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.

20160329_080947

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.

20160929_101851

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.

20160331_075129

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).

20170530_100202

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. . .

20170314_183047

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. . .

20170201_182418

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!)

20170324_162819

Screenshot_2017-04-26-17-11-17

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!

20161214_172708

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!

20170314_183036

 

 

 

Love in Hampi, India

What would you do in the name of love?  Would you hire a magical monkey to build a bridge of rocks across the ocean to have your one true love rescued?  And where would you get such mystical rocks?

Wait, I know. . .

I know a place with rocks that pile on top of each other in inexplicable ways–daring the laws of gravity and humanity, carrying the spirits of the elders in their smooth and playful shapes.  These hard sponges of energy tell the kind of stories you can only feel in your body, in your soul, in the crevices of yourself that you don’t even know. . .yet!

This place is called Hampi.  It’s an ancient village that was once one of the richest cities in the world.  Today it is rich with experience and wonder. . .and what remains are the remnants of a culture, perhaps, long forgotten.

We got whispers of a Rainbow Gathering happening near Hampi (check out my post The Valley of Home here if you don’t know what I’m talking about), so we rallied our group of fantastic traveling faeries (see post The Good-Good Life if you’re intrigued) to meet up with us for a grand adventure.  And a grand adventure it was, indeed.  Btw, the rainbow gathering moved 800km away, so we stayed in Hampi.

We left Goa before sunrise to get an early start on our 9 hour drive across the state of Karnataka.  Most of the drive went through arid countryside decorated with small villages just often enough to keep things interesting.  People gathered at watering holes with special receptacles.  Women and children gathered at slabs of rocks used for washing clothes.  Sometimes we’d pass groups of men sitting at desolate bus stops waiting for nothing but a good conversation.

Village after village, we whizzed by in our orange time machine, Dinky-Doo, and glimpses of other realities faded into the dust.  Half way through the journey, we stopped in a big city called Hubli and had the best South Indian breakfast for a whole 20 rupees.  Yep.  That’s only about 30 cents, dude.  Win!

But, hours later when Hampi appeared in the horizon, it suddenly felt like we were on a different planet.  Gigantic rocks piled high and strategically like some posse of giants just finished a grueling game of Jenga.  I swear dinosaurs roamed these lands.  I never stopped believing there just might be one coming around the rocks at anytime.  The misplaced palm trees also give it a stone age (haha) meets Jurassic park kind of look.

Hampi is divided by a glorious river and the GPS told us our guesthouse was on the wrong side.  Woops.  Couldn’t Hanuman make a bridge across the tiny river while he was making that huge one in the ocean?!  What gives, monkey god?!  So we had to drive more than an hour down to the next town where the only bridge was to get to the other side.  Recurring tip: Nothing is easy in India.

20170113_131955

The two sides of Hampi are quite different.  One side is filled with ruins and temples and the other side (nicknamed “Hippie Island”) is bohemian guesthouses and rice paddies.  You can only cross the river by boat and it’s a whole 20 second ride for 10 rupees.

However, when we arrived at Nargila Guesthouse, I was hypnotized by the postcard views and the sight of my faerie tribe. . .

20170112_151533

Our room, I must admit, was not my favorite in India, but it was peak season and really busy and we were lucky to get one at all.  The restaurant part also made up for anything the room was lacking.  It was similar to the ones in Kheerganga which you can read about here. But to reiterate, it’s a whole floor of cushions and low tables so you can literally lounge around all day and order stuff from the restaurant.  If you’re wanting to catch up on a good book, do some writing, or play cards all afternoon, the rice paddies in the background provide the perfect postcard view for any time of day.

Hampi Tip:  The Nargila Restaurant is worth a visit, especially since one of the hosts, Ganga, is a lovely guy.  He makes your visit very cozy and the place makes the best banofee pie in India, I swear.  So, it’s worth it to check out for a meal or two, or even an afternoon, but maybe stay in another place if you want super clean rooms.  It depends on your needs/wants while traveling.

Every morning we got to watch a local gang of monkeys doing their morning ritual of “monkeying around” on the closest tree line.  It was pretty darn good coffee time TV, people.  Every so often one of them would jump on the roof of the restaurant kitchen and cause a little trouble, but mostly they stayed in the trees.

20170111_105801

Our first night in Hampi we spent celebrating reuniting with our friends.  It involved lots of good conversation and even more cashew Feni.  What the heck is cashew feni?  It’s a local alcohol made only in Goa from the fruit of the cashew. . .kinda like a moonshine. Heh heh.  Yes, we stashed some in our little Dinky-Doo just in case.  Needless to say, shenanigans were had and even a dance party by the river unfolded quite, um, naturally.

Pardon the blur in the photos.  In my state of, ahem, bliss, I can’t believe any pictures are recognizable at all.  We did a fine job of spreading some magic on those river rocks.  I’m sure they’ll remember us for a long time. . .

After a day of rest and lounging at the Nargila restaurant, we headed to the Monkey Temple on the full moon.  January 12th was the first full moon of 2017 and it was in Cancer. . .which basically means that it was a more intense full moon than usual and it was said to invoke a lot of new beginnings for this brand new year.  I’ll take it.  Anything is better than the shitstorm of 2016.

For me, personally, going to the Monkey Temple on the full moon was also very auspicious and special.  In case you’re just joining my little universe, I’m a monkey and the year of the monkey is just about to end, so I literally got to say goodbye to my challenging year at my very own temple.  It seemed almost too appropriate and perfect that I honor the growth and changes in such a profound way.  But, it wasn’t easy, of course, physically or mentally.

It all started with 575 steps up.  Way up.  To the top of a cliff.  See that white building on the top of the rocks?  That’s it.  Ooh, and that’s Ela, our American friend.  She’d already been to the temple but joined us for a second visit.  Hanging with her is like eating some good ol’ American comfort food.  Wait, does that sound weird?!  I mean, I don’t get to hang with a lot of Americans. . .okay, I NEVER get to hang with Americans, so her presence was a real Midwestern treat!

20170112_124343

We quickly became part of the pilgrimage, making the climb up to pay our respects.  The steps were steep–a switchback around and between giant boulders.  The old men and women in our procession would sometimes drop on all fours and climb that way because it was so tough for them.  I didn’t find it that difficult thanks to all my running, and my glorious youth, but it was definitely a sight to see.  There were even spots where entire groups of people would rest and catch their breath, all while smiling and laughing at the people still climbing up.  It was pure comedy while we all huffed and puffed our way to the promised land.

There was a countdown painted on the rocks at random spots so you knew how many more steps it was to the top.  I also loved some of the paintings along the way, like this one of Hanuman below.

20170112_133647

Everything was fine and dandy approaching the temple. . .

20170112_130546

And just as I turned the corner of the last rock, my damn foot vein puffed up with shooting pains  (a healed injury from August, 2016).  Ugh.  I don’t know if it was the sudden elevation, or an actual physical manifestation of the monkey year pulsating on the bottom of my foot, or just freakin’ coincidence, but it pushed out a whole bucket of tears in less than 2 whole seconds.  As if I’m not already a scene being a white chick there, but a crying white chick is even better.  Guhreat!

At most Temples in India, you have to remove your shoes because the area is considered holy and shoes are dirty.  I personally never leave my shoes in the designated area. Instead, I carry them covertly with me so they don’t get stolen.  I’m not saying that all shoes get stolen, of course, I’m just saying I don’t want to take the chance because it does happen and I really love my shoes.  A lot.  They’re worth a ton in rupees, man, and that’s all I’m gonna say.

20170112_133426

So, I know it was in the middle of the day and it was the full moon, but still I expected to see at least one naughty monkey somewhere hiding in the shadows or en route to a napping spot.  Nope.  A big fat nope.  Not one single monkey in sight for me, the monkey, in the year of the monkey, at the monkey temple.  Hahahahahaha.  The only thing I got was a resurrected foot injury and some sweet pics.  Maybe the monkeys were letting me enjoy my temple all to myself because usually the place is filled with them in every direction.  I like to think of it like this.  Thanks, Hanuman.

The next day, we braved the river blessed by our magical dance party and paid 10 rupees to get to the other side.  The river is only so big and it’d be easier to have just a foot bridge across it, but since this is India and nothing is logical, you have to take a boat. . .and better yet, since they don’t want to waste fuel on the 20 second ride across, you have to wait ages for the boat to fill up.  It’s annoying and funny.  Indians will do anything to save a couple rupees.  I can’t decide if they’re genius entrepreneurs or horrible cheapskates.  Maybe both.

Our lovely Dutch babies, Jasper and Femke, joined us for the afternoon.  They are on a mega traveling expedition around the world and also have a blog.  It’s written in Dutch, but you can check it out here.

At the time we were crossing the river, there was a whole heap of Indians on the other side bathing and having a good time.  They got a kick out of me taking a photo as we zoomed by and posed accordingly.

20170113_131737

The view from the other side looked like this. . .

20170113_132110

The other side of the river was completely different from “Hippie Island.”  It almost looked like scenes from Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider in certain areas.  I never saw anything like it before in my life.  Wowie zowie!

img-20170115-wa0010

The temples and ruins were said to be 600-800 years old.  Some of them were made with such huge slabs of rock that, still today, no one knows the technology that they used to create it all.  I envisioned an archaic regal society–filled with vibrant colors and different smells–as I scanned the old buildings around me.  There was an energy in the air that felt like memories of the majestic life it once had.

img-20170107-wa0001

20170113_135723

I couldn’t resist a little photo session.  I mean, when you come this far, you’ve gotta take advantage of the views, right?!

 

That big pyramid temple in a lot of the above pictures might be the most famous in the area, called Virupaksha temple, and up close it has the most intricately erotic carvings. You know, the kind that remind you of the Kama Sutra and probably the sort of fun that this ancient society once had. . .obviously, since they freakin’ carved it in that much stone.  Geez.  Hehe.

20170113_140135

In a popular courtyard area, surrounded by temples, I was happily surprised to finally see some sweet cows being loved.  I know what you’re thinking.  Don’t Hindus worship cows? But really, in my humble opinion, and as I’ve stated in previous posts, they are among the most mistreated beings in this huge country.  However, at this spot, there were two lucky cows given so much love.  People actually waited in line to pet them and even rub their feet.  I’m sure they were just hoping to get some food, but cows are pretty affectionate animals and they deserve cuddles too.

20170113_1332130

There was some kind of ritual going on in one of the buildings that echoed out of the stone columns.  Kids danced to music and plenty of visitors checked out the happenings.  We stayed out in the courtyard watching the monkeys rival over turf politics while listening to the sounds of the beautiful music echoing all around us.

It got a bit more interesting when a tiny puppy tried to steal a bag of potato chips from one monkeys’ turf.  I thought I was going to witness a nasty fight, but the puppy survived unscathed, at least, for the moment. . .

20170113_133509

After a day of exploration, we went to the river for sunset. . .

20170112_173828

One of the things I love to document when I travel is the street art, or graffiti, and Hampi had a few good pieces around.

The day before we left Hampi, all of the locals were getting ready for some festival at one of the temples.  I don’t know the name of it but it’s basically fancy chalk drawings that women do outside their homes and businesses for good blessings and festivities.  They don’t use stick chalk, though, they use powdered chalk. . .kinda like colored sand that they drop from their hands as they move in a particular pattern.

20170113_173756

Technically, you’re not supposed to walk or drive on any of the designs because it’s just rude and bad luck and so not cool, but of course some idiot drove on one and it started a big fight on the street.  The old lady was pretty pissed off that her sacred design was defiled.  I was just glad it was an Indian and not a Westerner.  We’re not all white devils after all.  Yay!

Four days later, we said a truly final goodbye to our special friends.  We just happen to catch a good part of their travels before they left for other places, but I know deep in my heart, we will all be together again someday.  I’m very thankful for all the fun we’ve shared and it’s only five minutes until the next cuddle.

Our last night in Hampi was quiet without the faeries.  As they headed on a bus ride towards Bangalore, we got a good night’s rest to make that long journey back to our beloved rainbow penthouse. . .in the jungle village by the sea.

I will never forget Hampi and the reminder of the great spirit within all of us.  Those magnificent rocks are true gurus in the art of how to rock.  Aho!

20170113_174534

 

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?

20160625_180903

  • 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.

20160620_173942

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.

20160602_190649

 

2016 Rainbow Gathering in the Parvati Valley, Himachal Pradesh, Kheer Ganga

20160511_153844

“When the earth is ravaged and the animals are dying, a new tribe of people shall come unto the earth from many colors, classes, creeds and who by their actions and deeds shall make the earth green again. They will be known as the warriors of the rainbow.” Native American Prophecy

It was a perfect sunny morning.  Puffy white clouds decorated the bluest sky and the hills were definitely alive!  We set off on a hike to the Rainbow Gathering about 30 minutes from Kheer Ganga.  It was, ummmm, totally gorgeous. . .

20160512_103846

20160512_104032

We probably took longer than 30 minutes to do the hike because we had our packs, there were too many good views to marinate in, and the incline/altitude made it a bit tricky for everyone.  Snow capped mountains were almost within reach, herds of sheep and goats roamed on their luscious salad buffet meadows, and the energy of the Himalayas settled into all of our souls.  Slowly, slowly. . .we made our way Home.

20160512_104715

I love how nature adapts.  These goats with their majestic, long hair and magical horns. . .wow, huh?!  I never got tired of seeing them roam around the hills, listening to their funny sounds echo through the valleys.  They all have such different voices.  It’s almost like you can tell their personality by the sound they make.

The Rainbow Gathering had about 70 people already camping when we arrived.  People from Russia, Canada, Spain, USA, India, Germany, England, Ireland, Israel, Ecuador, Belarus, Netherlands, and many more places. . .gathered in this beautiful meadow and shared community duties, hosted workshops, cooked communal meals, made art, went hiking, played music. . .connecting and reflecting about this giant, yet so small, world we live in.

We scored a sweet spot next to a wonderfully, huge rock.  It was our wilderness abode for two weeks and it served us very well.

20160523_182123

20160515_153715

Days in the mountains went slow.  We created a morning space by our groovy rock and a different crowd came every morning for chai and biscuits, and of course, boundless good conversation.  In the afternoons, the shepherds came through our meadow so their flocks could graze.  It was like a tsunami of pungent aroma that overtook our city of tents and it was awesome!

None of the animals seemed to mind me hanging out while they ate around me.  Some of the goats gave us a really good show, too.  They loved our special rock and climbed all over it.  It was damn good nature TV, people.  Go to the mountains, wherever you are.  I promise you will find magic if you look for it.

20160516_135035

There was also heaps of cows.  No surprise, though, considering this is India and cows have a way of infiltrating every inch of the Mother land.  Unlike the afternoon wave of goats and sheep, the cows were just around all day long.  Amit carved a special stick for our camp so we could practice our Krishna skills. . .aka. . .cow herding.  If you let the cows graze too long near your tent, you might get an unwanted cow pie or piss puddle, and well, I wasn’t into that much Nature TV.  Let’s get real.

Loud grunts and strange noises came out of any person with the special stick.  It wasn’t long before the cows got familiar and knew to move along.  Several surrounding tents, however, didn’t have such savvy tenants and got robbed or peed on.  The cows in India are quite ambitious, too, and will even try to inhale your one of a kind Pashmina.  They have no shame!

Nights at the Rainbow Gathering begin with a communal gathering for dinner.  We hold hands, sing silly songs, and ohm like we mean it.  Afterwards, any announcements are made and then music around the main fire goes into the wee hours of the night.  It sounds a bit, you know, bliss-ninny’ish, but singing those songs with people from all over the world does something to your heart.  I swear.  We had tons of Indian tourists visiting the hot springs in Kheer Ganga who came over to see what the Rainbow Gathering was about and a lot of them were supercharged by our dinner ritual.

20160523_182042

A few days into the gathering, one of my dearest friends, Raj, arrived to join in on the mystical mountain experience.  He had never been to this part of his own country or spent much time camping in the mountains, or in general, and he found our camp with a hypnotized look on his face. . .freshly mesmerized and shocked by the massive beauty present all around us, and probably exhausted from the insane hike up.

20160523_160440

We made lots of new friends. . .shared hugs, visits to the hot springs, evening dances under the starry sky. . .

20160522_184814

20160519_165857

I think it was the cleanest I’ve ever been while camping.  Visits to the hot springs were so nice.  Rejuvenating soaks, clean clothes, and an awesome hike every single time.  Himalayan living treated us well.  Now I see why Shiva stuck around for 3000 years.

One of the coolest encounters on the mountain was with an old shepherd.  She didn’t see the point in discussing her name, but she told us stories of the cows, the plants, and her two daughters who are married to foreigners.  She would hang at our camp while she was wandering the hills and we happily fed her biscuits and snacks in trade for her company.  I have no idea how old she was, but the wrinkles on her face reminded me of the lines on a  road map, and those highways had stories you couldn’t dare to dream.

20160519_170833

The days melted away and the Himalayas took its’ toll.  Dry skin, sunburned noses, sore feet, sore muscles from the endless hills in every direction. . .but we never stopped having fun, laughing with the global community, and sharing love with our family. . .

No matter where you are in the world. . .if you want a new experience, to meet different kinds of people, to indulge in beautiful nature. . .go find a Rainbow Gathering.  They happen all over the world and you can find whatever journey you might need at this very moment in life.  It’s that kind of magic.  It’s that kind of goodness.  And it’s just waiting for YOU to find it!

20160518_184632

Loving you, family!  Thanks for the hugs, the laughs, the tears, the memories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The KheerGanga Pilgrimage in the Himalayas

If you want to feel like you’ve left this world and gone to another planet, go to the place where Shiva meditated for 3000 years.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  Maybe you’ll even soak up some of his deep thoughts in the hot springs while you’re there.

But, where?

In a land far, far, very far away. . .in the state of Himachal Pradesh. . .near China and Kashmir, is a place almost 10,000 feet up in the Himalayas in the Parvati Valley called Kheer Ganga.

From Goa, it only took us TWENTY-SIX hours on a train, a TEN hour overnight bus ride, a THREE hour local bus ride, and a FOUR hour hike to get there, but it was all worth it.  By my calculations, I think that makes it a true pilgrimage.

So, there I was again in good ol’ smelly Delhi.  It’s not a place I like to linger, especially since the last time I was there with my husband his wallet got picked, but all roads lead to Delhi, it seems.  We timed it just so that when we got off our 26 hour train ride from Goa we only had a couple hours in Delhi before we jumped on an overnight bus to Bhuntar.  It was just enough time to eat at a fave restaurant and pick up some warm clothes for evening temperatures in the mountains.  I even picked up a random Turkish traveler, Cem, to join us on the pilgrimage.  He had a wanderlust in his eyes and a backpack on his back and he gladly accepted the spontaneous adventure.

The three of us gathered our gear and followed a man through the stinky streets until we were told to wait at a certain spot for the bus.  It was a classic scene where groups of travelers were herded into clumps waiting for buses to different places.  Like usual, we waited, and then waited, and waited some more.  Indian Standard Time.  What to do?!

Travelers beware: When you book a bus trip in India, it will often come at a much different time than promised, and may even be a completely different kind of bus than advertised.  Heh heh.  As they say, Ye He India!

I did, however, manage to catch some good shots from the bus window. . .

20160510_173721

We settled into our seats, watched the crazy world of Delhi through the windows, and after another chunk of IST, the bus finally moved.  We passed the infamous garbage mountain on the outskirts of the city–burning and smoking like a scene from some apocalyptic movie–and shortly after, I fell asleep.  I didn’t wake up until the bus stopped for dinner time.

Around 7am the next morning, we reached Bhuntar.  It was grey and raining and the thought of trekking in that kind of weather wasn’t looking too good.  A whole group of us got off at the same stop and haggled for a long time with a guy offering a taxi ride, but then we all decided to go cheap and take the local bus instead.  All the seats were taken, of course, but the roof was an option if we wanted to sit with our bag. . .in the rain.

20160511_072231

The next 3 hours were on a bumpy, windy dirt road that went up and down through mountain villages.  It was picturesque and the loud Hindi music reminded me of riding the buses in Nepal.

We got off in Barshani.  A lot of people like to stop in Kasol.  It’s a really good option to do last minute shopping if you need warm clothes or other things before going up to Kheer Ganga.

The weather was still grey and rainy and we were totally exhausted from non-stop traveling.  Food first was our mission before we made any arrangements or plans to do the hike.  Aloo paratha with yogurt, veggie chow mein, and some really strong chai helped, but the 3 of us still weren’t convinced about the hike.  Do we rest and try the next morning or do we just keep going until the end?  Was it even possible in our current state?  And what about the rain?

In this moment of uncertainty, another group of travelers passed us, and by chance, one of them was a French woman Amit and I met last year in Australia,  Nikki.  The world is truly a small place.  Once you get out there, you can’t believe how often you find the same people all over the world.  Anyway, Nikki was on her way to Kheer Ganga, too.  Her presence was enough motivation to shift our energy and give us some oomph to get our butts back in gear.

Other than trekking to one of the most beautiful places in world for a great adventure and some outdoorsy time, we were also on a mission to get to a little thing called a Rainbow Gathering.  Do you know what that is?  It started in the USA in 1972 as a gathering of people on National land to create an intentional community of peace, love, and freedom.  These gatherings happen all over the world in most countries and attract people from every class, creed, culture, and color.  It’s a great place to meet the global family.  We call it Home.

The hike to Kheer Ganga is known to be quite intense so it’s pretty common to hire a porter for your bags.  I was a bit shocked at the idea because I’ve never done a hike with such a strange luxury, but it didn’t take more than 2 seconds to convince me.  For 850 rupees, I got to “enjoy” the hike.  Plus, it helped the local families earn an income.  Win!

And the journey continued. . .

20160511_115006

Now, I’m a fairly experienced hiker and have visited many mountains, but fifteen minutes into our hike, I was so freakin’ glad we had our amazing porter.  The trail was steep!  The air was hard to breathe.  The views were breathtaking.

20160511_121902

20160511_123330

Our amazing porter practically ran up the trail ahead of us.  His fitness level was nothing short of incredible.  Along the trail, there’s little villages filled with chai shacks.  If you need water or snacks or toilet paper, it’s there.  Our porter would wait for us to catch up with a chai in his hand and a big smile across his face.  I think he got a kick out of watching us not-so-in-mountain-shape people huff and puff our sluggish bodies up the mountain.  He’d give us a nod, wait a few minutes, and then take off up the mountain again.

If you can’t tell from the pics, the trail spends a lot of time drifting along a precarious ledge. . .filled with huge rocks. . .and steep hills to fall down.  We walked through orchards, passed makeshift fabric shrines, Indian families dressed in gorgeous outfits with pretty shoes, and a waterfall or two.

20160511_13164020160519_170331

The above adorable little girl actually turned her head when she saw me take out my camera, but you can still see how cute she is.  This village had amazing wooden structures set amidst the greenery along the cliffs.  It looked like a postcard in every direction.

Just when we thought the hike couldn’t get any steeper, we looked ahead and stared UP at a wall of green and rocks.  Heh heh.  Yep, that’s a trail.  At this point, I was really really really glad to not have my pack because I thought for sure I’d be using all fours to get up this part.  Whew.  Kheer Ganga better be good, dammit!

On top, the views were stunning. . .

20160511_135135

20160511_140904

By now, we were on the home stretch, but it didn’t get any less challenging or beautiful.  We crossed a waterfall and the incline was relentless, but we kept at it. . .slowly, slowly, as they say around here. . .and eventually we made it to the top.

Kheer Ganga isn’t much of a village. It’s actually just a handful of restaurants with lodging accommodations on the side of a crazy steep hill.  The infamous hot springs sit at the top, so just when you think you’ve reached, your Stairmaster experience keeps on giving.  Prepare to work every muscle in your mind and body to get to this place.

20160511_154459

Rather than hiking straight over to the Rainbow Gathering. . .which was about 30 minutes over in the next valley. . .I thought we should all treat ourselves and our muscles to a much deserved soak in the hot springs water after such a grueling journey.  The men’s side is open and the women’s side is boarded for privacy.  It’s nice to not get the stares and have the option to soak nude.  There’s also a separate section in both areas to do your laundry.

The soak was ahhhhhmazing!  Afterwards, I felt like I was tripping from being so exhausted, so we decided to stay in one of the restaurants for the night and head to the Rainbow Gathering in the morning.  It was a good decision for all of us in our delirious states.

While the hot springs are a main attraction, Kheer Ganga is also famous for being a stoners’ paradise.  It’s a mecca for the world’s best hash, or as they call it ‘charas,’ and the restaurants are designed so the entire floor is cushions with low tables and anyone can lie around, get stoned, and order food and chai.  In the night, they bring out pillows and blankets and the whole restaurant becomes one, big, sleepover party.  It’s pretty cool.  It reminded me of a bed-in, but without the protest.

20160512_082021

With red eyes and no energy, I passed out in my cozy sleeping bag in the middle of the evening shennanigans, but oh what a sleep I had!  The next morning, I woke up fresh as a daisy and without sore muscles thanks to the magic of the hot springs.  And after chai and some breakfast, we continued over to the next valley to get Home.

20160519_173222

 

 

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. . .

20160329_084509

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. . .

20160331_080419

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. . .

20160329_080435

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!

20160329_083731

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.

20151204_173921

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.

20151204_173409

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