals tolerate them but they don’t seem to be appreciated, even though they’re holy.
One day we walk as far north as we can on the beach’s bow. There’s a small lodging here with bamboo shacks and a bar by the beach. In the bar we find a Swedish man who tells us that the place is owned by a German woman. He works for a company that makes mining equipment, so he frequently travels around the world. But he often stops In Palolem on the way home, and works in the bar.
Our morning routines are pretty fixed. Breakfast is orange juice, a bowl of mixed fruit, muesli and yoghurt and a cup of strong black coffee. Then it’s down to the beach, we say hi to the guys at Palolem Dreams, they also double as caretakers on their slice of the beach. They direct us to a couple of good deck chairs that they’ve reserved for us. And then it’s just the sun and the sea, although I prefer the shadow and a good book.
The sea water has a temperature of about 25 degrees Celsius, and it’s not a hundred percent clear due to the sand whirling about in the waves. The bottom is shallow, and in the afternoons when the ebb draws out the shoreline it’s quite a long way to go befor you can swim.
Lunch is at one of the nearby places, they all have approximately the same menu of Indian, Thai, Chinese and Italian dishes. A Kingfisher to go down with it and you’re ready to hit that deck chair again.
The beach is dotted with boats taking tourists out in the bay to look for dolphins, and one day we go out with one of them. And we do see the dolphins, but they’re of another type than the ones we’ve seen in other places. These have a more snoutlike mouth, and they have a wider tail.
They’re not at all playful and curious and they don’t swim by the boat. They seem focused at finding prey and don’t seem to enjoy our company at all.
Evenings are for testing restaurants. We have a few on our maybe-again-list, for example the vegan Zest where we fell in love with an old Nandi head on the wall (the dinner was excellent, too, of course). And that place on the beach where we had grilled fresh fish sitting right by the sloshing waves.
One night we succeed in finding a free table at Ourem88, Palolem’s only real fancy dining place. It’s very discrete, almost hard to find, on a veranda of a regular villa in the palm forest. The exceptionally nice and social owner Brett and his wife Jodi has had the restaurant for several years, and it’s now cemented on the top score place of every best-in-Paleolem-list. Which means that you have to book in advance, at least a week before you plan to go there.