Traveler’s Bad Luck in 5 Easy Steps

#1 Sickness

The tally: two bouts of traveler’s diarrhea, one crater on my arm, pestilent boils on the back of my neck and face. When you own a travel website the worst thing you could do is rant about it zoned out on antibiotics. Oh wait, it’s me and that’s what I do.

#2 Theft

Do you ever feel trapped in a David Lynch film? One day I woke to discover a dwarf dancing in the kitchen. Replace dwarf with a toothless Indian man clutching a cloth saying “I here to clean”. He sashayed into my room, I shooed him out. He glided into the spare room thinking we were going to play Catch the Intruder. Instead of Special Agent Dale Cooper, Christine burst in with a baby on her hip, and began pointing at him in staccato. “What are you doing in here? You’re not supposed to be here. You can’t just come in here. Go!!” It took her two times to make him understand ‘out’. I channeled Laura Palmer’s homecoming photo, watching this scene with benign detachment. It wasn’t until the aftermath that I noticed my iPhone had vanished from the kitchen table. Since then, I eye any toothless, Indian man with suspicion, wondering if he’ll pull out a neon pink iPhone.

#3 Accidents

Back to drugs, really refrain from operating any type of vehicle. It may seem effortless, even cool to zip around on a scooter with glee because you paid 150 rupees instead of the normal 250. As you smugly enjoy that feeling of fleecing someone, coupled with drugs, bad shit can happen. In my case, it was a loaned scooter. I tried to speed through a gate where I’m staying and smashed the housing device for those itty-bitty important things called lights. You, too, can waste your travel budget by paying 1,600 rupees, plus labor to cover your mistakes. I now take that whole PSA with the sizzling egg in a pan thing seriously.

#4 Injury

Spontaneous splits happen when you mop in flip-flops, then step on a polished tile floor and realize that your legs are sliding far, far apart. Not the fun kind of ‘apart’ that involves a naked man and a condom. The wincing kind. The inevitable arrives when you yelp in pain the second your big toe crushes against a ridiculously high ledge of a doorway. Blood spurts, cursing, then assessment that the injury is on the side of your toe, leaving you wondering how the hell walking will ever be stable again. And what is it with those Mount Everest sized curbs between bedrooms and bathrooms in India?

#5 Lost, Not Found

Let’s blame all of this on meds. Really. My generous hosts lent me mobile broadband Internet free. Just look after the broadband stick, no problem!  The day I went to Calungate to purchase my own, somehow, my friend’s stick leaped out of my laptop bag and hurled itself into the black hole of Goa. Price tag for this? A mere 2,500 rupees later. Shhh. I heard something. Yup, that was the sound of Indian rupees leaving my pocket.

You would think these incidents come in three’s. My mojo conjures quantum bad luck. It just grows exponentially. Go ahead, laugh. It’s tragic, comedic, and bound to happen to all of us.

What shades of bad luck did you encounter on your travels?

Photo: nyoin

By |March 14th, 2011 |Categories: Goa, Life |37 Comments
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Looking for Faith on Shiva Day

Sometimes I curse my curiosity. It’s too easy to lounge alongside Russians clothed in ugly harem pants and embrace blissful ignorance. Western food and alcohol goodness are within reach. Whittling away time on  Baga Beach as touts hawk bracelets, manicures or ice cream is like sinking into quicksand. Slow and surprising.

I had other things in mind on March 2. It was Mahashivratri, and I was going to temple.

Temple at night

Practiced in Goa for centuries, Mahashivratri signifies a day of rituals and fasting in worship of the Lord Shiva. On this momentous day, Shiva plunges his lightening bolt of a blue arm to grant moksha, the release from samsara and perpetual reincarnation to get your karma on track.

I could use some release. As much as I’ve grown on this journey there are sober moments of envy or anger that surprise me. Buddhists call this a ‘restless mind’.

Buying enlightenment

Maybe this is my pale version of Eating, Praying, Loving Thyself, but onwards towards enlightenment, right?

I purchased my offering of coconut, bananas, flower garland and incense guessing that Shiva is one hungry deity. That set me back 40 rupees.

My offerings

The tourist bubble bursted as I stepped away from the hedonistic pleasures of Baga towards the temple a few feet away. The buttery yellow of the temple beckoned me, intensified by the cache of Christmass lights decorating it’s exterior. Worship just turned Vegas.

Each worshipper sounded the bell. Shoeless and reverent, I did the same following my friends lead. I definitely didn’t understand everything, but what I could conclude was a Hindu priest acted as the conduit between you and Shiva.

Gonging our arrival

He grabbed my offerings, emptying the contents to place them in front of a Shiva statue. His only piece of clothing was an orange sarong. His skinny frame and sunken chest made me think of starving holy men meditating on misty mountaintops waiting for god to fill them.

Priest paving the spiritual beeline

He came back, handing me one banana to place at the altar situated outside. An attendant poured milk in my hand meant for me to drink and douse my head with. I wondered if I had been christened somehow.

The next step was taking several sticks of incense, lighting them, and skewering a banana with them. A sickly sweet odor engulfed my nostrils. I tried to breathe in connection.

Shiva personified

This was our cue to go outside and kneel before a gated altar of garlands and smoking bananas.

“What do I do?” I asked my friend.

“Whatever you feel. Usually you kneel, ask for blessings.”

So, I did. My knees grated against the dusty concrete, where I also placed my forehead. I shut my eyes.

Tell me what to do

I felt nothing. Nada. The concept of dessert at Brittos popped in my head.

It was then I knew faith left me long ago. And that really bothers me. Maybe I’ve seen too much, too early in my life. Could be I have the attention span of a gnat. One thing that is clear is how to gain it back?

We left the temple and crossed the doorway into karaoke and mocktails.

My Spiritual Mission

India is the perfect place to flex my religious muscles. My mission is to head to Rishikesh and meditate to death or sip from natural springs. I’m reticent on what I will find. Could be lightness and purity. Or strong hash towards The Path. Peace out.

Know any decent gurus for me to check out? Any hint towards faith is welcome. Whatever happens, I’ll be sure to report my findings.

By |March 4th, 2011 |Categories: Goa, Life |12 Comments

When Sickness Makes You Weak Minded

I’ve been offline pretty much all week not because of good times and tequila shots. That should be the case. I’m in Baga Beach staying in a 3-bedroom villa and was psyched about hanging with Christine Gilbert. Instead of playing with her son Cole, I’m battling my second bout of traveler’s diarrhea after narrowly recovering from a staph infection (Staphylococcus aureus).

I posted this nasty picture of my arm on Facebook:

The arm was steadily healing, but today it’s stinging again and looks like a tiny fissure is forming.

The mind whirs while in this precarious state. I feel worn out, spent, and am probably riddling this post with typos and grammatical errors because antibiotics leave me dizzy.

  • I want to throw in the towel. Go home. Then I want to kick myself because I worked hard to be here and returning home means failure.
  • I want to curl up in a ball and cry.
  • I feel guilty for not enjoying Goa. I should be out exploring the coastline on a scooter or snorkeling. All I really want to do is lie down all the time.
  • I’m beginning to determine that the SteriPEN might not work, or I used it incorrectly. I’ve experienced the same symptoms twice in the past two months.

Help me out people, I need some intense words of encouragement right now.

Am I overreacting or simply experiencing the banality of sickness in long-term travel?

By |February 25th, 2011 |Categories: Goa |32 Comments