Monday, March 21, 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing

(Written in Mandrem, March 18th)

Wow, this place is really quiet.  It’s been nice, being able to just chill out and laze on the beach and stare at the waves.  But it’s a little unsettling, though, to actually spend some time alone after spending the past couple of months surrounded by hordes of people everywhere I go.  I thought Anjuna was pretty quiet, this late in the season, but there was at least one place (Curlie’s) where I could reliably find people pretty much any hour of the day or night.
My little home in Mandrem (right)

Now, you know I like my space.  I’m never going to be someone who chooses to spend 24 hours a day in the company of other people; to stay sane, I need to carve out time for myself every day, where I can think and write and read and just daydream in the solitude of my own company.  I go squirrelly after a while if I am constantly surrounded by other people.  But, it seems, even I can have too much time alone.

I had a long wander up and down the beach yesterday, and Mandrem really is just a few huts and cafes strung out along the sand.  There’s a village, up over the hill, but it’s far enough away that it’s really a separate place.  I was confused yesterday as I walked up and down the beach, trying to figure out where Mandrem actually was; I walked north and found myself in Arambol (second only to Anjuna as the traveller haunt of choice in north Goa), and walked south and found myself in Asvem Beach (a little scruffy, and for some inscrutable reason, mainly frequented by Russian travellers).  Then I realized that Mandrem Beach really is just this, this long and mostly empty stretch of sand. 

It probably isn’t always quite this quiet, but it’s the tail-end of the season now and there aren’t so many travellers around.  Everywhere I enquired when I was looking for a place to stay had rooms available, and I think I’m the only one staying in the little hut complex where I landed.  The only people here, after the sunbathers go back to wherever they’re staying, are the Indian guys who work in the little cafe. 

It’s nice, but I think more than a night or two might be too much of a good thing.  Both Arambol and Asvem are under half an hour’s walk away, and both have lots of options for things to do during the day and lots of nightlife (well, Arambol does, at least); problem is, there`s no way really to get there except to walk.  If I went out at night, and took a taxi back, I`d still have to walk down to the beach from the road through the deserted woods and empty sands.

As for walking along the beach, well, there are no lights or buildings most of the way, and it isn’t really safe to walk it by myself late at night; women travellers in Goa have been attacked at night doing that very thing.  So even though there are lights, and people, and action, at Arambol and Asvem just a short way away, I’m not really comfortable seeking out any night life there when I have no good way to get home afterward. If I was with someone, I’d feel okay going out late and walking back down the deserted beach; as it is, I feel a bit trapped after dark (as it is now).

So I think tonight will be my last night here.  I had almost decided, my first night here, to go look for somewhere closer to the “civilization” of Arambol to the north; the lack of options at night, other than hanging out by my hut, made solitude feel less of a choice and more as if it had been foisted upon me.  I like spending time alone, sometimes, but it feels better when I am alone because I’ve chosen to be, not because I have to be.

But I decided in the hot light of day that I’d embrace the solitude.  Do a lot of reading, a lot of writing at night, and seek out other activities during the day if I really wanted to.  It’s done my writing productivity a world of good, as I sit with my little netbook and pound away at the keyboard, listening to the waves crash and watching the moonlight play across the sea.  And I like my little hut, basic as it is; the mosquitoes aren’t bad, there are no geckos to chirp me awake (unlike Varkala) and no cockroaches (unlike Anjuna).  It’s been a good little home for a couple of days, and I’ve loved being able to walk straight out my front door and across the sand into the sea.

But I think I’ve had my fill.  Tomorrow, then, I’m going to head up to Arambol.  Who knows, I might even stay somewhere where other people are also staying, and go out tomorrow night; now there’s a thought.

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