Conversation has become a daily occupation – almost surpassing the swimming! One of the people we’ve befriended is another Brit who was a Buddhist priest until he left the order seven years ago. After much struggle he feels that the Buddhist path is still right for him. In a short space of time, we feel close. Gerard loves to hear other peoples’ story – and does his best to encourage them to open up. I’m always more concerned about invading their space. Maybe they don’t want to talk…and the moment is lost.
The character of our guesthouse has changed. The Brits have been diluted by a noisy multinational mix of Israeli backpackers, an extended Polish family, and a large contingent of Russians. A Welsh expatriate living north of Yellowstone Park has brought her preadolescent daughter to India for four months as part of her home schooling. They’re accompanied by a Serbian woman they met at Meher Baba’s ashram in Poone. And yet another story…. A German healer arrives to teach self realization on the roof, and an Auyrevedic masseuse sets up his table in an adjoining shed. Neither seems to attract much business; the lure of the beach prevails.
I manage to get Gerard swimming twice a day, provided he has ear plugs to protect his sensitive ears from salt water. He’d be even happier if he had an eye mask and nose clip blocking all orifices! He’d be happier still on dry land… He comes swimming only to please his wife, he says. But I have a suspicion he’s actually enjoying riding the waves, floating on his back. His home maintenance skills are pressed into service once again when I leap into bed with too much enthusiasm and dislodge the plywood board supporting the mattress.
For some unknown reason, the cook has taken up residence on a concrete sceptic tank, where he sleeps under a mosquito net. One morning we find him sleeping with a motorcycle helmet! We later learned he’s afraid of coconuts falling on him. As always the Indian capability to sleep anywhere and among anything is amazing!
Despite our busy schedule, we’ve found time to search for new restaurants. We stagger off the beach into a bamboo Tibetan café from where we can be amused by the goings on in front of us: brown pigs tiptoeing on ridiculously dainty little feet supporting their large bodies…trailed by the cutest timid piglets, some looking only a few days old. Healthy looking dogs – by Indian standards – make a game out of chasing the pigs. On Sunday morning, the young Goan women pass by on their way to church dressed in body clinging iridescent satin dresses. If we weren’t in India, I’d mistake them for call girls on their way to work. A traditionally dressed Indian woman, in a beautiful sari, gold necklace and earrings, picks up bottles from the road…. It’s hard to comprehend how such a seemingly dressed woman is a street sweeper. Probably the only all purpose outfit she owns.
If we can get ready in time, we go up the hill to Sunset restaurant for dinner and watch the sun sink down over the ocean. The area behind the restaurant leads to “little Italy”; a collection of older Portuguese style houses with tiled roofs and brightly colored verandahs. As the name implies, most of the tenants are baked Italians wearing Speedos, with cigarettes and cappuccino always in hand.
Only two days left in this indolent Paradise. We’re getting ready to start off on a more adventurous chapter than life on the beach.