Canadian girls escape from the clutches of bugs, rats and bikers!
What a title!
First off, let me apologize to our loyal readers. Last night I was not in fine form, and I truly apologize for the lack lustre writing performance…I know there is no excuse, but we were both whipped! Let me tell you why.
Sit back, have a cup of chai tea, Kashmir tea or good old hot chocolate (for all of you deep in the grips of winter…sorry…38 degrees here yesterday with humidity of about 102%….) and let’s settle in for a good fireside chat.
Yesterday morning Sonja scooted off to her yoga class. We had arranged to meet her for breakfast at 10am at our local watering hole next to our duplex luxury townhouse. Even though we were awake at 7:30am, none of the stores open until 10am. We think it is because they are open so late due to the heat of the day, they take a siesta and then reopen till late at night. Amber and I went and rented two scooties from Belinda, our innkeeper. They were 200 rupees each, which is about $7.00. Don’t worry, we also made sure that we had helmets with them!
We strolled down the lane to see about internet access, but the only one open was charging more than we wanted to pay, so we went back to the hotel, waited for Sonja and had a bite to eat.
Can anyone guess what Amber had for breakfast???? Another banana pancake! lol
Sufficiently sufonsified by pancakes again, the three of us headed out with full intentions of going to Old Goa. We have since learned the road to hell is paved with good intentions….or at least the road to Baga beach is! On the way we decided to stop and check out the “Mind-Body-Soul-Psychic-Fair”. It was on the way, so why not!
It was at the Banana Republic hotel, and it was not exactly as we thought it would be. Basically there were 5 people at the “fair”, each with their own specialty. Sonja decided to relax by the poolside while Amber and I had our cards/palms read and our faces and heads massaged.
The fortune teller predicted great wealth, riches and continued good looks for both of us…so the men in our lives should be grateful for that. Unfortunately he did not have the winning lottery numbers for us, so back to work when we get home I guess….
Scalp massages nearly rendered us into rubber women it was soooooooooooo relaxing.
Off to lunch now. We stopped at the “Non-Spicy-Food-Restaurant” on the beach front overlooking the ocean in Baga. Can you tell who picked this one? Ha, fooled you, Amber did not! Sonja did, but Amber certainly was happy with her selection.
Nestled amongst the umbrellas lining the beach (topless no less!) were throngs in thongs…. Amber got an eyeful, but decided against taking any pictures for fear of her lens cracking when snapping the cracks of those on the sand….
The restaurant was at the end of a cul de sac that bordered a wharf of sorts. There were piles of fishing nets everywhere and boats chugging/drifting into harbor. The salt was so strong, the wind blowing it into my eyes made them sting and water.
You can imagine my shock and surprise, when Amber didn’t order off the pancake menu! She went out on a semi-limb and ate rice…. I went more mid line spicy and Sonja took the plunge with prawn vindaloo and she started to sweat!
It was super windy there, but certainly very touristy and Mexico-y.
Sonja then needed to make her way to a travel agent to book her ticket to Bombay, and Amber and I went to go find an ATM. Here is where things started to get interesting…
As you will see by our pics and video when we get back, the driving is a gong show. First of all, it is on the left hand side of the road, and then the lines are only a suggestion, and people pass others into oncoming traffic, with traffic hurtling towards you. Anyhoo, it was a far cry from the quiet country roads we had taken to get to Baga beach. The problem is, there are zero street signs, and every corner begins to look like the next with people hawking their wares.
So, the navigator in me just threw my hands in the air, (not while driving of course… 😛 ) and drove a bit, stopped, got directions, and then continued. We finally found what looked to be a promising ATM for Amber to visit. She parked her scootie and went inside. There are two types of license plates here for vehicles. White ones for locals to use, and yellow ones for tourist vehicles. Never the twain shall mix. If you are caught driving a white labelled scooter, you risk getting pulled over, fined and the bike confiscated. We found that out earlier, so when we got our scooters, we secured the correct ones for us. As I sat there waiting for Amber, there were two couples from England negotiating prices for two scooters for themselves. I noticed all the bikes in the row were white plated ones. I tried to catch the eye of the man negotiating with the local man, but was unsuccessful. I sauntered over to one of the ladies and approached them.
They had been in India once before, but hadn’t rented scooters, so they weren’t aware of the licence plate policy. I gave them some friendly advice/information to either use or not use at their own discretion and went back to my bike. The one woman looked a bit upset at this new turn of events and broached her husband to tell him about it prior to the deal being sealed.
At this time, I was reminded of a conversation Amber and I had with a man on the plane going to Bangalore from Texas. He told us that we should do what we can to avoid “trouble” with locals, as it can get sticky, messy and dangerous. I knew I was flirting with potential ugliness by advising them of the difference in plates, but the champion of the underdog I can be, I wanted them to have the information before making their decision. The whole do unto others bit and all.
The husband then approached me for more information, and so I explained it to all four Brits. The local guy caught wind of what was going on, and didn’t like the fact I was messing in his nest so to speak and confronted me.
“Why are you making trouble for my business?” “Why are you messing with my deal…?”
I replied that I wasn’t making trouble for his business but that I thought it would be fair for the tourists to know the real truth and be able to make an informed decision. He again got pissy and cranky and looked over at his shoulder to his “posse” in the alley beside his business.
Amber was still in the bank machine unaware of the brewing storm outside, and I certainly couldn’t leave our bikes, or leave her there, so I tried to placate him while she returned.
The posse was swelling by the minute and my six shooter wouldn’t handle seven, unless there was a successful through and through, so as soon as I spotted Amber, I made my move.
Again, being in “code white” she was practically a lamb to the slaughter as she walked through the angry mob. “La la la la la la la…my those flowers are beautiful…the sun is shining…all is well with the world, except I have been thwarted by yet another non-international ATM…”
She said hello, started to tell me she needed to use the phone to deal with her debit card issues, and I cut her off at the knees, arterial spray everywhere and said, “We can make the call somewhere else….we need to leave NOW…just trust me and GO GO GO GO GO !!!!”
Being the good world traveller she is, she complied, not knowing if there was a bomb scare, terrorist attack or if I really needed to go to a washroom…..
Off we sped on our bikes weaving through traffic like pros, dodging goats, chickens, cows and “local” breed dogs, we left them in the dust with the English tourists in their midst as sacrificial lambs….
We have to go catch our plane now….so the rest of the story later….plus added feature of how to successfully perform spider slaughters….How to cut a spider in less than 8 pieces, in less than 8 seconds….
Annie and Amber!