Back to the Beach
Trip Start Aug 24, 2008
116Trip End Aug 01, 2009
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We have enjoyed the days at the beach, spending time swimming in the morning before it gets hot and then later in the afternoon after the heat of the day. We have managed to avoid the red skin that is so common among travellers. There are fun waves here, and some of them can get pretty big, but not as big as Mui Ne!! Today it was pretty windy and the waves were pretty scary at times. Our time in them was relatively short. It takes so much energy to fight them and they were coming fast and furious, but luckily the big had several small ones inbetween them!
We are packing and preparing for our 4am departure from Agonda. Our train is supposed to pass through the local train station at 5am. With any luck the train will stop long enough for us to get on. We reach Mumbai at 4:30 pm and expect it to be mayhem trying to negotiate traffic at that time of day...I am sure there will be a story or two there.
Agonda Beach March 1- 7, 2009
We took our early morning arrival at Agonda beach and Dersey Cottages in stride. No one was up yet, not even the night watchman, and the gate was locked, so all we could do was wait. We went for a walk down to the beach, we could hear the waves hitting shore even though we could see little, it was not yet 6am though the sun was due soon. By the time Becca and Simon and I got back to the gate where Jim waited the night watchman had opened the gate and was waking up the owner. We took a quick peek at a room and decided to deposit ourselves there for the time being and make decisions about a second room at a more civilised hour. There were two beds, one, a double and one slightly smaller. The arrangement of kids on the big bed and parents on the smaller one didn't last. Becca's notorious reputation for night time kick boxing and face slapping got the better of her and Simon refused to share with her. We slept for three hours, feeling like we'd slept a whole night and with appetites along, we went to the restaurant downstairs for our first of many meals.
After breakfast the only civilised thing to do was to hit the beach, and we had laughs as we jumped and surfed in the waves. The waves weren't large like at Mui Ne Vietnam, though there was the odd one that made our chins drop, expletives fly, and had us diving for safety. Diving under the big ones is the easiest way to avoid getting rolled like a toothpick as the thunderous wave breaks and can easily dash people into the sand filling bodily orifices with sand and water only to be discovered days later.
Our rule for the beach was to swim early and late in the day so that we could hopefully avoid getting burned by the hot sun. This meant that we had two nice long stretches of swimming. The first day was hot so we couldn't help but to go into the water for a short time after lunch even though the sun was at it's hottest.
We became familiar with the ebb and flow of the small village. The foreigners who were early risers would walk down for their pre-breakfast swim almost before daybreak. The cows that slept in the empty lot next to the restaurant would get up and begin their daily walk north. The bun seller would bike up and honk his clown-horn. People would come out and make their purchases. Yoga practitioners would gather on the street then go together to their class. We fell into our routine as well. We'd wake up, Jim would go for a run, the kids and I would get ready and go for breakfast, and we'd watch Jim run past us on the sand as we sat under the shelter of our outdoor restaurant looking out at the water. One morning we were in fits of laughter as Jim came to talk to us briefly after his run, taking some drinks of our lassie's and water, before turning and walking to the Arabian sea for a swim to cool off. This was all in the normal range, but we watched at first with astonishment and then with hilarity as he inched his waistband of his running shorts down so that there was a sizeable stretch of plumbers butt showing and he jogged to the water, without looking back.
After breakfast we would spend 1-2 hours playing in the water, shower off the salt, then head back to the open air restaurant at Dersey's Beach Restaurant for lunch. The tables and chairs at this restaurant were arranged so that all chairs looked out to the water. It was a nice set up for watching dolphins if they were in close enough, and the other crazy would-be surfers trying their luck in the waves. It wasn't great for meeting other travellers, though we did meet a couple from Scotland on the beach. It took me a few sentences to realize that Simon from Glasgow was speaking English, his accent was so strong. Gerry, his wife was easier to understand and until I was able to get my ears wrapped around Simon's thick brogue, I was referring to her for help!! It didn't take me too long, though three days later I was able to pick up about 80% of what he was saying and the other 20% I understood in context. We have come to realize that there are many different ways to speaka-da English!
The hot hours of the day were spent at the internet, doing writing and reading, napping or errands, followed by another 2-3 hour workout in the waves. By the time we got showered it was near to 7pm, the magical hour at which we were able to order naan bread from the tandoori oven for our supper. The 'Nan-guy' was great with the kids, allowing them to come over to see how the bread is baked on the inside wall of the clay oven. We could see that it was a terribly hot job working around the oven, but he was very we skilled as he put the naan onto a pillow, dabbed some water onto it and then stuck it to the inside of the tandoori. It would only take a minute or so before it would be ready for him to use a hook to take the bread out, slather it with butter and cut it into 3 pieces ready for consuming.
As we showered and ate we would watch the cows come south for their night time bedding down. We were alarmed to notice that a newborn calf was laying down next to his mother, but seemed to be dead. There were three crows pecking at the calf, one on it's head, one on it's back and one at it's anus, a common starting point for entry to the soft insides of a meal. I went and shooed them away and was surprised to see that the calf raised his head! I guess he will be O.K. for now. Later in the day the mother gave a mock charge when I got too close to the calf. Her being protective was a good sign.
The kids found a little store with some cool clothing, fought a hard battle with the owner over prices, and walked out victorious with pants and shirt in hand. The weather was hot during the day, searing into our skin as we walked down the street to the internet café. Luckily it cooled off nicely at night time. Our room didn't cool off though, and we found sleeping very difficult. The concrete building had the whole day of hot sun beating on it to heat up and as concrete will do, held onto that heat throughout the night. We decided to look for a place with air conditioning for our last two nights so we could get a good sleep. It was not far away and seemed like pure luxury to be cool when inside the room.
We had to get up before 4am to get ready for our train which was due to arrive at the local station at 5am. We had arranged for a taxi from Dersey's to pick us up and take us the 20 minute ride to the Canacona train station. The place was pretty sleepy when we arrived, but a few people trickled in over the next half hour. I went to the window to ask where to stand for our particular car, and the man told me number 5. It was only 5am, and we fully expected the train to be late. I went to tell the others that I know where to stand when the man from the window came and said, "quickly, go, go, train is coming"! We got up and walked as fast as we could with the knowledge that the train only stops for a minute or two at most. I felt pain in my own body as Becca tripped and fell to the ground followed by her backpack. She landed on her knee and her backpack pushed her head into the dirt. She was tentative to get up, but bravely did so and carried on the rush to get to our platform. Our car arrived just before we did to the exact spot we were told to stand and we boarded easily before it left the station. People were asleep, but we managed to get to our bunks and settle down for the remainder of the night. We felt very fortunate that our bunks were not occupied as this can easily happen and often does.