Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Paradise (Lost) City

Goa is hot and deserted. For a famous party coast, there's not a whole lot going on down here, since high season (December-March) is over. But that's... lovely.

I met Jessica and her sister Jaime in Palolem, a supposedly ideallic beach town in the south. Palolem postcards show a wide, white beach, deserted apart from a thick crop of drooping coconut palms. Actually Palolem is as "unspoiled" as Negril, Jamaica. It looks a lot like it, too. The bamboo huts and straw-roofed bars jutting onto the sand would be sweet if they weren't jam packed into every square inch of beach.

Actually, the huts on stilts were pretty sweet, and at Rs. 150 (just over $3) a night, damn cheap. They're more than double during high season, triple over New Year's. We swam and sunned and sipped cold beers on the beach. There was some spicy malsala fried kingfish to be had, and some fresh pineapple juice to be sipped (at a whopping Rs. 40, I might add--nearly $1!). Some body surfing to be done, in the waning hours of the day.

After a few too many beach side beverages last night, we rallied and jeeped up to Anjuna Beach, a town in northern Goa famous for all night raves. But from the looks of it, the party's over. The shops are shut, mostly, and there are sad rows of unrented mopeds in parking lots at the main town crossing. The surf is rough, and since a girl nearly died the other day no one's swimming.

Maybe folks will come out of the woodwork for the famous Wednesday market tomorrow: the taut, tan-tummied kids who fly by on mopeds now and then, and the pot-bellied, wrinkly elders--those who started the party down here in the sixties--you see chain smoking hand rolled cigarettes at beachside bars.

Game on?


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