Anjuna, Goa Tales #23–9 Tips for Running in Goa

I love running.  I do.  It clears my head.  It makes me feel great.  It’s my yoga, my zen time, my reset hour.  It even comes with perks such as allowing me to eat dessert guilt free when I feel like it.  All in all, me and running, we’re BFF’s.

One of the first things I consider when I travel is whether or not to take my beloved Asics.  No, I’m not getting paid to say I like their shoes, but I’ve been wearing them for almost a decade and I swear by them.  I’ve been a runner for the past 17 years and I’ve gone through my fair share of brands and styles to come to this point.  Runners out there, I know you know what I mean.  Once you find a shoe, it’s like finding a solemate that you’ve waited for all your life.  Am I right, or am I right?!

Okay, so when I came to Goa with my husband (aka Magic Man) one of the first questions I asked him was “Can I go running?”  He of course told me it was no problem but I still wasn’t sure that he actually knew the logistics of running in India since the thought of running for pleasure was the weirdest notion he could ever dream up.

I Googled the hell out of running in India, running in Goa, running groups, and could barely find any worthwhile information.  I then found another blogger who lives in Goa and sent her an e-mail asking about tips for running in the area.  Her response was basically that no one runs in Goa.  Hmm.  Great.  That was not the response I was looking for.

So, my fellow runners in the world out there. . .

After countless mishaps, and plenty of miles, I have put together a list of tips for those of you that don’t want to leave your BFF behind when traveling in Goa.  I’m sure this list could apply to other areas in India, too, but since my expertise is in Goa, this is what I know. . .

Tips for Running In Goa

1. Plan a route ahead of time

Goa is a bit like a windy maze with small streets that don’t always go somewhere.  It is definitely a good idea to rent a scooter or a cycle and ride around to check out the surroundings so you can properly plan a good route.  In my experience, it is much better to stick to larger roads.  Most people have dogs and dealing with them gets a bit trickier on the smaller roads.  It is also better to do laps on a small route than risk going on small streets that could give you problems.

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2. Be patient

Running in India isn’t like running anywhere else.  You might have to stop for dogs.  You might have to stop for cows.  You might even have to stop for goats.  It’s a wild world out there and not many people run for pleasure in India, so you will get some funny reflections or obstacles on your way.

3. Wear appropriate clothing

Yes, this is Goa and it is known for being very free, but let’s get real.  This is still India. Cover yourself up.  I’m not saying put on layers and sweat to death, but for the ladies, put a shirt on top of your sports bra and wear shorts that cover your ass.  Dating is still a non-existent thing in this culture and that means there’s a lot of horny people walking around, ya know.  So, maybe running with your lady bits bouncing around like juicy mangoes isn’t the best way to have a good workout.  It is not respectful to the culture or to yourself.

4. Drink a lot of Water

It is tropical jungle in Goa and it is very hot.  Make sure to drink plenty of water, and if you can, carry some with you.  It took me a long time to get used to running in such extreme heat.  Bottled water is offered at most little shops, too, so you can pick some up on your way for 20 rupees.

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5. Early morning is better than evening

After trying all different times of the day over the last couple years, going for your run in the morning is the best.  I don’t really like to wake up so early but in Goa it’s either that or give up running.  I can’t let my BFF down.  Running in the morning means you beat the heat, you beat the traffic.  There’s also less animals on the roads and less dust.  If you’re tired later in the day from getting up so early to do your beloved run, then you’re in luck, because it is mandatory to have an afternoon siesta around here.

6. Do not be afraid of Dogs

This is a make it or break it rule.  If you’re afraid of dogs, give up now.  You won’t survive running in India.  I have run enough miles and kilometers to understand the dog politics around here.  Most dogs are not like how Western people have pets.  They are used for alarm/security systems and they have a fierce attitude.  They will always, always, bark as you go past their turf.  Some of them will chase you, also.  But, for the most part, they’re just doing their job rather than truly wanting to eat you alive.  However, often times, there are groups of dogs and when there’s numbers they can get a little bossy.  Getting to know the dogs on your running route is important.  They also love biscuits!  Once they are familiar with you, it’s not an issue.  I personally love dogs and try to find out as many names as possible.  Over the years, I’ve made so many good dog friends on my runs (like this girl, Ginger, below), but I had the most problems when I didn’t do this. . .which is tip #7.

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7. Carry a Stick

A stick?  Yeah, that’s what I said.  I know it looks ridiculous to go running with a stick in your hand, but that little stick is the magic wand that will save you from a pack of aggressive dogs, and possibly, having to get FIVE rabies injections.  I made a mistake running several times without a stick and once got surrounded by a whole pack of dogs that ended with one of them nipping my ankle.  Yes, I had to get the rabies vaccination, and yes, it totally sucks.  Good news is, it’s quite cheap in India and available everywhere, so you don’t have to worry.  However, had I been holding my glorious and all powerful stick in one hand, I would’ve never had to get those dang shots.  Lesson learned.  I never leave my house without my stick.  Never ever.  No dog wants to come near you when you have a stick in your hand.  Period.  (Btw, don’t bother getting a rabies vaccination pre-traveling because you’ll still have to get one if you ever get bit anyway).

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8.  Ditch the music

Forget about your Ipod or whatever device you use to listen to music with.  In India, it’s much better and safer to listen to the sounds around you. . .whether it’s an unfamiliar dog coming to bark at you, traffic coming from behind, or a coconut falling from above. . .just take a break from technology and enjoy what Mother India has to offer.  I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

9. Have FUN

I originally got a bit stressed at the thought of tackling the pavement in Goa, but now, my morning run is so very special.  I get to meet the locals, make new friends with the dogs, and enjoy the lush surroundings.  It’s an adventure every single day I hit the road and I can’t wait to do it all over again the next day.

Happy running, family!

If you’d like to read more about my running experiences in Goa, check out my posts The Stop and Go  and The Canine Revolution.

Do you have experiences with running in different countries?  What are some things you’ve learned?

 

Anjuna, Goa Tales #22–Vibes before the rains

It’s  that time of year again in Anjuna where the cicadas start their incessant high-pitched buzzing/hissing noise in the trees and it sounds like a symphony of vibrating alarms going off.  They’re calling to their lovers. . .or, potential lovers, anyway. . .or, for some of them, maybe just hoping another little cicada chick is listening somewhere in the jungle and will find them amongst the trees.

They only like certain trees so you can be walking down a quiet part of the road and then all of a sudden it’s as if you’ve entered a tunnel of sound.  The mating call engulfs you and all of your senses.  I never heard it at this volume other than in the rainforests of Costa Rica.

But their call is also a message to let us know the rains are coming.  The monsoon will be here soon enough.  Gasp!  The symphonic alarms remind us every day.

The plus side of that. . .MANGO SEASON!  Oh yeahhhhhh!  This is the time of year where all the locals who have trees in their yards start playing “pass the mango.”  What the heck does that mean, you ask?  Right.  That means there’s a strange obligatory act among neighbors and family members that everyone passes a parcel of  mangoes to another household.  We happen to be lucky because we know one of the old aunties in the village who happens to have one of the BEST tasting mango trees in the area and we get some of her very precious crop.  These are the kind of mangoes that make you almost shed tears while you taste their sweet, luscious, to-die-for flavor and you can’t get them at the markets or anywhere else.  You have to know this auntie and be part of her inner circle.

Just the other day, I was talking to an Austrian guy, Dominik, and telling him about these mangoes.  I said, “You’ve never tasted any mango this good in your life.  I swear.  It will almost make you cry.  It will be the best mango you’ve ever had.”  He looked at me, surprised, of course, and then Magic Man walked in the door with a whole bag of these special mangoes.  I cut the cheeks and handed one to Dominik.  He dug in with his spoon, put a scoop into his mouth, and then moaned.  His eyes closed.

“Oh my god,” he said. “This is so good.”

“It is?” I said.

“Yes.  This is best mango I’ve ever tasted.  Wow.”

Yeah.  So, there’s that.  One of my best friends in America who is also Indian never dared to eat a mango in the states.  He used to always say they were rubbish.  Now I totally understand why.  You really have no idea how bad something is until you taste how good it CAN be.  Whew.  The not knowing isn’t always bad, though.  I think that goes for random life stuff, too.  Isn’t there a famous story about someone eating an apple that changes them forever?!

Lately, even the peacocks have been more out and about.  They like to roam the fields at sunset. . .

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It’s also been that time where the Cashew trees just produced their funny capsicum looking fruits.  They have the most unusual aroma.  To me, it smells of Feni, which is the local moonshine made from the fruit.  It is an acquired taste, but sometimes, the sunsets around here just aren’t right without a Feni cocktail in one hand.  Haha.  Good thing you can’t get drunk off the breeze. . .

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A funny thing happened the other day.  Traffic stopped for “coconut maintenance.”  That means a guy climbs (sometimes barefoot) to the top of the coconut trees to whack them down before they accidentally fall on whatever is passing underneath. . . even the cows are spared. Thank god for the men who do this.  Woo!  You’d be surprised to see how high up they actually climb without any kind of gear.  It’s a wild sight.  (The below pic captures a coconut in flight in case you missed that big dot in the center!)

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Our tiny village is quite hip these days with some yummy food carts and trucks.  Our favorite place to go is close to our house and they serve things like Pani Puri and Shev Puri.  I don’t know if I can explain them, so here’s some pics. . .

On the left, Pani Puri. . .it’s a crunchy-ish sphere that gets cracked open with a spoon and a spicy lentil soup thing gets poured inside.  You’re supposed to eat it like a shot.  On the right, Shev Puri, is the same crunchy-ish spheres with spicy soup and lentils inside but then it has onions, tomatoes, hard lentils, and some awesomely crunchy/spicy stick things on top.  The textural experience is the bomb dot com.  The flavor is also delish! Both are only 30 rupees!

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Many of our friends in Anjuna and seasonal tourists started migrating to other places to avoid the monsoon and work on projects or life stuff elsewhere.  It’s the season of transition, of extra special cuddles, good times, and hopeful see-you-later’s.  Maybe that’s why the mangoes taste so good.  Their flavor carries us through to the next something in such a seductively sweet way.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there’s never a dull moment or person in Goa.  This place attracts the most technicolor folks from all around the world.  We’re just truly lucky that they come to our house sometimes.  Remember, people out there, it’s all about the little things. . .like shiny smiles, colorful clothes, good vibes, and dancing souls!  The love cup runneth over.  Wait, it’s a fountain and it never stops!!!

Okay, that’s it.  We’ve got heaps of magical things brewing behind the scenes right now and the winds of change are blowing. . .

I hope the winds of change and transition are blowing happily in your universe, too. . .wherever you are, near or far.  May you always be goan good!

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15 things I’ve learned from living ONE year in India

Well, people, it’s hard to believe, but I’ve officially been living in India for ONE WHOLE YEAR.  Whoa, dude.  Time flies, doesn’t it?  When you’re a kid an entire year seems like a lifetime, but as you get older, it’s really just a little blip in time.  Funny how that happens. So, I say this to all you dreamers out there. . .if you’re thinking about moving, or traveling, or doing something different, just go for it.  Time goes fast and you might as well do something with it, right?

I can’t say that this past year has been all peaches and cream, of course, because that would be a total lie, but it’s usually the way life goes no matter the geographical location. Living in India has taught me the simplest of joys and showed me the deepest of sorrows.

It has been an assault on my senses, on my mind, on my heart. . .

I know that the range and depth of emotions I feel in this crazy land, by this crazy land, for this crazy land will be etched into the tiny crevices of my soul for however many lives I may live. . .and no matter where I go, or what I do, mother India will always be a part of me now.

To reflect on the past year and share with all of you, I have put together a list of fifteen things I have learned in this confusing, beautiful, confronting, magical, absurd, sacred land.  Here they are:

 1. The Value of $1.00

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As I write this, the current exchange rate is 67 rupees to ONE U.S. dollar.  That sounds pretty great when you’re traveling and you want a good bang for your buck.  But let me tell you, when you are earning in rupees and *living* in India, it’s a whole different thing.

For instance, I’m a runner.  My shoes cost roughly 100 bucks.  That is 6,700 rupees.  SIX THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED.  That is more than what a lot of people make in one whole month and by a couple thousand.

You can get a meal for 60 rupees and you can get a daily maid for 150 rupees.  Just to make the equivalent of 30 bucks in a Western culture, some people have to work all day long or sometimes even several days, depending on what the job is.

In Goa, when a coconut falls to the ground, anyone within hearing distance knows that ten rupees is waiting.  Why?  Because that’s how much you can sell it for.  Ten rupees saved is ten rupees earned.  Who cares if that’s only FIFTEEN CENTS.  That is some serious respect for money, man.

2. Haggling Skills

If you’re human, it’s basically your birth right to get overcharged for pretty much everything in India, and if you’re some shade of white, you may just get triple overcharged.  I was not interested in the haggling system at all when I first arrived, but I must admit, it has turned into a fun game of getting the best deal now.  After all, it IS part of the culture and I am living on rupees and not an expensive vacation budget.

“Hello, my friend,” the seller says.

“Kitna?” I point to some thing, asking how much.

“900 rupees for you, special price,” the seller smiles. . . and the battle begins.

First of all, every price is special because every price is always different depending on the buyer.  Ah ha, tricky.  A good rule of thumb when haggling is to divide the first price in half and then take off another couple hundred rupees.  So, if something is 900, then you say 200.  Got it?  I know, I know, it seems too low, but don’t feel bad for anyone because nobody will sell something without making a profit.  And chances are, you’ll still get ripped off.  But, hey, when you grow up in a culture with so many people trying to get ahead, you can’t blame anyone for trying to get all the bang out of your bucks that they can.

3. Power cuts are Normal

The power goes out almost every day.  Sometimes it’s just for a few minutes and other times it’s for the whole day.  I have learned to make that smoothie when I think of it because you just never know when the blender won’t be able to turn on.  It can be really annoying, but ultimately, it happens so frequently you just get used to it and do something else.

The last time I was in Seattle, I met up with a friend to drink margarita’s at a favorite bar. There was apparently some kind of power outage in one of the neighborhoods earlier in the day.  The server greeted us by asking if our power went out.  “Did you lose power today, too?  And for how long?” she said, totally wrecked by the inconvenience.  She didn’t know that I was just visiting, of course, but I found it really funny.  People in India would look at me so strange if I asked them the same question.  It’d be more appropriate to ask if it DIDN’T go out.  Hahahahaha.

4. I can sleep Anywhere

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It’s pretty common to see people doing anything imaginable at any given time or place in India. . .including sleeping.  I have seen people sleeping in the strangest of places in the strangest positions all over the country and I’m officially one of them now.  The above picture is me at the train station in Kochin.  I was so damned tired I didn’t care where or how.  I just needed to sleeeeeeeep!

5. Personal Space is a Luxury

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I still have my moments when this notion is particularly jarring.  Like, when I’m standing at the counter of a shop and someone comes up so close behind me they touch me, or better yet, press against me.  It’s annoying every time.  Why are you touching me???  I scream that in my head but then I remember there’s no etiquette about personal space here because when there’s billions of people, there just isn’t time for things like that. Duh.  You’d spend your whole life in line if your manners had you wait.  Psshhh.

6. When an old road is paved, there’s some Dodgey Government business going on

Imagine the morning I woke up to find our cute little windy road all manicured with fresh gravel.  I thought to myself in wonder and marveled at our rustic neighborhood road looking so nice.  This was also just before the monsoon rolled in, which was weird for more than one reason.  Why would they put fresh gravel on the road just before the torrential rains?  Won’t it just get washed away? That’s when I learned that some new guy was running for some government position.  “That’s what happens”. . . I was told. . .”so it looks like they’re doing something for us and they get votes.”  Hmm.  Now, almost post monsoon, all I can see is potholes in our little road.  I guess the guy got into office.

7. Enjoy the Simple Things

Living in this little village by the sea, having frequent power cuts, and not being anywhere near the amenities of a big city, it really teaches me to enjoy the simple things.  I often revel in the view of our gorgeous sunsets, listening to the fingers of the palm tree leaves rattling in the wind.  Just before sunset bike rides through the village and tropical fields. . .incense wafting through the air. . .and my favorite doggies waiting for cuddles. . .Hi-fives from kids as I run by their houses. . .and looking for my next favorite old style Portuguese house amidst the jungle backdrop.

8. IST = Patience

What is IST, you ask?  Well, that’s what the timezone is referred to in the mother land. . .Indian Standard Time.  And it’s not just your normal time.  It’s reeeeeeaaaaallllllyyyy stretched out, like a rubber band sometimes.  If someone says that thing will be done on Tuesday, it might not actually be done until the following Tuesday. . . sometimes even longer.  Basically, things happen on their own pace around here and you are forced to develop a lot of patience.  Or just be pissed all the time, which a lot of people are, but I figure that’s no fun.

9. Monsoon means any other kind of rain is merely Child’s play

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I never thought I could be surprised by rain after living a decade in Seattle, but au contraire, I couldn’t have been more disillusioned.  When Indians talk about the monsoon they are referring to a kind of rain that sometimes doesn’t stop for weeks at a time. . .and you have to tarp and board every single nook and cranny just to survive. . .and even then the aftermath looks like that of some crazy war.  Yes, when it rains, it really rains.  It is torrential downpour that turns fields into lakes, bending palm trees to the ground, the venomous wildlife thrives, and the mold is something close to that of an organic horror movie.  Now, when I hear the word monsoon, my body shudders with grief and I get a tight feeling in my throat.

10. How to Say NO

“Hello, madam, I can take you here. . .” NO

“Hello, my friend, this is only 100 rupees. . .” NO

“I’m sorry, Delhi is closed.  I can take you somewhere else for good price. . .” NO

“Yes, madam, I have these plastic chairs here for you, special price. . .” NO

There are countless confrontations in this odd land where I have to stand my ground and just say NO!  I never was really good at that before, so I’m very thankful for the teachings. Being assertive in a culture like this is truly important for survival.

11. Shit Happens

In the past year, I have encountered several rounds of bad luck.  Maybe it’s because it’s the Year of the Monkey and I’m a Monkey and according to all the reading it says that Monkey’s have bad luck this year. . .but, anyway. . .I’ve had my share.  If  you’re traveling and you get an upset stomach and sulfur tasting burps, don’t worry, it’s just giardia and it goes away.  Get some medicine and maybe some charcoal tablets.  Oh yeah, and if you get bit by a dog and you’re wondering what to do. . .you have to get FIVE rabies shots.  Good news is, they’re pretty cheap and available in a lot of places.  I once even got hit by a motorcycle while on my morning run.  That bugger side swiped me, took me off my feet, and then me, him, and the bike skidded to the side of the road.  By the luck of the faeries, I must’ve floated, because I barely had a scratch on me.  Like I said, shit happens, but it gives me stories to tell.

12. A Smile can be Dangerous

Coming from the oh-so-bubbly norm of good ol’ America, it took me awhile to get used to not smiling at strangers.  In India, smiling at the wrong person could be seen as instigating some kind of sexual advances.  Um, no thanks.  It turns out just staring blankly is safer, but in some cases, just avoiding any eye contact in general is best.

13. The ART of Honking and walking/driving through CHAOS

Whether you’re in a car, walking along the road, or on a bicycle, being on the streets in India is a daunting experience.  There’s a lot of obstacles to dodge.  It takes some time getting used to it, but after awhile, you just sort of barrel right through the chaos with a sense of conviction.  It’s invigorating and pretty cool to be part of the perfectly choreographed mayhem.  Honking, on the other hand, is the way to communicate to everyone else around.  Honk, honk, I’m coming around the corner.  Honk, honk, I’m turning right.  Honk, honk, I’m coming up behind you.  Honk, honk, hellooooo!

14. For the Love of Cows

Oh, the cows.  I find their long eyelashes and stubborn ways sort of endearing, and after spending so much time with them in the past year, I kinda like their company.  I’m constantly amused seeing them in places least expected. . .like the never ending concrete roads instead of the lush green fields, or better yet, the beach. . .I guess that just means there’s good luck, and a few laughs, everywhere.

15. Knowing I’m Lucky

Traveling around India is a mind opening experience.  It breaks down everything you once thought, it assaults things you never knew could even be assaulted, and it shows you the good, the bad, the amazing, the disgusting, the magic, and the horrors of life.  It reminds me all the time that I’m a lucky girl. . .coming from a privileged country with abundant opportunities.

 

Have you been to India?  What things did you learn while traveling?

 

 

Anjuna, Goa Tales #1- Running in the Hood

It took me a couple weeks to work up the courage for a run in the neighborhood.  I’m not usually a person to let any kind of weather or terrain to get in between me and my passion for a good, long, hearty run, but I quickly realized the stakes were much more complicated in this little tropical paradise than what I usually encountered.

First, there’s the sun.  The glorious, hot, garish sun.  Though it is luxurious to live in a place so warm and rich with Vitamin D, the intensity by the magnificent Arabian Sea is very, very hot.  I mean, not hot like the Australian sun…..which is so dry it makes you feel like everything is cracking.  The hot here is an intensely humid heat.  It’s more like suffocating. . .in the sense that the air is so thick with moisture.  The plus point:  it’s super good for your skin and your hair, kind of like a daily sauna.  However, that means a run early in the morning or early in the evening were my only options, unless a heat stroke was my main goal.  Locals say that November and December get “cooler” so I’ll be curious to see what that means.

Then, there’s the dogs.  Dogs?  Yes.  There’s a lot of dogs here.  A lot.  Most of them are not domesticated, per se, and most likely don’t have “manners” like dogs in other countries.  Oh yeah, and for the most part, they never see anyone running.  And, well, I’d put my money on that most of them don’t have their shots.  Okay.  So now, that means there’s a gauntlet of wild, rabid dogs out there.  No problem.

There’s also tons of cows.  Everywhere.  While they move slow, and pose little threat, I’ve never really hung out with many cows.  I don’t know what they think of runners.  They don’t seem to notice anything else on the road–cars weave around them like they are invisible–but still, they are an unknown variable to be considered.

Lastly, the cars, mopeds, people walking, and a few goats.  Motor vehicles are a bit suspicious because most drivers get really close to everything around here.  The roads are small and drivers’ slide by things with only an inch of space sometimes. . .traffic depending, of course. The people walking and the goats get a ‘pass.’  At least there’s something ‘safe’ out there.

So one morning, I went for my first run at 9:30am.  There’s a soccer field about 3/4 of a mile from my house which seemed like a good option.  I put on my shoes with glee and confidence, made sure to wear my sun hat just in case, and set my gps watch.

A couple minutes down my road, I got accosted by some random dogs.  Since I felt rather prepared and confident for this scenario, I decided to use my lifelong animal skills to let them know who was boss. . .so I stopped and screamed in a loud, demonic voice expecting them to shiver.   HEY!  Nothing happened.  Then I yelled a second time.  HEY!  Finally, they did stop barking and left me alone, but they weren’t exactly scared like I thought they would be.

I managed to get to the soccer field in one piece.  But, lorrrrrrrd have mercy, the sun was already way too hot.  Note to self: I must leave earlier.  Anyway, I decided that since I actually made it to the soccer field, I’d at least get some laps in.

On my way back, almost collapsing from the heat stroke I tried so hard to avoid, I passed a cow.  It was a cute cow eating grass outside a pretty pink gate.  I didn’t think twice about my pace and just whizzed by. . .but, in a split second, the cute cow in my vanishing peripheral quickly became a RUNNING cow behind me.  AHHHHHH!  I need to run, I thought to myself, but then remembered I was already running. . .So I picked up the pace and left the cow in the dust.  Whew!

A few minutes later, I never felt so happy to see the Chill-Inn.  I survived and I rewarded myself with an entire litre of water.  Go me!

Amit’s mom, Jean, was outside on the terrace when I returned.  She asked me how my run was and if any dogs had chased me.  I told her, to my surprise, that the only animal that actually chased me was a freakin’ cow!  “A cow?” she said.   “I know, right?!”  Then we both laughed.  “Do know what to do when a dog chases you?” Jean said.

I thought long and hard about this.  The way she asked me seemed like she knew something that I didn’t, so I said “tell me.”

“Bend down to the ground and act like you’re picking up a stick,” Jean crouched down and demonstrated her words.

“Any kind of stick?” I said.

“No, just pretend you’re picking up a stick,” Jean said.

“Oh. . . .really?” I was dumbfounded.

“Yes.  All dogs are beaten with sticks, so they will run away real fast if they see you do that,” Jean said with a slight bobble.

I stashed her words in the forefront of my mind and headed to the shower.  A few days later, I put on my shoes and hit the road for my second attempt.  But this time, I went at 5:30 pm to try out the early evening obstacles.  While my first run only had a couple dogs in my way, this time of day seemed to be popular with everything.  Traffic, people, cows, and so many dogs–multiple gangs of dogs.

The first group of terrorizing canines approached me and started to chase.  Jean’s words lit up in the lighthouse of my mind.  Maniacally, I stopped running, bent down, and grabbed a really huge, invisible stick.  The pack of wannabe wolves vanished immediately.  Gone.  Poof.  It was like magic!  Hahaha, I laughed to myself, and kept running. A few minutes later, another pack of dogs was on the chase.  I grabbed the same stick, and Poof!  It was incredible!  It was amazing! The power of the invisible stick was so profoundly awesome, I felt like I just learned the secrets to the universe and I could do anything.  Mwah ha ha ha!

This second run was going swell.  I hit the main road to the soccer field and was about to pass a cow.  It started running but at least this time I was paying attention.  So I stopped, again, and walked slowly–as if not to bother the shanti bovine–and it started to charge me.  For a couple minutes, I played sideways ‘chicken’ with a cow on the opposite side of the road.  I didn’t think it was going to allow me to pass, but by some kind of mental power, I made it far away from the big beast.

To my distaste, the soccer field was filled with kids, and dogs, and guess what?  Cows!  It must’ve been prime time for their delicious grass dinner and the worst time for my run.  Ugh.  Note to self: never again at this time.  I didn’t even bother with one lap and headed back in the direction of the Chill-Inn.  Haylo McFly:1 The universe:1.

Two days later, I went out for my third run.  This time, I left at 7:30am AND with a camel pack of water strapped to my back.  To my surprise, not many dogs challenged the size of my invisible stick, and most of them were still sleeping as I passed through different territories.  There were no cows in sight, although I did hear a random ‘moo’ in the distance every so often, but so far, this time of day seemed to be perfect.  The sun was just right, too.

I got to my precious soccer field and enjoyed the interrupted terrain.

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A little slice of obstacle free heaven, isn’t it?  Except for the occasional child cutting through on a mission, I didn’t have to dodge anything.

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On my last lap, a guy riding a bike selling bread yelled in my direction, “Good for health!  Good for health!”  I smiled and bobbled my head.  It is, indeed.  At 8:30am, I headed back to the guesthouse and heard a rooster crowing.  Wait a second!  A rooster is like an alarm clock for the day.  How could this be?   I guess that proves EVERYONE sleeps in around this funny village–cows, dogs, roosters, and people, too.