Life’s a Beach

Bread roll vendor,  Colomb

Bread roll vendor, Colomb

Now that our days are not punctuated by visits to the dentist, we have fallen into a kind of routine. Up early, before 7:00am sometimes, throw on some clothes and a bit of sunscreen, and go for a walk. Although we were here 5 years ago there are still new things to see and hear, even along routes that we’ve followed before; prepations for a wedding (loud drums and singing, in a house festooned with hangings – not necessarily what you want next door at 07:30, but no doubt the neighbours had invites), the calls of unrecognised birds, dolphins surfacing in the bay, fishermen hauling in their catch, peeks into the insides of houses.

Fishermen, Palolem beach

Palolem beach

Our wanderings have taken us out onto both of the rocky spits that enclose Colomb bay, the small indentation that separates Patnem from Palolem. The reason that the coast here is so attractive (much prettier, I think, than the long straight beaches of Colva/Benaulim or Candolim etc) is that it’s punctuated by basalt dykes which run out to sea – the softer rock between has eroded to leave a series of sandy bays between rocky headlands. At Colomb, the southern headland hosts a cluster of village houses, beyond which are a few rooms and a couple of houses which can be rented by tourists. It’s a nice idea but they’re quite isolated, especially the house furthest along the headland. The village of Colomb would be unable to supply all but the most basic provisions – even fruit and veg would mean a walk to Palolem. But, if you have nothing else to do….

Southern end of Palolem

Neptune Point

The northern spit is host to Neptune Point, whose silent discos are advertised on posters all over Patnem. Stern notices warn against the bringing in of drugs or knives, or abusing staff – the fact that they are needed would be offputting, had we been considering a visit. Silent discos are now the only way for young travellers to get a taste of the once famous Goa party scene, since the Goan authorities have slapped a ban on the broadcasting of loud music after 10:00pm. It must be funny to watch – a crowd of people in headphones all dancing to their own beat, which I suppose could differ from that of their neighbours. Around the corner from Neptune Point, a small sandy cove backed by 2 or 3 restaurants and a clutch of beach huts. It was attractive and probably reasonably quiet, but getting there with heavy bags would be a chore.

Colomb bay

Colomb bay

This morning the tide was right to allow a walk south along the beach and round the rocks to the next bay, Rajbag – although I’d forgotten that it’s then necessary to paddle across a shallow stream that empties into the sea at this point. The beach af Rajbag is quite long, but is entirely taken up by the vast grounds of the Lalit hotel, which includes a golf course. It’s apparently not popular with the Rajbag villagers, who campaigned against its construction, as it virtually cuts off the village from the beach. It perhaps does provide some employment (a village girl was walking through the golf course gates as we passed) but I suspect that most of the staff who interface with guests come from elsewhere.

Talpona River from Rajbag

Talpona River from Rajbag

Three fishermen were unloading their catch at the southernmost point of the beach, where it is cut by the Talpona River (beyond that is another rocky headland – to proceed any further necessitates negotiation with a boatman). A quick chat with them (no, we were not Lalit guests, much too expensive for us), then back past the fishermen’s huts on the river side of the sandy spit that reaches across the mouth of the Talpona. Skirting the Lalit fence we cut through the huts to find a paved road running alongside the river – the views between the coconut trees were beautiful, and it was new territory for us. Rajbag village appeared to hold no special charms so we didn’t linger, but just followed our instincts to walk back to Patnem along the road.

Not sure whether this one was edible

Not sure whether this one was edible

After our walk, breakfast. I’ve tried to do the healthy fruit thing, but the sudden dose of sugar on an empty stomach just created an insulin peak that lasted long after the fruit had been dealt with, leaving me feeling low-blood-sugar ill by 12:00. So now it’s eggs, or an Indian breakfast (aloo paratha, or puris and bhaji – nothing like a bit of lime pickle to wake up the tastebuds!). By this time it’s 10:00 and beginning to get hot, so it’s back to the hotel to shower and do chores – laundry, mending, online stuff – and maybe read a bit or do some yoga before going for a swim at about 2:00pm. Lunch may or may not happen – today I had a strawberry lassi at 3:00pm, yesterday a choc ice. It’s too hot to be hungry.

Sunset at Patnem

Sunset at Patnem

At about 4:30 it’s time to head back for another shower and to mozzie-proof ourselves with chemicals and clothing, and to hunt down any that have got into the room. Dinner early if we’ve skipped lunch, and asleep by 10:00pm. I sleep quite well, which surprises me – it’s so quiet at home that I expected to find it difficult here, but I sleep through the noise of the ceiling fan, the chugging and hooting trains on the Konkan railway that passes just inland, barking dogs, fireworks and motorbikes, all without resorting to one of the many pairs of earplugs that we brought.

And so one day is merging into the next without anything much happening. It’ll get tired eventually, but for now it’s bliss.

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