This is Part 2, my final post about time spent in Goa, India before moving on.
While this post mentions several things which are aggravations, February was positive overall and worked out well in the end. An adjustment period was needed and many magical moments were mixed in.
Friend or Foe?
During high season in Goa, you get approached a lot on the beach and the markets, especially if your ‘vibe’ hasn’t quite acclimated to this place yet. Some approaches deliver good fortune, others ill will. Discerning between the two can be difficult.
One Indian guy (I’ll call R1) approached, asking if I was from Germany (as there aren’t many Americans here, mostly Russian and German), this started our conversation. We got along well and decided to get Chai together on the beach. Soon after, R2 (another Indian guy) I got along with really well arrived. Another traveler joined later. After some time, we made plans to meet the next day. R1 was going to give me a ride to the Ayurvedic doctor and then we would make some home cooked food together at their house.
A view from the back of the scooter ride into town the next day to the Doctor.
The Ayurvedic Doctor
As mentioned in part 1 of Goa, India the Initiation, I had several health challenges upon arrival. As I type this post 1 month in I feel way better, but a small stomach pain issue persists now and then. After pulling up to an open storefront/office of sorts I saw the Doctor. No paperwork, no insurance asked. He asked my symptoms and based on my body type diagnosed my dosha as Pitta (fiery), according to Ayurvedic medicine. Meaning I run hot, which I can agree with as I never do well in heat, even living in Florida for most of my life. When you mix fire (my body constitution) with fire (a hot, harsh environment), overheating happens.
The Doctor gave me several herbal remedies, including:
For respiratory issues
- LSM powder (a spicy tasting power I had to mix with honey and water).
- Two other herbal syrups I had to mix together and drink with each meal.
To cool my body down and stop my face from breaking out
- Sarsaparilla juice, I had to mix 1 part to 3 parts water and drink often.
For overall health
- Immunity pills to take with meals.
Foods to avoid (so my body doesn’t have to heat up to process them)
- Cold drinks, bananas, yogurt, wheat, eggs, coconut, ice cream, grapes, and bread.
As suggested, in a couple of days my Asthma, face breakouts and low energy started to improve. (A couple weeks later I had coffee, and my stomach has been hurting for well over a week, however it’s much improved due to a self-healing as I’ll elaborate on below).
How much did I pay on the spot for the consultation and all herbal remedies?
Later that day, we made a home cooked meal together, and I procured with their help some hashish from the mountains (which was garbage by most standards). We threw the raw chicken bones to the cats that promptly devoured them.
We discussed many things including lifestyle in which R2 mentioned he’s never (at 30) had a regular job, as he’s in the family business of doing gem shows around the world.
They also helped me deal with Vodafone support to correct the APN settings for the new SIM card in my unlocked iPhone 4.
The next day we did something together and at some point went to their family’s house. I was having a very bad asthma day (which never happens in the U.S.), as there is much dust in the air, random trash fire smoke, losing breath while walking over sand, etc. I got introduced to the infamous cousin who helped R2 into the gem business. Long story short, the cousin wanted me to help them avoid paying taxes on gems they import into the U.S. and then resell at a high profit. I would need to sign some documents in which I’d virtually buy goods from them (but no money was exchanged). I needed to then mail a small package of jewelry from India to myself in the States. At some point, I’d meet with their agent in New York to deliver the package, at which time they would pay me in cash, $18,000 USD.
Instead of getting mad and declining, stranding myself in the middle of nowhere barely able to breath, I told them I comprehend better by reading and I need to take notes, read it, then get back to them with additional questions (since they refused to email me their scheme in writing). I got out of there and went back to my hut. I texted R2 my displeasure on their true intent. Several times again, I’d run into R2, continuing to deny it’s a scam and they are the same people, etc. Who knows.
On several occasions here in Goa, I’ve suddenly acted on intuition. I’d get a feeling to walk a particular direction or eat at a particular place. Each time I followed it, I either ran into someone I knew or had a good conversation. Often times, I would then get introduced to other influential locals in the music scene or some type of insider knowledge.
I got into conversation with a loud older woman from Portugal, named Maria.
She was on break for 3 months, a teacher of French language to business people and teacher of Vedanta philosophy. In addition to her name-dropping several good guesthouses in other places I plan to visit, we discussed philosophy and shamanism. She introduced me to Darfur, an exotic looking guy big in the music scene here with a huge beard.
Maria had health issues when coming here too, until she “let go and went with the flow”. It’s like this place with its harsh environment is rejecting you, until some sort of mental agreement is reached.
Shamanic Self-Healing in the Arabian Sea
In lieu of one set of health issues disappearing and another appearing to replace them, I needed to change my mindset and actions. I woke up earlier, I did bodyweight exercises, I did yoga, and I meditated.
As sunset drew closer, I consumed a bit of hashish and took a slow intentional walk along the sea, where you could see sand ripples and the ebb and flow of a glistening red-orange setting sun. Colorful and crystalline impressions flooded my imagination. I started to get into a blend of meditative trance and Entheogenic mindset. Many things about my environment began to fade away; all that remained was my intent focus on the sea’s power and the sand ripple scrying surface I was slowly walking barefoot through.
I started to get very clear impressions of what I needed to do next. For example:
- Place your intention in the water
- Spill a handful of water over your head
- Picture your illness dissipating with each withdrawal of the tide
- With each new wave, imagine yourself being filled with fresh, healthy energy.
- Face the sun and confirm your actions
- Touch the ground, etc….
The next day, a particular weeklong stomach pain was 95% gone.
Anna from Russia
For a short week, I spent 24/7 with Anna from Russia; we met at a drum circle and she is now back home. It was fun, we still speak.
I met a cool guy named Andrei who is from the U.S. and also speaks Russian as part of his heritage, a huge advantage for him in this place. We randomly run into each other here and there to share good conversation. He mentioned apparently I’m doing well in India, as it’s like being dropped into a battle zone, especially for your first time in Asia. He traveled Asia for 2 years before attempting this place. He’s got a great positive outlook on life and a free spirit.
Live painting and concert at ASH
I can’t say enough about how super magical this place is. Organic structures, bonfires, tribal masks on trees, great stage and performances….
Small bonfire drum circle
I enjoyed this particular one more than the nightly chaotic sunset circle with no flow, heartbeat or unity.
I attended several, always fun! Psychedelic imagery, shamanic thumping bass and random samples. Crazy characters, baba’s dancing in ecstatic fervor, knee length dreads swinging everywhere, neon structures, the rushing waves of the sea.
Other curious things…
- A place where cows have the traffic right of way, can eat Chapatti from an impromptu to-go restaurant window and chow down on discarded coconuts.
- Despite the garbage everywhere with seemingly no public service to clean up, I had to pay 5 Rupees to use a public bathroom, which consisted of peeing on a wall. The guy tried to take my 10 Rupee bill and I had to fight for change of which I got 5 back, overpaying by 3 Rupees since the real price is 2 Rupees.
- ATM machines. There are only 2 in Arambol. Meaning get there early or suffer 20-30 person lines in the heat, stepping out of the way for vehicles and general chaos. The ATM is a room that only allows 1 person at a time, in addition to the guard who sits there. I don’t think it’s a cop; in fact I have seen ZERO cops in Goa. There is also a small withdrawal limit, 10,000 INR RUPEES, about $160 USD. Meaning I needed to make about 4-5 separate withdrawals this day to stock up on cash (nowhere accepts credit cards so far as I’ve experienced), and I had to pay for my month of accommodation. After about the 3rd withdrawal, someone came in and asked what the problem was and do I know there is a line? I opted then to exit and get back in line to avoid a fight. (In the mid 90’s when I lived in Amsterdam, I got in a fistfight for taking too long on a public pay phone, but that’s another story.) Upon getting back in line, the machine wouldn’t dispense any more cash this day…so I’ll need to walk 15 minutes another day and try again. When I went back I was able to make only one withdrawal before getting an error. I then needed to visit an Internet cafe and call Visa who marked my card as fraud, even though I specifically contacted them a few days ago to let them know I’m still traveling, which they confirmed. Sigh. When the machines run out of money, people wait, a truck is called to come and fill up the money.
- More than likely due to Goa being a touristy place this time of year and restaurants being constructed, then deconstructed after season (on the beach), most menus are all the same. “We specialize in Chinese, Indian, Continental, Russian, etc.” Once food is delivered, staff disappears. No checking back, no asking if things are OK. When it’s time for the bill, you can literally wait 1 hour if you don’t physically get up to find someone. As an experiment one night, I sat down and asked the Wi-Fi password which they helped with, and then they never offered a menu. After 30 minutes of maybe 10 staff members looking at their phones, sitting around and talking I yelled across the restaurant “My friend, are you taking food orders tonight or what?”
Then good luck if you need change (no credit cards), more waiting. Sometimes I just leave what is the estimated amount on the table and leave, not waiting for the bill. Not to mention on the beach, you’re always sitting in the sand (on a chair or ground cushion), having wild dogs run through the restaurant, or sit next to your table. On one occasion, I ordered my food, was told they are closing and need their money now, and then proceeded to turn off all the lights, except the one over my outdoor table. Another time I asked for sugar was given an almost empty container with a few ants in it. Yeah.
Due to many things not being reliable and wanting to avoid the mid day heat, things take a long time to get done. Things are getting easier as I go along however. For example, I’ve found pay by the hour Internet cafes usually have better Internet than restaurants.
- As mentioned above, just getting cash can be a multi day affair.
- You go one direction and end up somehow going another due to many reasons.
- You run into people, hours pass in conversation.
- Random parties get attended the night you planned to sleep early.
(Hang on…I need to wipe these few ants off my MacBook while typing this…)
- The water isn’t working when you want to shower.
- The power is off when you want to charge your devices.
- You open your hut door to sweep sand out and a staff member magically pops up “hello my friend” trying to start conversation.
- You go early to a restaurant with good Wi-Fi and that’s the day it’s not working, or you go late to avoid crowds as they “close at 11 pm”, but at 10pm you’re the only one there and they decide to kick you out and close early, etc.
- The limited surfaces in the hut are uneven (including the floor), so things often fall to the floor during daily use. A small annoyance.
With a more reliable location, I look forward to creating a daily routine that works.
Much like back home, I find myself being more comfortable alone (or with one other person) than in groups. One of the perks of solo travel discussed on travel blogs is how easy it is to meet others. I find this is true, but it also depends upon the intention of your trip. I am often preoccupied with work, for example writing this long post, getting to bed early so I can hit a Wi-Fi location before mid day sun, starting a client project, etc. I’m also being a bit reserved due to many health issues, I just don’t feel that sociable. I can’t even enjoy a beer for social lubrication, as it would wreck my stomach and the hashish is garbage, unless consumed in large amounts.
Also to add in fairness, other than Indians most people here are Russian with limited English. I’ve had multiple opportunities to join groups, approach people, approach that pretty girl looking my way or go to parties. Instead I’ve been choosing mostly to rest, restore health and solidify my location independent infrastructure.
As I slow down and find my center, I plan to be more social as the months go on. I’m not a backpacker on gap year travel, I’m focused on building up my location independent income so I can have permanent freedom, and some fun along the way in exotic locations, remembering to stop and smell the roses and get healthier.
Income and Expenses
During my first month away from the 9-5 world, I was only planning to relax, take some photos and write a couple of blog posts for Nomad40. No plans were underway to focus on eCommerce Warriors quite yet, which will be my main source of income. The business model is one-off high value projects ‘as needed’, vs. a collection of low end projects/clients. Nevertheless, a potential client has found me, we’ve been in discussions about the short-term project and an invoice to do the work has been paid. This project would not only pay for my month here, but also put some money in the bank.
I don’t necessarily plan on doing monthly income reports (as some months I plan to focus on things other than work), but I’ll share this time, as it’s a boon to getting this digital nomad thing off on the right foot. It also shows how I took a chance by putting myself out there, and things are magically coming together.
My overall plan is after 6 months in Asia to have about $5,000 more than the original savings amount I diligently started saving 3 years to start this journey with (just over $30k). Meaning I would not only break even, but also put some money away, confirming this lifestyle sustainability and boosting confidence. Per my about page before my last job in 2011, I was down to $43 in the bank.
For this experiment, I put $10,000 in a separate account and am using this as a barometer. If it get’s down to zero, time to reevaluate my actions and still have over 20k reintegration fund for the U.S.
If I can double this $10k to $20k working funds, I’m doing something right!
Client strategy project $2,250
Tasks for my previous employer: $220
Total income: $2,470
Hut rental in Goa: $473 (I could have gone cheaper & better, location is good)
One-way airline ticket to India: $28. (I used reward points….)
Food & living expenses: $580 (Taxi’s, food, local SIM, household goods, Internet cafes, doctor, club entries)
Student Loan: $195
IMG Global Health Insurance: $110
Straight Talk SIM card in U.S.: $49 (I want to keep my U.S. number).
Business overhead: $43.95 (Hosting $14.95, Mailchimp $10, Buzzstream $19)
Other services: $17.98 (Spotify $9.99, Netflix $7.99)
Total expenses: $1,496
Total positive difference left over: $966!
On March 5th, I’m journeying to the ancient city of Varanasi, a place of death, which is the oldest in India. This place is a pilgrimage for Hindus, much like Mecca for Muslims or Jerusalem for Jews. Fires, which have been lit thousands of years ago, still burn today, as the funeral pyres make their procession at the foot of the Ganges River. An old city of winding labyrinth streets where one can only travel on foot.
By chance, HOLI, festival of colors is happening on the 5th and 6th, with over a million people in attendance in Varanasi! This could be one of the most chaotic things a person can experience in this life.
An opportunity to find inner stillness within the storm. Ground. Root. Observe.
(Note: I didn’t take these particular photos. If they belong to you, email me.)
I’m feeling stronger and expect things to get easier as I move to more developed places over the coming months. If I can make it living in a hut in this environment, a place like Bangkok or Chiang Mai, Thailand should be a breeze.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and feedback!!