BootsnAll Travel Network

Napping to Zen in Arambol, Goa

Goa is India’s smallest but most economically favored state. The main draw to the little 100 squared km patch is the beaches which are not only known for their beauty, but also because of the following they draw.

Goa’s beaches are different in that they form almost perfect little stylized zones. Some of the variables used to separate the different communities are the type of lifestyle in which you want to spend your time there. For instance, there are beaches for the heavy party raving crowd with others geared toward the peace and solitude. There are beaches for the middle-upper class package tourist that wants a cookie cutter experience and minimal India versus some beaches where the only accommodations are a bamboo hut sitting on the beach and five dollars a day is easily achieveable. In some places you can dine on five star, and others you have to go to Mama’s hut for any food. Quality of beaches and the condition of the water is also a factor. Alternative lifestyle of the hippie days of old are also a possibility or places where hash is not the main breakfast accoutrement.

For my time, I picked one of the northernmost beaches of Arambol. It would probably be described as a heavy on the hippie, moderate to low on the partying, lower scale accommodations, moderate food options, and a fairly strong hash haven. It has a large gathering of alternative lifestyle people magnetized by the history of it being a hippie haven and one of the last places where you can visit the hippie communities in the jungle (I was told by one of the ancient timers that the Beatles had spent time at the same banyon tree where the main jungle meeting place is). Many have come here to re-enact the path that their parents took through the 60’s, or had watched it on tv and thought that was the place to find other like minded people.

To best describe Arambol, you could almost draw a line down the middle of it. To the left of the line is a mixture of village and budget accommodations for tourists. In town is the main single paved road where the shops and restaurants line the sides. On the beach are the large restaurant/club places lining the beach and the village. Some huts are intermingled along the noisy food places. Farther down the same side is endless beach that has little hut villages where those that want to escape the mob can go (this is also where you find the naked people). To the right of the line is a rocky outcropping that ends the beach and begins the path that follows the ocean. There are a few restaurants overlooking the sea as well as some nice huts running along the hill side. Following that path takes you to many small isolated coves which are spottily resided in. One of the more popular places for those in the know is the Sweet Water beach where there is a large formation of fresh water just on the other side of the beach. Here is also the entry point to the jungle where you can find a few pockets of hideaway hippie enclaves where those that want to become one with mother earth (and not have to pay rent) hide away. There is a fresh water spring which feeds a creek which feeds the fresh water lake. A popular day trip is to hike along the creek to the Banyan tree and hang out with the people smoking hash, singing, and praying. It also possible to keep heading farther into jungle for more nature if you wanted. After hiking over some more volvanic ridges you can come to another long lonely stretch of beach which has a couple of small restaurant/bar huts and very few people hanging about. Not much farther away is the state line and you are out of Goa. As you can see it seems like a very good balance and it really has turned out to be.

The hippie thing was actually a pretty big draw for me. No, I am not one, but it is kind of like going to Africa to see Lions and Elephants out in the wild. It is a dying community and so it is important to experience the lifestyle while it is possible. I guess one of the maing things that have alternated my perception is that it really isn’t a “hippie” thing. I guess a more fitting description would be those in search of a more spiritual and enlightened life style. Yoga, meditiation, serenity, peace, love, drugs… okay it is a hippie life style, but whatever, it really doesn’t matter. Sometimes you may wonder what happened to those kids in high school who were kind of in their own world. They dressed kind of funky (and didn’t care), they were into weird music, always stoned, and had little connection with straight line life. Well, I found them. Here, the hair is long and dreaded, clothes are loose and colorful, juggling stuff is a necessity, and being happy is a major part of the day. I guess it is just like hanging out in Manhatten, or Silicone Valley where money is god is the mentality. It is just a bunch of like minded people getting together and forming one big happy family.

One of the more spiritual issues that I have resolved is my attraction to the beach even though I don’t find the ocean and beach all that appealing (it smells, your always sweaty and covered with sand, fish pee in it…). Well, after finding a place that specializes in pondering, I think I have it worked out. Naps. Naps is the key. One of the life changing thing that not only occurred to me but seems to affect all the other travelers as well is the amount of naps that are taken. For me who is a nap specialist, something that was a bit bothersome in the beginning as I was starting to get harassed by some of my co-hippie hotel mates about my seemingly never ending napping and lack of doing anything (it is kind of bad when hippies start calling you lazy and unmotivated.) Well, anyways, I started thinking about it, and one factor about napping seemed to pop out. Napping at the beach is almost a part of life, one of the things that you are almost expected to do. Find a hammock or a tree/umbrella, and take a snooze. What else is there to do when you are hanging out at the beach? Now, when you are in the city, too much time spent in bed napping can seem to others that you are depressed or possibly suicidal. “That was Steve’s fourth nap today, I think he might be sick or depressed, maybe we should take him to the hospital.” At the beach, nobody would crack an eye. Even when I was in Syria doing my tv thing, Mohammed would ask me every day if I was going to go see the castle, and every day he would kind of just shake his head and laugh somewhat out of disappointment in me. You just don’t get that at the beach.

One other possibility is the negative connotations my lifestyle brings. At the beach, I am just a beach bum. Sounds kind of refreshing and enjoyable doesn’t it. Kind of makes you want to pick up the life style as well. Now what if you are in the city. Now it is unemployed, incorrigable, burden on society, lazy, homeless, carless, jobless, poor, destitute, and loser. Kind of not so romantic huh. So, maybe it is peer pressure that makes beach life so attractive. A pretty good synopsis huh. Well, I thought so, and if I might add, it was all without the use of any psychodelic drugs. I am just naturally enlighteningly gifted.

Ah yea, speaking of Beach bums, the cast of characters that I am hanging with are as follows.

Uri and Reiki an Israeli couple that I met at the train station. My perfect travel kept on going when they asked if I wanted to share a cab to Arambol, and then we ended up sharing a room. Uri is a passionate hiker and bird guy (carries a big pair of binoculars) and can seriously sleep. It would be a close call if we competed against each other. Reiki is more of a quiet powerhouse. She controls the relationship, but comes across as very demure. We spend the day hanging out a lot as Uri is up at sunrise and is out birdwatching before we even get out of REM sleep. They just left and set-off walking down the beach south. I opted out on the random hiking thing.

Myra is also an Israeli runaway who is the dreamy whispy one. She is the one that puts out a really soothing vibe and talks with a whisper. She wakes me in the morning with her smokey/birdlike Indian vocals.

Juliet is the German island hopper like me. She has spent the last ten years hopping islands in the Mediteranean. Right now she lives in Malta. She scares me. Really nice though. Likes the drugs.

Johan is the Austrian spiritual seeker. He has a great balance of seeking all these alternative lifestyles as well as being very artistic. If there is some culture that has used a form of drug to raise its consciousness, he has been there and done that. He is the one tutoring me on the drug scene in Goa as well as comprehending spiritualness.

Amanda a fellow American. She would probably be best described as a spiritual cheerleader. Always bubbly and into all the positive stuff. No drugs just yoga and spiritualness. From Alabama though, I thought that was weird until she said that her parents were kind of hippies.

Raj from Rajastan (north India). He is a professional musician/singer who is in Arambol for two months making money teaching classes. He also likes to sing and play his instruments in the morning which gets me up and ready for my preparation for taking a nap. Right now he is using a harmonium, a kind of piano/accordian.

We have just recently added Phil, a Brit, who is somewhat like me in that he has a few dollars but likes the lifestyle. He is a good balance for me because he can totter between reality and the spirit world.

They make up the cast of characters in my little slice of Arambol.

Oh yea, the food is divine, although I am working off my Syria gut. That was until phil took me to Double Dutch which is a western food place that specializes in steak. Ohhh, so good. Beef does a body good even though you are eating a god.

Fisherman unloading the catch Sweet Water Lake Beach Uri and Reiki Instead of camels at the beach, now its cows My lunch usual, Vegetable Thali In the mornings we have a community fruit breakfast Raj from Rajastan (north India) with his Harmonium

One of the popular things to do in India is to buy a motorcycle and cruise all around with your own transportation. The coolest mode is the old Royal Enfield Motorcycles. They are like India’s version of the Harley Davidson. They are very basic and break down a lot, but they are built like tanks so they can be repaired easily and cheaply.

Royal Enfield 1 Royal Enfield 2 Royal Enfield 3

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5 responses to “Napping to Zen in Arambol, Goa”

  1. Judy says:

    Hi Steve!

    As I was rereading your Fridays blog this morning, this new one showed up! Was pretty neat–made me feel like you’re just a click away!

    Again, thanks for the entertainment. Currently, you are my favorite writer!! You seem to improve with age!!!!

    I know you know how to take care of yourself but let me tell you what happened to a friend of mine that visited India about a year ago. She lost a lot of her stuff (camera, cash, CC’s, clothing,etc.) in a flash. And she had done the chicken wire, padlock thing and everything she thought to do and it still happened.

    Did you get my email of a week ago?

    May the Gods keep smiling on you! judy

  2. Marisa says:

    Ah napping, you struck a nerve there…I’m a master sleeper myself. I love the 12-14 hours of sleep one can justify when travelling alone. And what’s better to do after wandering around for a while than sit somewhere and take a nap.
    Today, I’m off to a retreat for a week that has absolutely nothing to do but sleep. Its a real vacation.

  3. Math Mc says:

    Hi Steve,

    Just been reading your Syria blogs – I’ll be heading there from Turkey next week. The Turkish med is still nşce this time of year by the way 😉 but yeah its cold in the evenings.

    Just wondered: how are you funding yourself? Email me the response if you would be so kind :). And sorry if the answer is somewhere else in the blog and I’ve been too lazy to look for it!

  4. Debbie says:

    Hi Steve

    i am scouring the net for references to those recently or currently in Arambol.
    I am desperately trying to trace AMANDA (Mandy) Reid, a 35yr old Scottish woman with balck curly hair and blue eyes. She is staying in the northern area where you were and has been there since December 08 – massage and yoga training.
    Amanda needs to phone home URGENTLY and I’d be grateful if you or any of your contacts know her or her whereabouts could you please ask her to contact her brother Mike. Thank you, Debbie Coulter, UK

  5. I like your website, I was emailed the link, will bookmark you and visit again

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