After driving through Konya Wildlife Reserve we left bright and early for Goa. Tristan bet the team a round of beers that we wouldn’t be on the road by 6am and he lost! Watching the sunrise over the farmland was the perfect start to the day, until Afternoon Delight had its first breakdown at least.
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Thankfully it was just a flat tire and an easy fix. We only stopped for about 30 minutes to change it but that in of itself was still an adventure. To change a tire on the rickshaw you have to lean it on its side and naturally you don’t carry a jack with you. We have a large group of 6 so were able to handle this pretty easily but if you’re a small team and need to change the tire you should either enlist some local help or find a rock to prop the rickshaw up on.
Back on the road again we played Eye Spy and other road trip games like Contact before our hunger set in. We had less than 200 km to go before reaching Goa and wanted to arrive before lunch but the early start meant plenty of time to enjoy some authentic Indian breakfast.
Dosa is famous throughout Southern India and a surprisingly filling breakfast. They put a spoon of thick potato masala curry inside a hard, thin crepe-like pancake and roll it into a big burrito. Locals will dig a hole into the center and tear off the outer edges to dip inside the masala mix.
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The drive to Goa took us through another wildlife reserve but this time we stayed on the main roads. The mountain views were just as epic as those near Mahabaleshwar with green forested hills as far as the eyes can see. Chris was driving down the mountains along dozens of blind corners and joked about how her “only games on Playstation were the racing ones.” We were coasting along as I snapped a few photos when suddenly it felt like we were flying! Turning the next corner we’re pretty sure one of our 3 wheels came off the ground so Ben and I began leaning with each bend to make sure we stayed attached to the roads. Oh and Chris slowed down a bit realizing it wasn’t the same as her childhood video games.
We safely reached the base of the mountains and were instantly hit by a wave of hot, humid air. Goa and the beach were getting closer but first we had to drive through a few small villages. Most of them passed without incident but as we neared the state border schools began to let out.
Driving along a tiny road we were suddenly surrounded by thousands of people. Traffic stopped dead while kids in school uniforms walked along with the usual crowds. It took close to 30 minutes to drive just a few hundred meters but the curious stares from every local made it well worth the delay.
Across the border to Goa we were all getting antsy to dip our feet in the water and crack open a cold beer when our rickshaw lost sight of Afternoon Delight behind us. We pulled off to the side and quickly got a message saying Tristan had just been stopped by the police! Everything turned out fine but we had all the documents for the Rickshaw on us. We’d heard other stories of teams being asked for bribes to move on but when we showed proper license and registration he let us on our way and we arrived in Vagator, Goa shortly after.
Exploring Vagator beach it was amazing to see cows roaming freely. We played in the waves and enjoyed a few cold drinks as the bovines walked among our lounge chairs. When a curious looking cow came next to me I decided to try petting it and found the creature to be incredibly friendly. I scratched its back and ears like I would have a dog or other pet and it lay in the sand enjoying the attention.
That night an unofficial Rickshaw Run midway party ensued. Rumor has it there were almost 40 teams dancing away with the sound of ocean waves mingling with a DJ. Stars twinkled above but sadly I missed most of the excitement that night. I was too exhausted from our 6am start, that combined with a few beers meant I was ready for bed by 9pm! On the bright side, the next morning I was the only one well rested and took the helm of Morning Glory.
We all agreed to spend another night in Goa but were heading to the southern edge and Palolem Beach. The road wound along the coast, back inland to forests and eventually up a massive hill. We were greeted by a desert plateau at the top and I asked Joe to look for a viewpoint. Sure enough he found a little trail on the map and we all agreed to check it out.
We were only a dozen kilometers from Palolem and the sun was getting low so when the viewpoint turned out to be a private beach we were easily convinced to book bungalows for 400 INR ($8) per person! That evening we enjoyed Kakolem Beach all to our selves. We splashed through the waves, played catch with a mystery fruit and built a bond fire.
The pristine beach was one of the nicest I’ve ever seen and by far the most private beach I’ve ever stayed on. Other than the 2 Indian guys working the kitchen and cleaning the bungalows there was not a single person in sight! This is the Goa I was hoping for and it turned out to be my favorite beach in all of India!
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