After a little over a week in Hyderabad, I had a decision to make. I could either take a train to Delhi and head on a northern route that would take me on a long loop up to Nepal and then back down south towards Mumbai. That would involve at least 4 weeks, and maybe as much as 10 weeks, of traveling around living out of my suitcase before getting a chance to catch my breath in Mumbai.
The other option was to head east, to Goa, before heading north to Mumbai. Those familiar with Goa know it has the sunny, relatively-prosperous beach area where tourists descend upon for the peaceful beaches in the south or the party and late-night scene in the northern beaches. Goa is a destination for both local and foreign tourists, and has a reputation for having some of the most kind and welcoming local residents in India. It has the visible remnants of the Portuguese, who conquered and rule from Goa for a time in the 16th century.
Goa had occupied a place in my imagination long before coming to India, and after several weeks of traveling in more-hectic places I decided to opt for Goa; the northern spots could wait for later. There was the small matter of “monsoon season”, but no big deal if it rains a few hours every day.
The fifteen hour busride from Hyderabad could have been worse, but as soon as I hopped off the bus I immediately began to question my casual disregard for the fact that there it was monsoon season. The sky was dark and the rain heavy, and the 25km ride to the guest house I was staying at promised nothing but more rain.
And so it was, for the next five days it literally rained 22 hours per day. Every day. Not only did the rain make it difficult to get around, especially on a rented motorcycle, but it also meant that at least 75% of establishments were closed for business. Those that were open were perhaps at 10% capacity, and as a result Goa felt more like a ghost town than the popular beach town I had expected.
Due to the rain, my activities were pretty limited while in Goa. The two main things I did were 1) work from either the guesthouse (which had Wifi) or a TexMex restaurant I found that also had wifi, 2) Take advantage of the brief periods without rain and take the rented motorcycle out for a spin. However, these “spins” were inevitably interrupted by an ambush from the clouds, leaving me driving back to the guesthouse with my head at odd angles and getting pelted on the face with stinging gusts of rain.
If anything, the rain was good for keeping me in my room working, which is my main focus anyways. The guesthouse I was at, because it had such good reviews online, was one of the few that had any other guests. Over five days I met maybe a dozen or so other travelers, and in the late evenings we’d sometimes sit and play cards. However, their traveler priorities were quite different than mine and so I was often shut up in my room while they sat around outside, but all the same it was nice to meet and swap stories with some fellow travelers.
After three days, the rain was taking its toll on morale. I really liked Goa and could see its charm, but the rain had made it but a shadow of what it is the other 9 months of the year. As it happened, myself and three others all had the idea to go to Hampi, another Southeast India destination, and so we collectively booked train tickets. At 6am on a Thursday, we caught the 1.5 hour cab ride to the train station for the 7-hour ride that would get us to the place where we could take another 1.5 hour ride to Hampi.
I will have to go back through Goa on my way to Mumbai, so I wouldn’t be gone for long. Anyways, Goa and I weren’t finished: I knew that I’d have to return in several months so as to give Goa a chance to redeem herself and remind me why I had wanted to come in the first place.