The idea of leaving Benaulim seemed so far away just a few months ago. But these past three months have gone by in a blur. When Noah and I were first trying to figure out where we wanted to stay in Goa for three months, we initially were looking at the bigger tourist towns such as Anjuna and Palolem. Never would I have thought that we would end up in the small village of Benaulim, but I am sure glad we did. The last three months have been filled with relaxation, partying, good food, rum, angry lesbians (although one was very satisfied at times, self high-five) and countless Russians. There has been both good and bad, but I would not change any of it.
The sand, beach, palm trees and rum have always had a special place in my heart. I have always felt that the tropics were where I belonged. So when I first stepped off the plane in Mumbai, I knew that our first five days were just a waiting period till I could get to Goa. On our long train ride down I could not wait to spend the next three months in a tropical paradise with nothing to do but relax. As the hours passed, the amount of palm trees grew more and more. I felt as if I was coming home, as if I belonged here. I mean come on, a tropical paradise that only costs me $10 per day! If you know me at all then this is right up my alley. My excitement grew as the train finally pulled into the station after about 13 hours. We grabbed a taxi from the pre-paid booth and made the 20 minute ride into town and our guest house. Our guidebook had told us that Benaulim was without a party scene and most tourists were of the domestic or ageing European varieties. While this is pretty much true, what got me was that the guidebook also said that Benaulim had only a small strip of shops and had a village vibe. I knew the village would be quiet most of our stay, that was until December came along.
When we first arrived in Benaulim it was still a quiet beach side village. The tourist season did not really kick off until December. So Noah and I knew that we had several weeks to get to truly know the town and its inhabitants. We quickly became known throughout the town as we were one of the few tourists at the time. This would help once December arrived since we had made good connections and werent treated as new arrivals. There were no beach shacks and the only places to eat were the permanent restaurants that stayed open year around. On many occasions Noah and I would be the only customers at lunch or dinner time. This gave us time to get to know the staff and get a true feeling for what life was like here in Benaulim, both for its residents and the many workers who flocked from Nepal and greater India for the season. In my earlier post “A Day In The Life Of The Bromads: Goan Edition,” this was our typical day. There was not much to do, especially once the sun went down. We would every so often meet other tourists such as Scott, Morris, Chris and the group of Russian girls as Noah wrote about in a previous post. Though the nightlife was still quiet, on many nights we would be able to make our own party with the group we had at the time. Looking back, these were probably the best nights that I had in Benaulim.
On one of our many nights out we met a native Goan who was now working in Kuwait. Chris was on his first vacation back home in several years. We had noticed him at Domnicks beach shack while we were singing karaoke. After Karaoke we decided to head to Malibu beach shack where there was always loud music later on in the evening. We sat down and realized Chris was already there so we invited him over to join us, always looking for new people to talk to. This turned out to be the first of many crazy nights out with Chris as more and more people we knew stumbled into Malibu. Over the next couple weeks Chris and I became pretty good friends. He would introduce me to new people as well as local cheap restaurants. The best thing though was when he decided to show me a small spring and waterfall in the small jungle village of Verna, pictures are posted online. Every couple of days we would hop on his scooter and make the 10 kilometer ride to the spring and relax with a bottle of Old Monk rum and a bag of samosas. You never truly get to see a city/town until you have a local to show you around. This has been true for me in several cities such as Negril, Jamaica and Mumbai, India. The days at the spring were probably my favorite while in Benaulim.
And then there was December…..
If I could sum up my December in Benaulim, Goa, India in one word it would be ‘Legen-wait for it-dary, legendary!’
December was really the start of the big tourist season in Benaulim. Traditionally it has been November but this year was especially slow due to bad economies throughout Russia and Europe. Side note: America, Fuck Yeah! Anyways, before Noahs deaprture on the 8th we were able to have a few big parties with our most recent Russian group at the Hungry Duck beach shack. The owner of the shack, Sunny, has been awesome and Noah and I quickly became friends with him. He would go out of his way to help us out as well as keeping the rum flowing. All we had to do was pay for our Pepsi, I instantly liked this man, no homo! Noah in his Benaulim post goes over who was in this group, all awesome people who we had a lot of fun with. That was until Noah left and the Russian lesbian incident occured. I have received many questions and messages about this incident. But to make a long story short and to break it down easy it went like this: 2 Russian lesbians, 1 awesome me, 2 weeks of flirting, 1 break-up, 3 nights of awesomeness, 1 reconciliation, 1 awesome but loud mouthed me, 2 angry Russian lesbians, 1 even more awesome me. The end. To say the least, the group wasn’t quite the same after this and within a week four of them had decided to go back to Russia early. Zach Julian, creating relationship issues one couple at a time!
With Christmas approaching I wasnt’t quite sure how to feel. I had never been in a warm let alone tropical climate nor been away from my family before. While the majority of India consists of Hindus, Goa is a rare exception with a large population of Christians/Catholics. The Christmas lights, trees, nativity scenes and decorations were all a welcomed sight. I was looking forward to Christmas Eve night, which was when the big celebration on the beach was. Especially come midnight when it officially became Christmas. After the fireworks at midnight and several hours of drinking I find myself sitting in Domnicks beach shack at four in the morning. I am at table with a local, 2 Russians and 2 Canadians. Including myself, there were 5 total white people in the shack. And of the 5 women in the shack, 3 of them were sitting at my table. So this leaves about 50 men and 2 women, all Indian, sitting around us or dancing. You may be asking yourself, ‘Zach, how is this at all legendary?’ Well children, let me explain. Look at it like this, I am sitting on a beach in India at 4am on Christmas morning. I can barely see straight due to all the rum. There are numerous grown Indian men dancing like they are actively having a seisure, and between dancing they are literally fighting each other because someone insulted another. But once another song came on it was like nothing had happened and they all went back to dancing like it was a Bollywood movie. This was legendary because I would of never imagined this is where I would be and this is what I would be witnessing on Christmas morning. Where did my life go so right?
As I write this, it is two days until New Years, the biggest party night in Goa. I have no idea what this night will bring but I do know that it will be a good way to end my time here in Benaulim. This small beach side village has served me well over the last three months. I have met many amazing people and gained countless new friends, and maybe a couple enemies. I will forever remember this place and the stories that I have gained. From Scott, Morris, Chris, Vitaly, Cool, Vickie, Vladimir, Lena, the Katarinas, Sunny, Navine, Samantha and the many more people who have been a part of this adventure, I want to thank you for an awesome and very interesting time. But most off all I want to thank Benaulim and its people. I hope to one day come back to this amazing place, you will always have a special place in my heart!