Sunday, November 9, 2014

Time to Goa

So, uh, where do I start?


Walking to the beach
I'm hungover. Very hungover in fact. It's 9:30am and I went to sleep last night/morning at about 5:30am. Uh huh. So the question becomes: why in the world am I awake?

And the answer is sappy and dumb and lame and I don't care.

Because: this is an experience of a life time and sleeping feels like a waste when I'm here. When I'm living a life that is this insane I can't afford to close my eyes for even more than a second - I can sleep anywhere in the world, but this is once in a lifetime. Currently, I'm in an Indian coastal town named Goa. And I'm staying in a hostel that's designed like a prison (yep, you read that right). I felt alone and extremely detached in Banglore amongst the people and the crowd of lights and sound. It didn't help that I didn't meet even a single fellow traveler there. Here, it's the opposite. It's full of backpackers and Indians who want to escape the city life. It's the strangest place I've been yet. It's not India, but it is. Does that make sense? I was only going to be here for only two days, but I've met some pretty cool people here who have convinced me otherwise. Again, human connections from across the world. It's what makes travel life changing. Goa is the party before I flee North and get all spiritual (I'm planning to go see the Dalai Lama speak and that's my sorta end point in India. I think. I don't know, travel is so very fluid).


View from the hostel
And, thank God, this was nothing like the Hotel of Horrors mentioned last time. I mean, it's not exactly a five-star hotel - it's called prison hostel for a reason - but there's actual people here! Real, live people! How great is that? There's no need for 4 deadlocks and no hose/toilet cleaner for a shower!

Okay, quick check.
Are you still reading?

Really, you are? I mean, thanks and all. Very cool. But this is kinda boring, right?

How does one talk about "the beach life" without sounding very, extremely boring. "Oh, we swam and then we lounged around for a while in the sun." Ugh. Are you asleep yet?

That said. This is what I was up to:

The other day I went to Anjuna beach and was there for about 8 hours drinking, swimming, and meeting new friends (sidenote: Indian men are very touchy feely. They really like to hug and shake hands. A lot. It's a little strange at first but you get used to it). And I'll say this, there were times when I was swimming that I was downright creepy looking. Picture:  a big smile plastered on my face and cackling like some kind of evil villain from a cartoon show who just conquered the world. God, I looked insane. Yet people still approached me and talked with me. Go figure.

But this is the point in the post where I get wildly off topic. So, sorry, time to get serious for a moment.
Beach, please!

I noticed this first in Cambodia, but absolutely everywhere in Thailand. It's no secret that in Asia, "white is better". The 7-11s sell hundreds of different creams and you see people all the time walking down the street with a weird white paste caked on their face. There's no arguing that white is the goal here, but the reasons why are confusing and it's hard to know what to believe. Some say it's the definition of beauty and white means rich (is this ingrained?). Others talk about how dark = worker class, in the field slaving away all  day and = no money. Is it right? I don't know. I really don't. But it shocked me at first. I wanted to laugh and tell everyone that white did not mean better or more beautiful. I wanted to tell them that it was just a social construct that had no basis in facts. I wanted to tell them that their skin was beautiful just the way it was.

But I can't because it would be hypocritical.

It might sound weird that Asia wants to be whiter, but the West wants to be darker. We have countless suntanning booths and lotions and everything.
Because in the West, tan = sexy.
Why?
Good question. I happen to be attracted to women with darker skin and I have no idea if it's a nature/nurture thing. Is it culturally driven because I was brought up in an environment that values tan over white? Or is it something else?

There's absolutely nothing different between that and the Asian whitening culture. Both make no sense, but the definition of "beauty' really is dependent on where you're from.

I'm not saying it should or can change or that it's wrong or right. Simply an observation.

Back to it.
Yesterday. This is the busy Goa(n) life:
-Breakfast at a cafe in "town" with a new, awesome friend, Maria, from Venezuela. And when I say town, I mean  a random strip of maybe 15 stores and restaurants (and more cows).

-Beach time with Maria and Andreas, a cool European also from the hostel. The waves here are insane. In Thailand, it was dessert flat. You go swimming out into the water, and you're basically like "oh, this is cool, but is that it?" But here, the waves are punishing and brutal and BIG and crashing. Some of them hit you with such force that it temporarily knocks your soul from you. Snot and spit are shooting out of your face and (again) you're laughing all crazy like while this happens because it's so surreal and unbelievable that you even have the chance to be smacked in the face with a killer wave (I still need to learn how to surf...). It's pretty damn great. To say the least.

-Went back to the hostel and dove into my book. Everyone else is talking and sharing and being social but I had to be that nerdy guy that is sucked into a good book. It sorta has to happen like this. Oceans away from home, but I can't escape myself (Sidenote [I do a lot of these, don't I?]: Read S. It's one of the best books I've ever read. I'm very close to finishing and I was glued to every page. It takes commitment, for sure, since it's like nothing you've ever read before (well, House of Leaves is a good primer), but it's worth it. I swear. It's a trip of an interactive experience and one that stole a lot of time in paradise. It was that good).

-During this time, Maria and I wrote 4 lines for a song that Andreas is writing. It's very legit and about life in Goa and the his and our time in the Prison Hostel in general - here's his soundcloud here, give him a listen, very worth it - guy's going to be famous. Just wait.

-Everyone goes to a street market and there's a live band, and of course, we have to jump in and start a Congo line for "Summer of 69".

-It's 12am and the night is still young. Everyone goes to this gigantic club that has a cover, but free drinks after that (read: 50% awesome and 50% worst, most dangerous idea ever). Met a lot of cool locals who gave me advice on my future travels through India (if you're reading this, thank you!). You see, I'm very, very clueless about what I'm doing, but that's worked out for me for 2 months now, so why stop now? I don't do Lonely Planet or any other tour guides - let the people who know it best be my guide.

-It's 3am. Probably should go back.

-4:30am. Nope.

-Wake up at 930am because I don't want to miss even a second of this. Seriously, I know I already wrote this further up in the page, but I have to type it again. I feel horrible right now, working on a few hours of sleep and am pretty, absolutely hungover, but I'm alive and typing this in India. INDIA!

And Goa:
It's like a hippy town. No highways, dogs everywhere, and a very relaxed beach area. Never really been to Mexico, but this makes me think I'm there. So very green, like a mix between Thailand and Washington, but as was pointed out to me recently: everything is super, super brown and everything is very muted. There's a haze around for some strange reason. Crickets sing in the night.

This is a place to lose yourself in. Simple, party life. One ATM, no malls, cows everywhere.

It's unlike anything I've seen.
Met lifelong friends here.
But always and forever traveling on.
Like the beat of an endless drum.

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