Last time I blogged I was in Calangute. After hiring a motorbike to go up to Arambol and getting stopped and fined Rs100 by the police for not having the proper documentation and proof it wan’t stolen, then an argument with our guest-house owner because he tried to overcharge us for the bike, Ajeesh and I then moved on to ‘Old Goa’, the former Portugese capital of this region.
This was the first time I’ve looked at a hotel room and said ‘no’. The room we were offered was putrid, the toilet hadn’t been cleaned in about a decade and there was litter everywhere else. Since this was the only accommodation in town, we insisted they show us better rooms. They did, and after working on them to clean the used condom out of the bathroom, use some disinfectant and sweep a bit, we accepted it. Old Goa’s a weird place. Huge, ornate, slightly nauseating (to me, at least) cathedrals and virtually nothing else.
We stayed last night in a faded but still acceptable and friendly guest-house in Panjim. It’s run by a bloke who, were he british, would be a screaming queen. I like! The room and bedding were clean, the shower pumped out enough water, the beds had mozzie nets, the electricity didn’t cut out and the squat toilet could be flushed. I like a lot!
Panjim has many things but it doesn’t have a railway station, despite being a state capital. So we’ve bussed to Margao to then get a train back to Kerala (from where I’ll probably go to Madurai on my own…). It’s going to be another overnight journey in 3rd class unless we can blag/upgrade to sleeper but even so that’s got to be better than a 15-hour bus journey. Last time we did this, the TC asked for Rs100 baksheesh. I asked to look a the tickets and the request halved… No comment on whether we actually paid!
However just getting here from Panjim has been a trial. The bridge over the Zuari river has been found to be cracked, so big vehicles are banned from using it. So we got a bus to it, then were transferred to a minibus and dumped the other side. We then discovered that the Panjim to Margao tickets we’d been sold (from a ticket window for the sale of such tickets) weren’t now enough to take us on to Margao. This annoys me a lot but there was nothing to do but pay up. I’ve found the political fall-out quite interesting too.
Also, Margao bus station is 5 km from the train station and it’s only by luck we got a bus that took us near it. It’s been good travelling with Ajeesh – he speaks tolerable or fluently in Malayalam (Kerala’s language), Tamil (Tamil Nadu), Kannada (Karnaktaka), Telgu (Andra Pradesh), Hindi, English and probably more.
I’ll try to get back into regular blogging but can’t promise I’ll be more than sporadic for the next few days… decent cybercafes are in short supply in the Keralan hills. I’m going to use a lot of the train journey getting my diary up to date… OK, enough rambling!