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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Anjuna, Goa Tales #15–Monsoon 101: Pros and Cons

The monsoon season is finally here.  It’s wet, it’s unforgiving, and some days, I don’t think I’ll see a dry day ever again.  Heh.  It might sound funny to you, but I assure you your giggles are misconceived pleasantries, or my way with words is too good.

If we’re lucky, we get a day of sun, but mostly, it just rains all day long.  Just recently, we had two full weeks of nothing but rain.  I swear my anxiety grew with all the mold in my house. . .and on my precious clothes. . .and possibly in my brain, provoking some stir-crazy thoughts.  I just keep reminding myself to. . .be one with the mold, make friends with the mold, love the mold. . .because until the monsoon goes away, that green stuff that grows faster than I ever could imagine, is our seasonal best friend.  Loving the tropics.

Travelers beware: I wouldn’t recommend visiting Southern India June-September unless you want to play in the rain and make friends with mold, too.  If you’re looking for good places to visit, go to the North.  A lot of people spend this time in the Himalayas or places like Rajasthan and Varanasi.  Take my advice, dude.

For fun, I’ve been making a list of the good and the bad.  Since I don’t want to end this post with sarcastic complaints, I’ll start with the Cons first.

Monsoon Cons

  • Don’t do laundry!  Nothing dries–EVER!
    • I’ve dared to do laundry a few times and have only been tortured for DAYS as I pray the electricity won’t go out and my clothes can somehow dry underneath our exhausted fans. . .before the tenacious mold gets comfy again.
    • To counteract this issue: just wear the same thing over and over.
  • It’s all about the CROCS!
    • Now, I’ve never been a fan of the funny rubber shoes, but I have quickly figured out that in the monsoon season, these types of shoes are like gold.  They can get wet and they don’t slip.
  • Power cuts
    • Yep, that’s right, no electricity.  That means no fans, which really puts a “damper”on many things.  It goes out at least once a day and when you least expect it to.
  • Did I mention the MOLD?!
    • If it rains for days, you can actually stare at an object, and I swear, watch the mold grow right before your very own eyes.  Science geeks, you’d be in heaven, maybe.  For the rest of us, it’s a nightmare. . .especially for that sweet pair of suede boots. 20160625_110530
  • Flies
    • Huh? Flies? Yes.  I never thought flies would come around in such rainy weather, but they’re here in full force, and I think they all take refuge in our house.  They’re even the friendly kind that don’t mind walking on your face.  They, like the cows in India, have no shame.
  • Leaking windows
    • Yeahhhh. . . .this is a fun one that keeps us quite busy.  I’m officially a professional now at squeezing out towels.  We’ve even developed a super efficient system to squeeze out the most amount of water.

Monsoon Pros– YAY!

  • Mango season
    • If you’re a mango lover, you can’t beat the taste of this time of year.  Wow.  Mangoes never tasted sooooo good.  I’ve been baking, making smoothies, and eating as many as I can get my hands on.  20160627_161641
  • Everything is super GREEN and LUSH
    • In the other seasons, Anjuna is a red dirt dusty kind of place, but now, the jungle reigns.  Haha.  Dang, my puns are getting good.
    • I’ve been documenting the green growth on the field behind our house. . .
  • Clean Air
    • Along with the lushness that is happily invading our surroundings, all the rain makes the air so fresh and clean.  When it’s not monsoon, the roads get dusty and you can feel a difference in the air.
  • Cooler temperatures
    • Usually, it’s about 93 degrees every single day (or, 33/34 celsius).  Now, the average day time temperature is in the mid 80’s  (mid 20’s celsius), which is a nice break from the unrelenting heat.
  • Peacocks
    • Peacocks are always around in India–being the national bird and all–but right now, they are roaming around in herds and it’s amazing how high they can fly.  Did you know peacocks can fly?

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  • Nap time
    • Orion and Shanti have no problem sleeping the rainy days away.  I’m trying to learn how they ignore the flies for a good nap, but most living things in India can sleep in any position, at any time, no matter what.  These two are no exception.
  • Frogs
    • At night, the frogs sing.  They have this interesting noise that sounds like a smattering of single claps.  It’s definitely a foreign frog song to me.
  • Ocean song
    • I can hear the roaring ocean as if it is right next to our house.  It’s pretty cool to hear the crashing waves all the time now, but when you get close to the waters’ edge, the sea looks like it’s in emotional turmoil–churning up the sea bed into a crazy mixture of unknown murkiness.  I managed to score this shot on a calm day.

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After living a decade in Seattle, the “rainy” city, I have been officially schooled on what real rain can be like.  Some days it rains so hard here, there’s a wall of whiteness everywhere. . .almost fog ‘ish. . . but instead it’s like the rain drops fall down so hard and so fast they draw lines in the air.  Crazy stuff.

Other than that, the Chill Inn is pretty quiet in the off season.  There’s been a random trickle of lost travelers (who obviously didn’t realize it was the “OFF” season) and we’ve been having many communal dinners with people from all over the world.

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Anjuna, Goa Tales #14–An Expat remembers Prince

A few days ago, I was sitting at my kitchen counter hunched over with tears spilling down my face.  My maid, Geeta, walked in and immediately asked if I was okay.  She doesn’t speak English so it was very hard to convey why I was upset or even what it was about.  I tried several words before I found two that she understood and ended up mumbling through my sobs and tears “music. . . . .finished.”  She still had no idea what I meant, but this is it. . .

I was only 4 years old when Purple Rain came out, but thanks to all the Gods known to humans, I grew up in a family that praised music, praised talent, praised adventurous creativity and spirit, and praised that little purple man called Prince.  Memories of my childhood are laden with dance parties and movie nights where we watched and loved every sweet beat and revolutionary ruffle.

At that age, I didn’t really know the affect it would have on me three decades later.  I was just integrated into a world of never ending happiness where my Dad and I relentlessly watched Purple Rain like we were at the First Avenue Club, in the crowd, inspired and enamored by every wink, and kink, and riff like it was the first time every time.  We’d talk about the outfits, the guitar licks, the dance moves, and the chicks.  I even mastered the hand signals for “I Would Die For You” with such finesse and style that even Prince might’ve thought I was cool.

In my teens, I remember when he changed his name to a symbol.  It was weird, I guess, but it didn’t matter to me.  Those of us who loved him didn’t care what it said on the packaging.  It couldn’t erase all the years he showed us to love ourselves with reckless abandon no matter what outfit we wore.  It just gave all the skeptics something to get a head trip about.  Who dares to defy the boxes we all live in?  Who dares to challenge what we think is important in this life or what should matter?  Prince, that’s who!

It wasn’t until I saw him live for the first time that I understood what I lived and breathed for my whole life as the moxie in my soul.  In August, 2004, in Detroit, I went with my mom to his show.  We had eighth row floor seats in a massive stadium.

The stage had a solitary, white, swivel chair that he sat in while chatting to everyone.  I don’t remember what he said, exactly, but I remember that his energy commanded nothing but love.  He was bashful, silly, funny, sexy, witty, and as he swiveled in that chair, I thought that he was made up of the kind of magic that could make anyone of any age fall in love with him.  And I don’t mean in a sexual way.  I mean in a spiritual/guru/god kind of way.  Like Amma gives hugs, Prince performed, and when he sang “Purple Rain” we were all baptized together–dipped in a deep, purple pool of love and acceptance.

That was the first time I saw him.  He even had Morris Day from The Time join the stage.  The experience gave us all a glimpse of what that First Avenue Club would’ve been like, and I’d be lying if I said it was anything other than fucking awesome.  At the end of the show, we even got the Musicology album for free.

Prince treated his fans like royalty and he always had the most talented musicians on stage.  As if the mere presence of that magical man wasn’t enough, he’d throw in other people like the cherry on top of the purple sundae.  Shelia E, Morris Day, Larry Graham, Maceo Parker. . .not to mention uncountable talented female musicians and dancers on every tour over the years.  Prince’s stage was an open space for expression and he was a gracious host to artistic dreaming.   

As a promise to the universe, and myself, I ended up seeing Prince three more times.  Each time I got the jitters while getting dressed for the show.  It’s hard to pick an outfit suitable for a Prince, but he inspired all of us to adorn ourselves for the occasion.  Three more times I learned how amazing it is to be a woman, to be different, to be fearless and creative, to not care what other people think.  Three more times I felt like the luckiest person in the world to witness such an immense force of love.

Prince was a soldier of love.

It’s been six days since he left this Earth.  I have to admit, it’s been hard, real hard.  I wake up in the morning hoping to hear that it’s all a big, stupid rumor.  I guess my heart just doesn’t want to believe in this tragic loss.

Sure, I didn’t really know Prince.  But I grieve for the part of myself that he reflected.  I know I’m not the only one.  Letting him go means WE  have to do the work now.  We have to be a little more fierce, more daring, more fun, more creative, and true to ourselves.  And we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.  So, let’s do this thang.  Prince wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Hey, look me over,
Tell me do u like what u see?
Hey, I ain’t got no money,
But honey I’m rich on personality
Hey, check it all out,
Baby I know what it’s all about
Before the night is through
U will see my point of view
Even if I have 2 scream and shout
Baby I’m a star!”  –Prince
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anjuna, Goa Tales #13–The Canine Revolution of Running in India

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. . .

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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. . .  20160329_080000

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. . .

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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. . .

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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!

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anjuna, Goa Tales #7–Ping Pong’s Legendary Hippie Walk

Okay, okay, so there’s beach stuff here, and parties, and the usual “vacation” amenities and things to do. . . but what other stuff is there?  If you’re the kind of person who loves a good hike with stunning views and serendipitous company, then Ping Pong’s legendary hippie walk is the THING to do.  It’s a hike from Anjuna to Baga, which is less than 5 miles by how the crow flies, and 2 hours on the rugged, scenic path we walked instead.

Did I say Ping Pong? Yes, I did.  Ping Pong and Coco are my new technicolor friends.  They live down the street from us and we get to experience their magic from time to time.  Besides the legendary hike, Ping Pong hosts several live jam open mic nights at different bars in Anjuna. . .some of them with views of the ocean, some with delicious organic food.  If Ping Pong and Coco are there, you can be sure you’ve found the right moment.

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They have been coming to Anjuna for decades and host this legendary walk 2 times a season for free. . . anything extra you’ll have to haggle for!  The hike starts near the Chill-Inn and Roadhouse Hostel and Ping-Pong takes you down pathways that wind between old Portuguese homes, mango trees, and then up and over a small “mountain” that overlooks all of Anjuna and the mystical Arabian Sea.

We had around 13 people in our friendly group from multiple countries, spanning many ages, all from different walks of life. . .

The view from the top was amazing.  Most of Anjuna isn’t visible underneath the palm tree canopy.  It still looks like a plot of remote jungle resting near the sea. . .hard to imagine all the happenings under the green.

On the other side of the hill, you can see Baga in the distance and it looks like Cancun compared to our peaceful little Anjuna village.  Making the trek down was steep but with epic views of beauty.

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If you find yourself in the area sometime, I suggest you check out this hike.  It’s a great way to meet new people, hosted by some of the coolest cartoons I know, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!  xo

Anjuna, Goa Tales #3–Something to fantasize

I know there’s a lot of you out there approaching winter.  Summer has become a distant memory and forgotten warm clothes have been resurrected.  For some of you, panic filled thoughts enter your mind like an old friend knocking on the door out of the blue. . .wondering when you’ll see the sun again, how much snow may fall, and how you manage to stay in a place that gets so effen cold. . . Every.  Single. Year.

And then, visions of warmer places become salvation.  You start to fantasize about being on a beach, drinking cocktails, swimming in the warm sea, and taking a break from the marshmallow jackets and freezing nights.

Even if you’re the type who loves winter, I’m thinking of you now, too.

I went on a walk last night and saw so many magical views, I thought I’d tantalize your mind a bit.  If you need some winter salvation, inspiration, or a new dream to dream, here’s some good ideas. . .

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The ocean is calling you……..

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Whether it is the actual ocean, or just something that makes you happy, know that it IS whispering…..and you should listen.

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After my walk, I got blessed by the setting sun. . .

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“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.  Hold fast to dreams, For when dreams go, Life is a barren field, Frozen with snow.” (Langston Hughes)

All of these views are from walking around Anjuna.  Happy dreaming everyone!

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.