Monday, March 5, 2012

Goa to the Amazing Hampi

Stopping at Palolin beach for a bit and then heading back to Margoa to cetch the train to Hampi.
The bus ride from Goa to Hampi was a long 10 hour journey.  I just could not sleep and I sat on the bus daydreaming, which I often do on the bus.  Police kept coming on the bus to do drug checks? They kind of missed the guy behind me who stunk of marijuana, grass, flowers all this crap they smoke.  I nicely started to fall asleep and awoke to the  window was shoved in my face.  The high man behind me decided to open the window at 1 am with the cold.  After that point, I just woke up and decided to look up into the stars.  The stars were so bright in the sky and I was gazing up at them with the cold wind blowing through my hair while listening to love songs and again daydreaming. 

Arrival time in Hampi was 5am and of course we arrived at exactly 5am.   The buses always arrive on time, which I am pretty impressed with and shocked at times.  Getting off the bus with my eyes blurry from keeping my contacts in and my legs cold from wearing a skirt.  I immediately get approached by my favorite friends-the rikshas-not! I immediately walk the other way and they proceed to follow me and tell me a bus to Hampi is not coming until 7:30.

After ignorning them and walking 500 meters, I find a bus to hampi.  A riksha driver lies yet again-what else is new.  I am eager to leave Hospice-17K from Hampi- as Hospice is filthy and the city at night is scaring me. 

Arriving at 5:30, I peeked through the window to see the old ruins and temples.  I felt like I was in Greece at the Acropolis.  It was so nice yet a bit eery because of the darkness and the random people roaming the streets.  I hopped off the bus and wondered the streets walking behind riksha cars following them to the center of town.  I stumbled upon the temple where everyone was asleep on the floor.  Walking through the pitch black alleys by myself, I again questioned my sanity. 

But I just kept walking and feeling that guesthouses would eventually show up.   A few minutes later I found the river where everyone was bathing and preparing for pooja.  I watched them prepare the coconuts, flowers, and cut the bamboo leaves. I spoke with the swami who looked just like Sri Rama.  His face and smile was so lovely and ignited my spirit.   The families were bathing, kids were splashing each other in the water, and boys getting rowdy pushing one another.  It was very special arriving at sunrise and seeing the city in this light or before the light. 

I had my special time and then at 7am comes the rush of tourists coming for the boat.  All the good guesthouses are across the river.  When I say across the river, one thinks that it is a 10-15 minute journey.  The distance between sides is probably 50 feet, but they decide to make a boat between the sides to make money.  It is unfortunate that this amazing place is being congested with tourists, but it is what it is. 

I went around searching for rooms as far away from the center as possible. There are many tourist restaurants showing American movies at night and serving continental/western food.  I walk the opposite direction through the lush green rice fields to arrive at bamboo huts-Goa’s Corner full of backpackers. They have a rooftop for 100 rupees a night with a bunch of mats. I go to the top to find a bunch of monkeys climbing around and a French girl doing yoga.  I decide that I am going to spend an extra 50 rupees and just get my own room so I end up next door at Manju’s place. 

Manju is an Indian guy with a big belly and a sweet, Indian face and charm. We chat about Hampi and the mafia boys running the boat situation making 20 rupees for a five second journey.  I tell him that I want a quiet place and he says that it is very quiet and peaceful there.  Later I find this statement to be quite false. 

I head off the town area for a run and find the area I was truly looking for-the village! The women are all wearing the traditional Goan wear, kids carrying pots of water, coming back from school, farmers walking with herds of buffalo.  I was welcomed by many locals and I stopped into talk with Rama and other new friends. 

I proceeded to run forward, feeling such incredible energy, waiving at everyone and running uphill at full speed.  I ran to the opposite side of Hanuman temple and wanted to make it up for sunset so I hitched a ride back in that direction.  The next person I see is the Swami for another local temple-oh India.  He gives me a ride and we kindly part ways. 

I am experiencing such energy and happiness that I start to dance and jump up the long steps to the Hanuman.  I listen to my favorite Istanbul song on my IPOD and start dancing my way up the mountain, shaking my hips, and doing a Michael Jackson quick turn.  The local people were laughing and shaking my hand on the way down-oh the entertainment I provide- I love it. Where are the cameras again?

At the top is the beginning of sunset and it is incredible.  These little bridges connect the rocks and you can climb into different places to see the sunset.  It is infested with tourists- a guy on the phone talking about cocaine in a holy place really?

I climb down to the edge of the cliff-dangerous-yes. Worth it-yes.  I lay on the edge listening to Beethoven, doing some meditation, and waiting until there is no sun anymore in the sky.  It was a very special, unforgettable moment.  All the tourists cleared out and there I sat in silence.  The best part of sunset in India is the 20-30 minutes after where the sky turns pink and you can see the stars with a dash of sun. 

It was pitched black and I guided myself off to the temple and that was the beginning of an incredible spiritual moment.  I walked in and six worshippers were playing the concha, banging the drums, and ringing the bells.  I was welcomed with warm smiles and given my own bell to ring.

There I sat with the worshippers, the man chanting Sanskrit and playing his banjo inside a small passage way, the eight of us all ringing the bell, following the beats, and feeling spiritually connected with the moment and sounds.  My arm got tired, but I just kept ringing the bell as hard as I could.  I closed my eyes and concentrated on the beats, the rhythm, the chanting, and felt my soul ALIVE.  I put my heart into the bell and the moment immersing myself in this beautiful pooja.  Ten minutes later the bells stopped and we performed aarati.  My ears felt muffled from all the loud noise.  I felt my skin and it felt like a dust had taken over creating this unbelievable softness-such a surreal moment. 

I sat with my hands in prayer position amongst the worshippers all chanting Sanskrit.  I stayed for a bout ten minutes, but then I knew I had to leave because it was dark and I was by myself walking down.  Walking down the steps, I was in a dream like state from what just happened and I continued to hear their chants and then a loud shouting and clapping at the end.  It was so beautiful-wow.

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