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06 November 2005

i should have readied myself

today i'd be checking out of the jolly jolly lester and moving north up the goan coast to the village of arambol. last night the woman at the front desk had asked me where i'd be heading today; after i'd replied she'd told me that a couple staying at the lester was also planning to travel to arambol and that if i wanted, we could split the cost of a taxi. i told her that i'd planned to take a bus (rs20 as opposed to a rs300 split for a taxi) and she proceeded to go into a five minute lecture about the downsides of bus travel and the amount of time it would take me. i was no stranger to the 'upgrade' dissertation; it became apparent that she knew the taxi driver very well. i thanked her and told her i'd think about it and would let her know the next morning (this morning).

while i was eating my breakfast on the front porch of the lester, a couple approached me and asked me if i was the other person with whom they'd be splitting the taxi.

'no, i actually need to go to mapusa first to get some money out of the atm before heading to arambol, so i'm just going to take the bus.' it was the truth. this morning i'd realized that my cash was running low and i knew that atm's were typically absent in the small goan villages. i planned to take a bus to mapusa and then another to arambol, most likely arriving two hours later.

i finished breakfast and waved goodbye to the jolly jolly lester, jumped on the scooter, and drove up the street to return it to the pack of scooter pushers. i asked if one of them could drop me off at the bus stand. as we sped away on the scooter, i should have readied myself for another upgrade dissertation, but as usual i was unprepared.

'business has been slow lately. how much will you give me to take you to mapusa and then arambol?'

'i'm just going to take the bus.'

'how much?'

'50 rupees.'

'50 rupees? come on. i get 300 to just go to arambol from here.'

'i can take the bus for 20.'

'but it will take three hours and the buses will be crowded.'

'i don't mind.'

'how about 300? for mapusa... we'll stop at an atm. then arambol.'

'i'll just take the bus.'

'okay. 200.'

i quickly converted to us dollars... about $5. was it worth $5 for the convenience of having this guy take me to an atm in mapusa and then continue to arambol? yes, [sigh]... it was. i couldn't dispute it.

'fine.' i always had mixed feelings about agreeing to an upgrade. the upgrades were always more convenient but it was difficult to shake the 'defeated' feeling of the haggle.

arrival in arambol. first impression: seemed more laidback than the other goan villages. i pulled out my map to try to get my bearings.

'do you need a taxi?' i'm sure this guy had just seen me get off the scooter.

'no... do you know where priya guesthouse is? or ave maria guesthouse?' he pointed down the road and i was off. after a few more inquiries, i found a sign for 'piya guesthouse'... my guidebook had been wrong about the name. i turned from the main road and quickly caught up to a man walking the same route.

'are you staying at the piya guesthouse?' i asked.

'yes. nice place. very clean. i'll take you there.'

in the ensuing conversation, i learned that james from spain had a serious problem. he'd arrived in goa yesterday and had forgotten a bag in his hotel in mumbai. the bag contained 800 euro in cash, his passport, and his plane ticket home. wow. i wasn't sure how someone could forget something like that, but here he was. he had just gotten off the phone with one of the hotel staff who had confirmed that they had his bag. james was relieved but now had the issue of traveling back to mumbai to retrieve the bag. i wished him luck.

piya guesthouse, like the jolly jolly lester, was a bit of a village unto itself. jack, one of the friendly staff members, escorted me to a room which was nothing more than one of a series of bamboo huts constructed on the roof of a more permanent structure. rs100 a night... about $2.25 us. security was definitely a factor and i asked him if he had any rooms with lockable doors; he told me a room would be available for rs200 at 1700. great. i told him i'd be back at 1700. i loaded all security sensitive items into my small pack and locked up my big pack and then went out to explore the beaches.

my first impression was correct. the main street of arambol was lined with shops, but the salespeople seemed significantly less pushy and the overall feel of the village was the most laid back of any of the goan villages. i liked it immediately. i walked to the beach and relaxed at a small restaurant overlooking the water. at 1700 i returned and checked into my room, a clean and neat double with a palm tree view... and most importantly... no frogs living in the toilet.

posted by paul on Sun 06 Nov 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)

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