When I arrived in Goa, I spent the first few weeks in Anjuna calculating the daunting mission of obstacles out on the open roads. The cows, the goats, the cars, and those dang dogs that everyone warned me about. Going for a walk or a run meant that I had to face the great wonder of Mother India. I had to face the elements, and fear, but most of all, I had to face myself. People told me, “Be careful. The dogs will chase you,” or, “Good luck with running. No one does that here,” or, “Make sure to take a stick.” If it wasn’t instilling fear of the animals, it was put on the heat, or the sun, or just an arbitrary feeling of disdain. Countless negative remarks on how the idea of running in such surroundings was, for lack of a better word, crazy.
That was 6 months ago.
Now when I leave my house at 7:30am to hit the road, I am not a victim of unknown elements, I am a victor of my own universe. Those scary, “rabid” dogs have turned into daily cuddles. Those cows that originally chased me have become blessings, and the faces I pass along my route have become familiar smiles that make my day.
It’s funny, really, that the dogs here are all bark and no bite. I’ve figured out that they’re just alarm systems for the house or business. They bark and the owners know someone is around. Fair enough. That means, they’re really good at their jobs. Might is right, like when driving. India teaches me to be assertive, and the dogs do, too. If you let the dogs boss you around, they surely will. The same goes for everything else in India.
India tips: 1. Personal Space is a luxury. 2. Assertiveness is a necessity.
I’m still getting to know the dogs on my little street, but once I hit the main road, I find these two sillies. . .
They are my new friends, and until I find their owners, I just call them both sweet pea. The most common name for dogs around here is Blacky, so that’s a good bet, but these two are just too sweet to be called something that common. They run towards me with wagging tails when they see me coming down the road. Sometimes they even fight over who gets cuddles first and I don’t mind at all.
Around the bend from my two sweet peas, there’s a whole turf of older dogs. They’ve got scars, cataracts, and grumpy barks, but they don’t even move from their curled up positions on the side of the road. I’m sure, like the rest of us, they just want to be heard or noticed.
In this group, Gabby sits quietly with kind eyes and she waits for belly rubs. . .
I’ve also become the Mother Teresa of goats. Heh. Near the soccer field I used as my initial running track, there’s a whole herd of awesome goats. Since it’s been so hot, the ground is pretty scorched and all the green leaves are hard to reach. This is when I take a water break and pick 14 big, green leaves and give each goat a delicious present.
They were a little freaked out the first time I did it, but now I think they’re getting used to salad delivery. It makes me feel so happy to see them so happy, and I have a little peace in my heart knowing it’s one less bit of garbage they have to digest.
Running on the Anjuna streets promises beautiful and interesting views. There’s the dude who hits golf balls into the soccer field abyss. There’s the old lady dressed in her very best–like she’s on her way to church every day. She nods at me as she walks by and she seems to be another kind of sweet pea. There’s countless parents shuttling kids to school, and there’s always a dose of that mystical man, Jesus. . .
At certain junctions where groups of men hang around–drinking chai, napping on bikes–every once in awhile, one of them will yell out, “One more round?” I do 2 laps on my route and I think it’s so funny the village counts with me.
These are some fun buildings along my path. . .
And this is my favorite hippie cow. . .adorned with love beads. . .
Domino’s Pizza has a shop here, which I’m not too sure about, especially when I get to see the aftermath of their success. . .
Yuck, right?! Coming from the birth place of this monopoly, I cringe when I see the waste in such a beautiful place. Thank goddess there’s so many beautiful views to make up for this mess.
The “main road” is a hodgepodge of sights. . . including one of my two favorite dog friends, Bingo.
Bingo barked at me countless times before I knew his name. Now, I think he was just barking for attention. He gives hi-fives and loves being adored. I’ve never seen him unchained, which is a bummer, but he seems happy, regardless. I thoroughly enjoy his playful energy.
On the home stretch of my run, I get cuddles from my most favorite Anjuna dog friend, Blacky. She’s so loving and friendly. . .a true lady!
By the time I get home, I am drenched with sweat and good vibes, and am ready to take on the rest of the day. My morning run is a constant lesson in growth, a daily dose of love, and a way to make my little universe collide with everyone else. It’s truly Goan Good!