Some kind of “Hotel California”

Bombay is probably the most expensive city in India. It is where the richest people from the movie making and IT industries live. Their palaces conceal treasures and luxury beyond imagination. Renting a simple room in your usual neighborhood 50-60 minutes away from the center is 600 euros. So I choose Salvation Army Hostel because is the cheapest and it has the Lonely Planet recommendation. Huge mistake! The official story is that the hostel is highly institutionalized and the rules are strict, because Salvation Army is a religious organization. The unofficial reality is that one can drink, smoke and use drugs in here basically everywhere. The dirt in here is hard to describe, one wouldn’t know where to start from. The most useful items I own are the antibacterial gel and the sleeping bag!

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

In the bedroom, two-leveled beds. In the bed “downstairs” is where Joseph lives. I say “lives” because he’s still got 19 more days of waiting for the results of  college admission exams. A trip back home would cost him too much. Joseph is 19 and he comes from the far East of the country, in Mizoram, farther away from Bangladesh. Everything is different back there. He doesn’t speak Hindi and I initially thought he’s Japanese. He abides by everything happening around him with great stoicism and although he lives in this polluted environment he never used any drugs or alcohol. He spends most of his days reading. He asks many questions and he’s a fast learner.
I meet many interesting travelers, with interesting stories and great ideas. There are people that in the mornings practice yoga in the hallways and also citizens of  respectable countries (Sweden, Switzerland, England) that have hashish running down their veins. It’s a long time their visas expired, some of them even sold their passports. All they live for is the next cigarette. Some kind Indians picked them from the streets, brought them to the hostel and send them food every day. They smoke in bed, lying on their backs. They beg, lie, fight for every cigarette and have cut-off crises that leave them shaking for half an hour. They wake up in the middle of the night and light very concentrated joints. I get sick and spend my second night throwing up. I get high fever and miss one of the meetings in the Bombay International School. If  I stay here I probably won’t get any better. Barely walking, I leave the “Salvation” hostel.

Arambol Beach

My room: very big, airy, with a huge bed and a fan just as huge on top; access to individual bathroom and a hall where I can dry clothes. I did not ask for all this comfort but they don’t have a lot of guests and they hope I’ll stay longer. It is, actually, the first place where I sleep for two nights in a row. 🙂

It is the perfect place for a junkie (drugs user). You can laze for many days, weeks, months… The largest LSD amount in the world was not used in Los Angeles, London or South America but here, in Goa. One can buy 10 grams of hashish with less than 10 euros.

For over 400 years, until 1961 Goa was under Portuguese domination. The time of the Portuguese domination has marked architecture, religion (the vast majority are Catholics), even table manners! Goa is one of the few places in India where cutlery is being used. The occidentalization takes nothing out of the excellent Indian cooking. In the menus in Goa there are many occidental elements, but I prefer the local dishes. There will be a distinct article on this, stay tuned! 😀

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

There are very few people, that’s because the season is closing. Now you can only find here Indian tourists and people in love with the place. The scenery is amazing, like in the most beautiful dream. There are majestic cliffs, sweet-salty water (“The sweet lake”, 10 meters away from the Ocean), friendly people and tranquility. Nonetheless, Goa being a tourist destination, people are more commercial-oriented. Arambol is the north-most of Goa beaches as well as the wildest. This sounds weird to any European: the season is closing because of high temperatures! Although the Ocean breeze make the temperature bearable, this time of the year is considered to be off-season. To me the weather is perfect: there is very little difference of the night-day temperatures; the sea is always warm and welcoming; the monsoon (the rainy season) is yet to come.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Is not such a welcoming place for who doesn’t look for drugs: I cannot find my place in this small society where the vast majority are drug users. I finally find compatible people: a Spanish guy, a Russian girl, a couple coming from Singapore, a Indian girl, a Canadian guy and two Israelis with a guitar.

I first found out about the term “Goa” at the Rosia Montana festival FanFest, where there was one Goa tent installed. That’s another story, for the next time we meet. 🙂