Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India

I got stuck Vagator for longer than I expected but was a really good time. I actually started this blog a few days ago but did not finish before I had to go because I had plans for my last night in Gos Kwertis left a few days after my last blog so I've been hanging out with Vince and Audrey a lot. We hung out a lot before but we didn't talk much, just knew we enjoyed each others company because of the vibes, so its been nice the last few days to talk and get to know each other better. I traveled south to Kanyakumari on the very southern tip of India because there is a solar eclipse that will be the most visible in the south of India. Vince and I talked about it and we both wanted to go and enjoy each others company so we are going together. Audrey and her mom also decided to come down for the eclipse and they arive tonight or tomorrow morning, but now for the story of the last week.

After playing chess and writing will all day before Audrey, Ruby, and Josh came to the Moon Dance for dinner and we all decided to go to Shiva Valley to party for Kwertis's last night in Goa. The Goan Trance at Shiva Valley that night was actually pretty good, or not bad. We had a great time dancing, I was tired but I pushed it a bit because I wanted to spend time with Kwertis before he left. Music stopped at about midnight so we went bact to Audrey's, which is close to Shiva Valley, but it came back on after a little time so we went back to dance more. We met up with Josh at the party (it was just Kwertis, Vince, Audrey, her mom, and me) and then the music turned off at about 3 so we left.

On the way out we ran into Ruby with a bunch of guy's and we all went to Ruby's place to hang out because no one was tired. At Ruby's it was funny because we all hung out outside and talked for a while and eventually woke up her neighbors. But it is Goa so nobody cared at all. They said it was fine, keep on talking and hanging out, they even joined us. Before the sun came up we all went to get some food at the resturant next door, waking up the family, but again its Goa so they were happy to cook us food. After eating Kwertis and I went back to the guest house and played one more game of chess before going to sleep.

The next day Kwertis left at about 6 pm and I didn't wake up until 2 so we played some final games of chess before he had to leave. After he left Vince had gotten into chess watching us play so we continued to play chess. Audrey came over some time later so we made plans to party that night at Prim Rose which is a club near Vagator that I had not been too and stays open to 6 every night because it is indoors. We stopped at a bar Vince knows on the way and didn't get to the Prim Rose until about 1:30. Soon after Ruby came with another large group of guy's. The music was the same Goan Trance but someone was playing a drum along with it so it had some life.

After a while a large group of us were out in the bar of the Prim Rose instead of the dance floor talking. One nice thing was usually everyone is speaking English but at this time there were more French speakers so that was what was being spoken mostly. I liked it because I felt a bit bad making Audrey and Vince speak English all the time. We stayed at the Prim Rose until after it closed making a bit of a scene but there were so many of us the place did not care or kick us out. In the morning Vince, Audrey and I went to Spagetti Beach which is right next to little Vagator to relax in the morning. The beach was very beautiful and had a big carving of Shiva on one of the rocks on the beach and another of Buddha on the rocks behind the beach. Around noon we decided we were finally tired so we went back to the guest house to sleep.

The next day we woke up late again and decided to go to Anjuna to have dinner with Audrey's mom. We were very hungry and ate at a resturant on the beach next to Curly's. At dinner Audrey and her mom invited Vince and I to a house party in Anjuna at a friend of thiers house that has lived in Anjuna for about 30 years, and we said we would love to go. After eating we all went back to Moon Dance and hung out for many hours together talking. Audrey's mom doesn't speak English so there was a lot of French-English translation but it was fun because French is a very beautiful language. At 4 or so we all decided we were tired so Audrey and her mom went back to Anjuna to sleep and we made plans to meet in Anjuna the next day at 7 to go to the party.

Vince and I bought a fish from our guest house and had them cook it into a fish curry for the house party. We arrived late as usual and then made it to the party by about 8. The party was nice there were a lot of older hippies that have lived in the area for about 30 years or younger people that grew up in Goa. There was a fire outside and people playing music and stuff. One funny thing was we were some of the only people to bring food and we all brought meet dishes (Audrey and her mom brought stuffed peppers and tomatos that were excelent), and there were a lot of veggie people there that didn't bring any food so they started complaining when there weren't any veggie stuffed peppers. A really cool thing that happened was that the owner of the house Gypsy is also a hot springs freak, she even has a website like me, but focuses of spring around the world. We talked for a long time about hot springs in the US, Thailand, and India. When we left Gypsy did not want me to leave and we exchanged e-mails to possibly go to some springs together in the future.

That night we hung out at Audrey's place for a while and then Audrey came back to our guest house to hang out. We just drank a bit and went to a bar nearby that Vince knows the owner. We made plans to go to Chapora beach the next day for sunset but ended up staying up too late and didn't actually do that. Vince and I also made plans to go to Kanyakumari to see the eclipse.

The next day we woke up way too late and Audrey had to go back to Anjuna to do some stuff. Vince and I just hung out and made plans to go to Kanyakumari. We decided to leave on Monday morning and take the express to Trivandrum and then take another train to Kanyakumari. If everything worked, which it did, then the timing would be almost perfect. There were no reservations left so we decided to get the general admission which opens one hour before the train departs. All this planning to a little bit of talking so we just went to little Vagator to see the sunset.

We were going to go to Anjuna to have dinner with Audrey that night but didn't. We were running late as usual and then when we were about to leave the guy at our guest house asked us where we were going. When we said Anjuna he said not to go there that night because there were many police, and many tourist getting in trouble. So we took his warning to heart and just hung out for the night and the guy from the guest house joined us for a while and we talked. We went to Anjuna the next afternoon to see Audrey and tell her what happened and when we did she told us it was good for us not to come. Curly's got shut down at 8:30 and a bunch of people got arrested. It was even in the newspapers all over India the next day. Apparently it was a large bust they had been planning for a while and no one could bribe there way out of trouble, which is strange for India.

We made plans to go to one last party at Hilltop because that was where the party was that night and I had not been yet. That is when I tried to write a blog but had to leave to Hilltop before I could finish it. Hilltop was nice, with florecent trees all over the place and good speakers, and a very good croud that night. It is funny because when you spend some time in northern Goa you get to know all the faces. By this time I knew a lot of the crowd and they knew me. We could all dance together and when the music ended it was all about where to go next to dance more. Because Hilltop is more of an established club it ended promptly at 10 and we decided not to party more so we could sleep and catch the train the next day. We actually did four people on Audrey's scooter back to Moon Dance becuase Vince and I walked, that was really funny. We hung out for a while made plans to meet Audrey and her mom in Kanyakumari and went to sleep.

The next day Vince and I were up and packed in time to catch a taxi we had set up to Madgaon to catch the express to Trivandrum. The train was a little late, which is normal, and everything went smoothly. We were on an AC sleeper and it had good meals too. Also you could go to the area with toilets and the doors to get out and open the doors and look out. It was really cool to feel the wind and look out at India as it passes you by. All in all it was a great first India train experience. At Trivandrum we got there at 6 am and had to wait four hours for the train to Kanyakumari. We had some tea in the town, walked around a bit and then had breakfast in the train station. Again the train was fine to Kanyakumari and we got there at about one in the afternoon.

We walked into town to find a hotel. There are many many Indian men here in black clothing, wearing a longi, with a colored scarf, and a red dot on there forhead. At first I thought maybe these were some Hindi group only in Kanyakumari but they are pilgram Hindi's, or tourist Hindi's. In Hindi they are required to go on pilgramage around India for at least one year of there life. They usually go to all the spiritual sites in India and this is one of the oldest places for pilgramage. There is a temple right on the tip of India that has been there before white people came here and is a place where men come to devote there lives to Hindi and a life of celebacy. That is why most, if not all the pilgrams here are men (also it does tend to be a sexist culture where men can do more than women, especially within the Hindi religion).

Anyway, we walded into town and found a nice guest house, where we are on the top floor and have a good view, and it is a good price. After settling down in the room we went for a walk around town. At first we walked through a neighborhood that was all locals, some old ladies were playing some board games I don't know, and fishermen were walking into the area with fish from the days catch. When we got to the ocean you could see the ferry dock that takes you out to this island that has a temple honoring a Hindi teacher that was built in 1970 and large sculpture of a poet from Tamil Nadu (the state) on the next island over that is very big.

After looking at this for a while we walked through the center of town and it is very touristy with Indian tourists (that is when I realised they are not a local Hindi group but pilgrams). There are tons of little shops like a market but is all kinds of crap, and they are everywhere, like the whole center of town is a market of crap. I don't know if its always like this or if its just for the eclipse. Maybe there are a lot of pilgrams because of the eclipse, but I can tell you there are not that many white people. Also many of the men in the black cloths are driving packed into these decorated jeeps with orange flags and large Hindi shrins on the front. We walked away from all this to find a place to eat and got some Indian food from a little place. Then we went to look for some Indian insence for Vince and it was hard to find. Eventually an Inidan woman that is an engineering professor at a nearby university took us to the shop that would have insence.

That night we went out to call Audrey and have some dinner before stuff closed. Everything was good with Audrey and we ate at a veg place. There are actually more all veg places here than meat places. The culture here is very geared towards no animal products. After dinner we had some tea at one of the tea stall that are all over the place on the streets and went to sleep.

Today we just walked around town again and had some breakfast. We walked right by the old temple and there were men in black cloths everywhere. This place is very strange. An old fishing town in some places and completely filled with pilgrams in others. Anyway, thats how I've been doing and what I have been doing, and what I have seen in the few places I've been. The eclipse is on Friday, the day after tomorrow and I don't know what I'm doing after that. Just pray that there are no clouds on Friday and I get to see this thing, because it could be another amazing thing I did not expect to see while I'm in India. Peace and Love to All.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Through New Years in Vagator

I've made it to the next year here in Vagator, Goa and I would like to appologize that it took me this long to get on the computer but it has been quite an eventful week. I've gone to some parties made some really good friends and even spent a night in the jungle. It has really been an amazing experience for me to be here to celebrate the new year. So, I'll start from the beginning and try not to make this too long.

When I last left off I was headed to the Sunburn festival on a beach down south, I think it was Candolim. That is exactly what I did. I met up with Kevin at the Chill Out bar and a couple people from London named Joe and Lucy. The festival was fun but very expensive. Since I drove all the way down there I payed anyway. The last DJ is well kown I guess for house music and his name was Roger Sanchez. It ended at 10 o'clock so we heatded back to Vagator to bring Kevin home, then met up with other friends, two more London guy's from the same group named Timmy and Tillo, and a guy from Jersey (a small island and independent country between France and England) named Kwertis (I have become very good friends with him).

We went to some parties at around 11:30 that were in Anjuna. The first one was at Bamboo Forest which was a crazy drive and hard to find. Eventually we saw an Israli guy on a scooter who showed us the way. The music was bad Israli trance and the police came and shut down the party at around 1:30, but I had a good time talking to Kwertis about philosophy. The setting was really cool too in a bamboo grove outside. Next we went to Curly's and Shiva Vally (which are right next to each other and on Anjuna beach) and continued the conversation over the bad Goan Trance. Curly's was cool too with the florecent trees good vibe. Curly's ended at around 4:30 and we lost the London group so Kwertis and I went back to his place at Moon Dance and talked for a little while longer before I went back to my guest house to sleep.

The whole next day I slept, watched Soprano's and recovered from the late night partying. On the 30th I headed out of my guest house to see the sunset and met up with people to figure out what was going on for new years. I found out that there was a party right on Little Vagator in Disco Valley, which is a place that used to be the place for Goan trance parties but this was the first party in 5 years. Then I went to visit with Kwertis at the Moon Dance and arrange to meet him the next day to party for new years.

On new years I had a great time. I met up with Kwertis at about 3 o'clock, and a couple French people named Audrey and Vince (which have also become good friends). We started the night out early and it was ton's of fun. We got impatient for Disco Valley to start so we went to Shiva Valley but nothing was going on so we went to Audrey's place which is right there. We hung out for a little bit with Audrey's mom and another guy named Jeremy and the pet crow they had been raising for a couple weeks. At around 10:30 we went back to Moon Dance and lost Kwertis on the way back, so Jeremy, Vince, Audrey and I walked down to Disco Valley. The water was really high and was hitting the shacks on the beach so it was strange walking across the beach to Disco Valley. We waited outside the venue to see the fireworks on the beach and then went in.

Disco Valley was really an amazing spot. Its a sandy valley with palm trees on the sides and you can almost see the beach. The music was dark Goan trance that was not very well mixed but all the people were good and the vibe was really nice. The moon was also full on new years eve and there was a luner eclipse at about 1 o'clock with I saw. So the night was really special. We found Kwertis at Disco Valley and the group from London. It was nice because everyone was doing there own thing and every time I found myself alone I could look around and see someone I know and move over to dance near them. I went up on the hill with the London group and the music ended at about 4:30 because there was a wave of police that came and shut the party down (I guess they weren't payed enough or they are just ass holes).

Kwertis, Audry, Vince and I went back to Moon Dance when the party ended and hung out for a while. When the sun was up Audry and Vince went to sleep and Kwertis and I went to play some chess on the beach after eating some food. That was fun playing chess in the morning on the beach, the locals were just going about there work and we played while watching the day get brighter. The only bad part was there was a really drunk guy from Cali that I know from the Chill Out and he was making a complete fool of himself. I guess after we left at about 10 in the morning he even broke some chairs and a table.

The next day was another day of recovery and finishing the last of the Soprano's. I actually have no pictures of anything I just described becuase when I went to Sunburn there were no camera's allowed and Keola didn't want to pay so I gave him my camera to watch. We kept seeing each other and the camera was safe but I didn't get it back until the 2nd. On the 2nd and I had to leave my guest house (which was too much money anyway) and move over to little Vagator, where I spend most of my time. I went to Moon Dance because that is where I know the most people and the vibe is mellow but they were full. Kwertis was very nice and let me sleep on his floor.

I spent the day playing chess with Kwertis and hanging out with Vince, Audry and a couple of their friends from London who knew Kwertis also. The day was fun just hanging out and talking and I really had a wonderful time. I meant to go to the internet that day but I got caught up hanging out. Kwertis, Vince, Audry and I planned to leave the next day and spend a night in Arombol in the Jungle where Kwertis had lived for a week or so a year ago. I was up for it because it sounded like another special experience to take advantage of while in Goa, and it was.

The four of us left Moon Dance at about 11:00 in the morning and made it to the jungle in Arombol by 12:30. This place was a very special majical place. We camped up a valley from Arombol beach (the one furthest north if you walk around the rocks). There is a Bodhi tree that is a place for pilgramage for Hindi's in this jungle and people live there year round, also it seems to be in some guidebooks because there we a lot of tourists going there during the day. We didn't camp at the Bodhi tree but at another one down the valley a little bit.

After setting up camp we went down to the beach to swim and Vince went to buy some fish for us to eat. The beach is really nice with the ocean obviously and there was a fresh water lake behind it where the river came to the beach. Also beyond the lake there is some yellow clay in the river that is good for the skin so people were completely covered in the clay and looked like strange yellow people. We swam in the ocean, then the lake, and then decided to go back into the Jungle just before the sun set, thinking Vince was taking a really long time and must be back at camp. When we got to camp there was no Vince but we had to start collecting wood for the fire before it got too dark.

We hung out in the Jungle until maybe 10 when we decide to go to the beach to see the stars and ocean, and see if Vince was there. He wasn't so we hung out for a while and went back into the Jungle. The Jungle at night was crazy. You could here sounds everywhere and it almost felt like I was part of the Jungle sleeping under that tree. In the morning we went up to the big Bodhi tree and it was a very majical place. People were sitting around in a circle and reading books about Hindi and you could feel the energy in the place. The only bad thing was all the tourists coming up there and taking pictures like it was some sort of spectical. For me it was even more special because I had never heard of this place until I was there.

After visiting the tree we packed out, got some food at the beach and went back to the scooters. At the scooters we ran into Vince and he had had a crazy night getting lost finding fish, then getting to the beach too late, then getting lost in the jungle at night with no torch. It ended good for him though because he found nice people and a good place to hang out in Arombol. After getting back to the Moon Dance Audry went home to go to sleep and Kwertis and I played chess until Vince got home, then we all played chess. There was also a room open at the Moon Dance so I have my own room now.

Today I have just been hanging out with Kwertis and Vince playing chess and writing this. I'm ready to move on but I also don't want to leave before I'm ready. I think tomorrow I'll book a bus to south Goa and then move on from there. This last few days here have been really special to me. I have not been thinking about my trip at all but about why I am here. What did I come all the way over to India to see? It has been really nice just to think like this before I move on to the rest of India. I am ready to fully get into the culture here and see what I can learn. Thats all for now, peace and love to all!