Wednesday, 14 January 2009

"Paradise Lost...I Mean Paradise At Last"

So the good news is that Eggie did NOT throw up as soon as our plane to India took off. But 'throw up' he did, and not once but twice. Luckily it was during the last couple of hours of the flight. Unluckily he was sitting in an aisle seat beside a kindly but complete stranger in the centre row. Luckily I don't think he managed to hit her with his heaving, but unluckily he did manage to expel a fair bit of liquid - most of which was interminably soaked into the economy seat, where it shall no doubt remain for many weeks/days/years to come. (I must say I was rather horrified when during landing, having sunk like a martyr into the offensive smelling seat and trying to buckle my seatbelt, I got rather more than I was bargaining for in the way of semi-congealed gunk between my fingers. Jay just leaned over, chuckled and said, "Nevermind Nis, I'm covered in the stuff.")

After a painless immigration exit (we're old pro's at this and hence had the good sense to elbow past the plethora of 'older folks' who were too busy smiling at our filthy teddy-bear carrying boys to notice that we were on a mission to secure front of the queue positions at Customs...), we hopped in a government taxi and began the long drive down south. It wasn't long before the boys complained of being thirsty, and so we pulled over to purchase some water and mango juice. This turned out not to be the wisest move when ten minutes or so later Egg got that funny look in his eyes and Dumps started moaning insistantly and pointing to his tummy. I forced Egg's head down onto my lap and he quickly passed out, but Dumps wasn't so lucky and violently heaved the contents of his stomach into my lap, soaking my new embroidered trousers and staining them blue with the half-digested remnants of his blueberry breakfast muffin from the plane.

Sooner than we imagined we were unceremoniously deposited on the side of the raod, albeit the end of a beach road. Two vomit-stained adults in winter gear, and two vomit-clad rug rats suffering from jetlag and car sickness were unceremoniously booted from the tourist vehicle onto the dusty dirt road. We were no doubt a sorry sight to the assembled locals and onlookers, who smirked and didn't even try to hide their amused curiosity. Having decided to wing it and not pre-book a hotel we left our three suitcases and three carry-ons outside the closet beach shack and filed in looking both elated and defeated. Was it brave or stupid of us to just 'go with the flow' and not pre-book our accommodation? Who can say, but in the harsh mid-day heat we had to devise a plan and devise one fast as the boys were starting to get tetchy and we were minutes from total meltdown.

We could of course have stayed at our 'assigned hotel' up in North Goa as part of the package deal, but being the seasoned Goan travelers we knew that the extra hassle and added expense was worth it if we didn't want to spend out two weeks surrounded by sunburnt, beer swilling Brits in too-tight bikini's, bargaining for tat all day long and stuffing their faces with 'finger chips' by the pool...)

Luckily the place we had discovered last year (run by a lovely French girl and her Italian boyfriend) had vacancy, and it wasn't too long until we were firmly ensconced inside our old room. It was hard to believe that a whole year had passed since we were last here.

The next morning, leaning lazily on cushions in a beach shack, staring out into the Arabian sea and sipping Indian chai and nibbling on fresh fruit salad, it was hard to imagine somewhere that conjured up the idea of 'Paradise' more than here. Smiling joyously at each other Jay and I silently concurred that the hell of traveling here had been well worth it - vomiting, tantrums and expense considered. There is nowhere else on earth that we feel as happy, content and as 'at home' as here in Goa. However it has to be said that after many years of package holidays, we have now been put off the idea of North Goa (which is where 90% of all tourists unwittingly end up) and are firm South Goa loyalists.)

I'd like to interject here that after a traumatic and wholly unsuccessful nap attempt with the monsters this afternoon, Jay has just emerged from the room, kissed me on the lips and said he's had it and is off for a bike ride...a long bike ride. Dumpie has stomped outside in his Goan uniform of nappy, cheap plastic sandals and Postman Pat backpack (looking not unlike a miniature German tourist) and is calling after him, "Bye Bye Dada!" whilst flashing his mischievous and evil little grin in my direction. I don't know what he did to 'Dada' but whatever it is it traumatized my dear husband and I will be surprised if he returns before sunset. Egg meanwhile has been raiding the 'treat bag' we stupidly brought along with us and is simultaneously stuffing his face with fruit bars, kitkats and crisps, whilst playing catch with the friendly big dog here in the garden.

We've had a brilliant few days, already feel at home here, and have been gorging ourselves on divine food (fresh kingfish steaks, moreish potato pancakes called 'Aloo Paratha' which are lightly fried then dipped into spicy lime pickle, plain yoghurt and washed down with strong chai tea, stir-fried vegetable rice, honeyed banana fritters and enough 'Kingfishers' - Indian beer - than you could shake a stick at). At this point I'd like to make it clear that i ABHOR beer. Aside from the occasional half-pint of Guinness, which i'll sometimes sip in a pub, as much for the atmosphere and experience as anything else, anyone who knows me knows that I.Do.Not.Drink.Beer. Except that currently, for whatever strange reason, i apparently DO drink beer - or so it seems. I don't know whether it is the hot weather, the look of surprise and pleasure on Jay's face, or the fact that it is relatively easy way to get a nice little buzz on, but I find myself sipping Kingfisher's and not hating the experience. I do however fear the onset of a 'beer gut' if this ridiculous behavior continues, and truth be told I am definitely more of a 'wine and champers' kind of girl, but I'm mildly amusing myself with the onset of my pretend beer drinking, and though I know it shall not continue off these shores, I am likely to continue on in this little sunset/dinner ritual for the next few weeks. (For this reason do not be alarmed friends and family if a picture is posted of me clutching a beer mug and looking stupidly happy. It is only another one of my 'phases' and not to be taken seriously.)

Anyway, I suppose I must go now as the boys are hyper and starting to kick the football into the beautiful garden, destroying many months of hard labour I suspect. Moreover the kindly French owner is staring nervously at us, silently hoping that we check out before her place is downgraded by a star or two.

Our room has one giant bed and one single bed. Egg sleeps in the single and Dumpie, Dada and I sleep in the massive one. This ensures that a) no romantic cuddling is on the cards b) we all have bad sleeps and are smacked repeatedly upon sleeping and waking by 'The Dumps' and c) we share our bed with a stinky teddy bear, a Postman Pat knapsack (which Dumpie adamantly refuses to part with - EVER) and various assorted foodstuffs and crumbs.

It ain't pleasant but we'll put up with traveling with the monsters if we get to escape bleary January in the UK and feast on papayas and watermelon everyday. At any rate Dumps has just run past me with our solitary room key dangling on a dirty rope from his grubby little fingers and is now attempting to feed it to the big German shepherd. Even I know when it's time to sign off. Laterz xx

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