We left the Ashram the day after Amma did. We were making our way to Goa and it was going to be a long bike ride. 750km long. And it was getting hotter. We were undettered! From the Ashram we set off, having to get on a small wooden boat with our bikes, which was fun. The first day we biked another 70Km to a town that we found when it hit 4pm. We stopped riding around that time so, we never had to scramble to find a room in the dark. After a restless sleep- the room was found had hard mattress covered in plastic, only a sheet and lots of mosquitoes-- we set out for another ride. The plan was to head back to Kochi, another 50 Km away, rest for a night or two and then continue on the journey to Goa. However, the ride didn't go that well. First, the already hot weather got hotter. The sun was unbearably hot. Second, the drivers in India are insane. The driving in Vietnam was chaotic but, everyone respected each other. In India, there was no such respect. Every car, bus and truck drove 100km/hr while weaving in and out of traffic and around turns. It was NUTS. We were really concerned one or both of us would get hit. And then I got side swiped by a car. Luckily, I was okay but we were both shaking from the event. We were so shaken and burnt out from the punishing sun, when we got to Kochi we decided to call it quits on the bikes and do the rest by train. We were bummed but, our safety was more important.
Our train from Kochi 'to Goa was going to take 12 hours so, we decided to have some luxury and book the 3AC car. We got AC, bunks with sheets and pillows (all very clean) to lay on and food! It was heaven. It made the train ride that ended up taking about 16 hours go by quickly. And on this train ride, Guy was mostly ignored. He did have one fan and the man gave us his homemade jackfruit chips! It was really fun and a much easier way to travel the 700km.
We decided to head to Arambol, which is North Goa. We heard that South Goa was more partying and North Goa was more yoga/open mics. When we got off the train, it was about 6am. We had no idea where we were going-- our plan was always get there and figure it out! but, by the time I went to the bathroom Guy had found a friend for us to split a cab with down to Arambol. The man we split the cab with had been traveling to Arambol for 15 years and gave us the lay of the land. He recommend a spot right on the beach and where to go. These fateful meetings are the best part of traveling.
The Laughing Buddha was the hostel our friend recommend and where we stayed our entire time. It was right on the beach and had cute, shabby beach shacks that were very budget friendly. Perhaps too budget friendly because rats ate the crotch out of two pants, one pair of shorts and my wooden cutlery. When I complained to the owner he shrugged and said, "that's India". I was pissed! But, he was right. We could have left and paid more but, rats were everywhere! So, we stayed and I kept all my clothes packed inside my bag.
Arambol is a weird place. It is like a year round Burning Man. Everywhere you looked there was another expat flyer offering their various healing practices. There were expats studying yoga and offering teacher training and musicians who didn't make it in their home country, making a living doings gigs around town. Arambol felt like the place to go if you're an aging hippie he never pursued their dream of being a reiki healer. No shade on hippies (am on) or Reiki (love it). There is also a lot of techno. Many a night we fell asleep to blasting techno until 2am. So much for not being the party side of Goa.
I did take two yoga classes, and one acro yoga class with Guy, with one teacher and they were the best yoga classes I've ever taken. I had planned on heading to a vinyasa class but, when I turned up at the studio it had been replaced by a non yoga class so, I headed to another studio. There was only Ashtanga available and even though I've never been into Ashtanga I took it. I am so glad I did! The teacher was Indian and had been practicing since he was boy. He was fantastic! The class only had two other students and me so, we each got one on one attention through all the poses. It was the hardest class of my life. Now I know why ashtanga yogis are ripped. Before the class, I had been feeling like uninspired in my practice. It was a struggle to get on my mat each day and I felt like I had hit a wall in terms of progress. Taking the Ashtanga class reinvigorated my practice and I left with a lot more knowledge about my body. The next day I took the same teachers class again, even though I was incredibly sore, and it was even better. I'm so thankful the original vinyasa class I had planned on was canceled.
We were lucky enough to experience the Holi festival in Arambol as well. I had been to a Holi festival in NYC years ago and had been wanting a real experience ever since. The Holi festival is a festival of color to celebrate good prevailing over evil. In celebration festival goers throw "colors" (packs of powdered color) in bright hues and water balloons. As people walk through the streets, people smear the color powder on the face, on their skin and dump it in their hair. It's a lot of fun! On Holi we met up with our friend Oliver and walked along the main street to be apart of the celebration. As soon as we started walking outside our hotel, we got happy Holi hugs and color thrown over us. We walked maybe 25 feet and were COVERED in color. By the time we talked to the beach, I was done with all the touching and selfies, and politely refused the festivities. Most were respectful except one man who chased me with color and grabbed my arm to stop me from getting away. I ripped my arm out of his grasp quickly and gave him a good lecture about why that was not okay and he left me alone. Not a great way to end the festival but, I didn't let the one apple ruin the whole thing. I was nervous that my skin would be stained orange because I was caked in the stuff but, one jump in the ocean cleaned it all off. The only thing that got stained was my scalp. It was hot pink for weeks!