I’ve had the time of my life and I’m filled with both the desperate longing for it to continue and the bittersweet reality that it’s almost over. Goa has been wonderful to me. It took me a few days to adjust to the humidity and for the guilt over doing nothing all day to abate, but after one week here I feel at home.
Jungle hostel in Vagator is heaven on earth. It’s a venus fly trap; it lures you in and you never leave. Everybody checks in here for one or two nights, and a week later they’re still here, tanned and hungover and wondering what the hell happened to the past seven days.
Over a week of parties, beaches, sunsets, and long lazy chats on the patio, I’ve met a golden set of friends. I’ve found my haven and I know I should continue on with my trip but it’s so hard to tear myself away. This place is steeped in that glory days nostalgia-in-the-making that you could almost taste in the air on school trips when you were young. You know what I mean? It’s that feeling you got when you were a kid camping out with friends on a summer weekend, and you’re setting up the tents and you look up and the sky is so clear. Life is so simple and fresh, and if you listen close you can almost hear the fizzing of memories being forged out of the raw halcyon that pours from your smile.
It’s coming to an end now, my stint at this glorious little hostel in the jungle, because all of my generation of backpackers, the ones that arrived a week ago, are finally moving on. I know I’ll feel sad if I’m the last one left here among a sea of new faces, so I’ll beat the melancholia and hit the road tomorrow or the day after.
Simply because I want to remember them all, here are the names and details of the wonderful absconded:
The tireless volunteer, the party starter, my lovely mate: Krish
The propa-mental English trio: Jack, Ellie and Sarah
The hard drinking, drug smashing, hilarious Canadians: Kyle and PJ
The Croatian burger fiend: Josef
The sassy deaf girl: Prima
The everkeen booze queen: Phoebe
The boundlessly energetic Canadian: Erinn
The beautiful jolly dream couple: Ryan and Judith
The posh Englishman: David
The shoeless, phoneless Aussie: Georgia
The naked, rowdy Aussie: Tim
The birthday boy: Zack
The winking Argentinian stoner: Max
The other Argentinian whose ballsack I saw upon walking in on him with a girl: Seb
The Swedish girl who was entwined with the aforementioned ballsack-flaunter: Ada
The cheery big guy: Avi Sheikh
The Scottish novelist: Daniel
The cool dude from Chennai: Surya
The possibly-a-little-bit-genuinely-insane Kiwi: Richard
The bold Dutch explorer: Suzie
And there were so many more besides, but I forget all their names. The day order here is always the same – wake up for breakfast, go back to bed, ask around for inspiration for day plans, head out with a group to the beach/cafe/hills/jungle/water park/bar, then return sleepy and red-skinned in the late afternoon. Nap and eat, shower, then meet everyone out on the patio. Drink, play, laugh, then get buses or mopeds to any of the little towns along the endless beach. Find a bar and dance all night. Swim in the dark. Hitch hike a moped home in the early hours. Sit on the patio with takeaway food, chatting and smoking and playing cards. And so the days have passed.
Now, I haven’t written about this, but I’ve been having such a hard time with my emotions recently. Travelling costs you a lot. I’ve lost many people I care for deeply, I’ve lost lifelong best friends, and it hurts. So much. And though I don’t talk about it – to anyone, ever – the ache is a black cloud that hangs over me always; across the desert, down unspooling highways, through every bustling city. Pangs of anguish strike without warning and cripple me. A glittering temple, an endless beach; I stare out and smile, then I remember all the bad things and with a sigh I dissolve. But here, out in the jungle, for one beautiful rare moment, nothing hurts. I’ve reached my sleepy oasis and, if only for a little while, my soul is at peace.