Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Palolem, day 4; a long walk

This morning, I decided to take a walk to the southern end of the beach and see what there was.

The fishermen had just brought in the morning's first haul and even just after sunrise there was a crowd gathered. The cows were also up, but the dogs still lay sleeping in their little sand nests they'd dug out for the night.

Palolem is a crescent-shaped beach with both ends capped by large stone protruding from the sea. As I ran out of sand, a bridge continued up to a collection of huts beneath the palm trees, invisible from the main part of the beach. I continued past and came to a small village, then another small, very secluded beach with a small lagoon. A single boat sat just off the sand. There were only a few small buildings that looked more like homes than beach huts, an a small convenience store selling water, soda, and Indian potato chips. I enjoy the quiet and calm of this beach and thought if I ever made it back, I might spend a night or two here. I bought a bottle of water and a small bag of tomato-basil chips, then headed back to Palolem.

I'd taken a liking to Geeta over the few days we'd been in Palolem. On our first morning I'd noticed her passing our hut a few times while I sat in the hammock going through my Lonely Planet guide. She had on a bright red shalwar that contrasted against her brown skin and thick black braid. She was more cute than beautiful but had an elegant charm. On our second day, I convinced Shelley to stop by her shop with me and so I could have an excuse to talk to her. Shelley was more than willing to help break the ice! Since then, I would stop by and chat afer swimming or going for a walk and one evening she invited me to share some food with her and her sister in-law.

I learned that it had been her moms store until a few months earlier when she passed away , and this was her first year running it alone. Her father had also died not long before so she and her brothers were still adjusting to life on their own.

Her oldest brother had his wife and beautiful baby and was busy trying to get his own business started at another spot on the beach while her other brother was a self-proclaimed "Giglio" and seemed to be doing a great job of living up to the title, bragging of the western women three times his age that he'd been staying with, and they both seemed to leave Geeta alone to run the business until they needed some money.

I was surprised when she said that she was only 18, already she seemed more capable than both her brothers. I was sure she was at least 24 if not maybe even 26. After coming here from Korea where people seems generally younger than their age by western standards to India where people seemed much older, both physically and mentally, I was constantly surprised at the discovery of people's ages. She told me her brothers would have to find her a husband soon, since 18 is a good age to be married at. As much as it floored me to hear an 18-year-old tell me this, being a westerner in India, the locals were just as surprised that I was 28 and wasn't married, let alone that I didn't have any children.

Anyway, life seemed to happen quickly in this part of the world, not that it takes much longer anywhere else...

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