THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF TRAVELING LIGHT

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to BADFISH … ONE YEAR OLD TODAY! YAY!!!

 Badfish’s first post on 17 January 2015:   Serenity  

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Most everyone aboard the 90-minute Air India flight from the Maldives to India is heading home on vacation. There are perhaps ten other Western travelers onboard. The plane is not large, and surprisingly, little more than half full, a rare and enjoyable event when traveling these days. There is one toddler aboard; he riddles the plane with squeals and tramples the toes of one man’s patience.

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Flying from the Maldives to India is like boarding a time machine: it’s something like 500 miles, but more like 100 years from Male Island to Kovalam Beach in Southern India.

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Kerala snake boat race
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Kerala lies at the south-west tip of India
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Kovalam lies just south of Trivandrum, now renamed Thiruvananthapuram

If you peruse airport bookstores these days, you’ll most likely find numerous books about Westerners seeking spiritual enlightenment in India, perhaps most notably Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat Pray Love. We might surmise this is a fairly new phenomenon. However, Somerset Maugham traveled to India by steam ship in 1938, and visited various spiritual sites and spiritual masters, including the highly-venerated Sri Ramana Maharshi at his ashram in southern India. I read that when he met Sri Ramana, Maugham encountered a spiritual experience, and fainted. His book, The Razor’s Edge, is perhaps a [semi] fictional account of his adventure in India, and was a popular and successful book when first published, and you can still buy new editions on Amazon.

Over the years, I have traveled to India numerous times. During these visits, I have stayed in various ashrams, meditated, practiced yoga, always with the intention of moving toward spiritual growth. But perhaps there is such a thing as “a bridge too far.” When I’m in India and around spiritual energy, I feel like my kundalini  rises, and it might actually be possible to levitate in meditation. But then I leave India and travel home or to some place like Amsterdam, and my energy and kundalini begin to puddle around my ankles. And stays there—the proverbial one step forward, two steps back.

The notions of spirituality and paradise may have something in common. The concept of paradise is relative, and seems to change from one land to another, perhaps from one person to another. To some in today’s world, paradise may simply mean persevering. The young man sitting next to me on the Air India flight harbors the unvarnished light of realism in his eyes. Eyes like this are burdened with the weight of unfulfilled dreams that may never materialize. He works at a luxury resort on a desert island in the Maldives, yet simply cannot wait to return to his humble home in Kerala.

He tells me his name is Sanjay. He wears a T-shirt that asserts: “It’s NOT Me, It’s You.” He works as a bar tender on a small island in the South Male Atoll. When I comment on his T-shirt, he tells me that one day a customer was wearing this very T-shirt, and Sanjay liked it so much, he asked if he could buy it from him—a double- shot-of-tequila kind of guy. The customer said no, but before he left the bar, he pulled off the T-shirt, and left it in the leather receipt wallet along with his tip. Sanjay tells me it’s his favorite shirt. He has five brothers and sisters, he’s the oldest and sends money home every month to help pay for their schooling. His whole family, including grand parents, will be greeting him when we land at Trivandrum International. Sanjay is a fairly thin man, even for an Indian. The T-shirt hangs loose on his small frame.

Sanjay is one of the few people I’ve met while traveling who knows where Abu Dhabi is. At first, this surprises me, but then I realize it makes sense because most Indians I meet in Abu Dhabi come from Kerala. Sanjay used to work at a large 5-star hotel in Dubai. He believes life is better in Dubai, there are more things to do and see there, but the money is better in the Maldives. This, too, is understandable because my chin dropped like a heavy boulder when I read on the menu at the resort where I stayed that a hamburger would set you back—are you ready?— $42 dollars. Forty-freakin-two. Dollars. And if you want to rent a Jet Ski, no problem: $50 for ten minutes. Paradise might sometimes mean you’ll be fasting a few days. Or turning vegan and munching kale. Or hijacking a Jet Ski to perpetrate some illegal spear fishing.

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One of the greatest delights while traveling outside of the United States these days is filling your stainless steel water bottle full of drinking water or fresh-squeezed mango juice and carrying it aboard the aircraft after sending it through the airport X-ray machine in your carry-on bag. Places like India, the Maldives, Bali are simply not as concerned about radical miscreants. No travelers take their belts off, nor their shoes, at X-ray machines in places like this. It’s the way traveling was maybe 15 years ago. However, if security spots a 10-inch Bowie knife in your carry-on, you’ll probably raise some eyebrows and lose it: they know the difference between unnecessary fear and stupidity.

One of the worst experiences while traveling outside the US these days is forgetting that you left your favorite folding knife in your carry-on, a knife you’ve carried daily and traveled with for twenty years—purchased from a wily, hard-bargaining old lady wearing a pigtail and silk robe in a stall along Hong Kong’s Cat Street Market, a small, thin, lightweight, elegantly unpretentious knife with a minimalist flat, stainless steel handle that you used for everything from cutting twine to spreading peanut butter. Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter most.

Air India makes a rather clumsy, discordant landing at Trivandrum International Airport. The locals haul their thin bags through the relatively small terminal—there are only three baggage carousels. Somehow, I am one of the first to reach Baggage Claim from Immigration, and my bag is one of the first onto the carousel. When this kind of good fortune happens, I have two thoughts: first, “very cool,” and second, “uh-oh.” You never know what the cosmos might have up its sleeve for you when things like this happen. Usually, I go with, and relish, the “very cool” but keep an eye open for the possible “uh-oh” to appear somewhere in the day.

There are no X-ray machines operating at the exits of the air terminal. I almost buy a sim card for my phone before leaving the terminal. When traveling, I follow a number of self-imposed “travel rules” gleaned from considerable experience: Rule #3, if you see a photo, take it; Rule #6, if you see something you need, buy it when you see it—do not wait, ever. But for some unknowable reason, I decide to break my own rule and wait till I get to the hotel to buy the sim card. Perhaps I’m anxious to get to a beach I believe I do not want to see (FYI—I have made no travel rule about voicing sarcasm toward myself).

I walk outside expecting to find the driver from my hotel carrying a sign with my name. There is no driver—“uh-oh.” I feel slightly guilty that I’ve come to enjoy being picked up by hotel limos (they call them limos, but it’s a Toyota, some with no a/c). This was not my method of travel for most of my years of travel. Usually, I would walk to town from a ferry or train station or bus terminal—in the heat of day and humidity near the equator. Even if I could afford a rickshaw or taxi, I walked carrying my bags, and loved it. These days, I lean more toward comfort and ease and less toward experiencing the wonders of travail during travel. I’m a little miffed my driver is not here; I probably look like one of those fuming first-class air passengers at check in who is forced to wait one minute to get checked in. I begin to sense that I have changed in ways I never would have guessed I might.

I actually harbor a bit of fear about landing at some airport and your hotel driver not being there. I carry that fear because that is exactly what happened the time Lisa and I flew in to Lima, Peru, and arrived very late at night. Lisa had come down with some kind of illness, perhaps food poisoning or flu, during the flight (another reason I carry my own food on flights and don’t eat airline food, ever: Rule #9). As Lisa and I stood there in the center of the Lima arrival hall under bright lights, we felt like animals in a zoo on display cordoned off by heavy rope in front of hundreds of drivers and other people waiting for passengers on planes arriving along with ours. I walked again and again up and down the long row of drivers with signs, but no one showed up with my name on their sign.

The whole idea of booking the hotel driver was so we wouldn’t worry about how to get to our hotel that late at night. You can’t always trust a regular taxi driver to know where a 3-star hotel might be located in a third world. Many taxis don’t have a/c, let alone Sat Nav. Lisa was throwing up in a bag in front of all those people, I was frantically searching for my name on a sign. This was not our finest hour as travel buddies. The hotel limo never showed, and worse, when we ended up taking a regular taxi and finally arrived at the hotel, they had given our room away (it was after midnight) and didn’t have another one available.

So yeah, I’m a little miffed my driver is AWOL. The policeman on duty points to the row of three taxis waiting in line, but I decide to wait a few minutes to see if the driver shows. The terminal clock seems to have stopped. There is no crowd of people outside Trivandrum International; it’s a rather odd, solitary feeling. While waiting there, one of the Western travelers who was onboard my flight meanders past, an older man. Well, he’s younger than me, but not a young man. He seems frayed around the edges. He lifts his large backpack from the trolly to his back, and slings a smaller daypack to the front of his body—the now-traditional and efficacious backpacker arrangement of bags. He slips a well-worn boonie hat on his head and begins walking into town.

I’m wondering if I will ever travel like that again. Part of me admires the idea; part of me simply does not want to deal with it again. I wonder if I am I getting old, or jaded, or lazy, or smart? One thing I realize is that this journey I am now on will most likely be the last trip I make where I will not be thinking about the expense of the trip. Once I retire and no longer have a pay check rolling in, I will not be so free with spending money on sojourns. And I will have to return to a more frugal mindset when traveling, which was my mindset for most of my years traveling. I can do frugal; I had plenty of practice.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell states that doing something for 10,000 hours is the “magic number” for becoming truly great at it: great as in Michael Jordan great, or Bill Gates great, or Beatles great. I’ve surpassed 10,000 hours of frugal travel. I’m the Michael Jordan of traveling frugally. I’ve spent months at a time in $4 hotel rooms. But now, I’m just not sure I really want to get back to that mindset. Having sufficient money makes traveling so much more…doable. Think about it: would you rather walk into town wearing two backpacks and a boonie hat in tropical heat or sip mint juleps at the airport bar and be miffed that your limo is late?

Just as I turn to walk back inside the terminal to purchase a local sim card, so I can maybe phone the hotel, the policeman calls out to me as my driver appears seemingly out of nowhere: smiling, waving a sign with my name on it, apologetic. I can’t describe the feeling of seeing your name on a plaque held by a driver.

The road from Trivandrum to Kovalam, a relatively new beach resort where my hotel sits, is fairly-well maintained for India. But the traffic is hectic: two lanes of huge trucks, buses, pint-sized Tata cars made in India (that look more like shoe boxes than cars), motorcycles, and motorized rickshaws all weaving together in a moving mosaic of engines and rubber and steel and rusting chrome. As we near Kovalam, ancient tree limbs arch over both lanes of the road. We pass a whole hillside of coconut trees partying with wild banana plants. Then the road begins to deteriorate, until it turns into pot holes and deep cracks. Then into dirt. Bright billboards advertise toothpaste and deodorant. Political posters plaster wood fences. Coca Cola is everywhere. Traffic stops while a thin man wearing a white lungi herds a cow to the side of the road. Two women in bright multi-colored saris and slick black hair peer into the window of a bakery.

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A Keralite man sits at the edge of the ocean
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Two Russian women say cheese

Kovalam in a previous lifetime was a calm fishing village huddled around its crescent beaches. But my guidebook says these days, Kovalam is “Kerala’s most developed resort.” Keep in mind that everything is relative. Kovalam is not the Maldives by any measure of relativity. Nearly 26,000 locals live here. Indian city dwellers from Trivandrum visit on weekends or to vacation, as it lies a convenient 9 miles away from the city. You will be hard-pressed to find a trash can in Kovalam; you might feel guilty if you toss a tissue to the sand along a narrow alley, but sadly, you might find yourself doing just that…when in Rome.

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Geography is married to history in this part of the world. Most Keralites derive their ancestry from Dravidian and Aryan cultures that long ago settled in Kerala and intermixed with each other. Variant other ancestries derived from centuries of trading and contact with non-Indian cultures when people such as the Portuguese, Arabs, Jews and other ethnicities settled in Kerala, mostly to trade. According to Sumerian records (2000 BC), Kerala was a major exporter of spices, especially black pepper, which a couple thousand years later, the Romans paid way too much gold for. During these ancient times, Kerala also traded with Babylonians, Assyrians, and Phoenicians. At one point, Kerala pepper was used as currency. I have to admit, the pepper in Kerala tastes quite different than elsewhere. It’s like pepper on steroids. You don’t need to pour as much as you normally would on your omelet. The flavor is richer, smoother, more…well… peppery.

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View from my hotel room at Kovalam’s Lighthouse Beach
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Lighthouse beach with it’s black sand, 180 degrees from Maldives white

My hotel room balcony overlooks the beach. I’m amazed at the number of people running or speed walking on the sand at 7:30 in the morning. The waves are small, but powerful, and there are boulders below the cliff near the lighthouse, so it can get dangerous surfing or swimming. Every year, a number of people die in the waters off Kovalam. But for some reason, I’m strongly drawn to the ocean here; I’ve decided I’m going to body surf those waves, maybe three feet high this morning. I’m not going to speed walk anywhere, though. I’m still coughing and hacking from the Maldives flu, but I’m feeling more like a person now, more like moving around. And oddly, I am beginning to miss my worthless Maldives Jacuzzi. It is strange just what a man can get used to while traveling—worthless Jacuzzis, Toyota limos, eating curry rice with your fingers, vegemite. OK, maybe not vegemite.

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Local fishing boat

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Kovalam’s surf

Some people say that when your snot turns yellow or green, it’s a sign of infection and due to bacteria. But no. When you have a cold or infection, your body sends white blood cells to the area. White blood cells, which originate in bone marrow, are part of our body’s immune system and fight bacteria. And these white cells contain a greenish-colored enzyme, I forget its name. If you collect enough of those cells in your snot maker, your snot can become colored. Apparently, I am very good at this. I have multi-colored snot. I’m a natural-born self healer, obviously with my 10,000 hours of snot manufacturing completed. I’m the Michael Jordan of snot making. I think this kind of thing runs in my family; I have a half sister who may be better at it than me.

 

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A local lady cools off in the shallow end

I ease slowly into the ocean at Kovalam’s Lighthouse Beach, the water is clear (but no, not Maldives clear) and fairly warm but still refreshing. I dive under the first wave that rolls in, whitewater surrounds and massages the length of my body. This is exactly what a Jacuzzi should do. I come out the back side of the wave, and for the first time in over a week, I feel almost human. No pressure on my brain, no pressure on my face and sinuses. No pressure on the roots of my teeth. No healthy green snot. At this moment, the ocean feels like I’ve crawled back into the womb.

I used to surf when I was young. I was never a hot-shot surfer, but I could catch a wave, stand up on the board, walk to the nose and hang five or a quasimodo. Those were the days when boards were 9 or 10 feet long. And no leash tied to your ankle. When you fell off your board, you were usually in for a long swim because if the wave caught your board, which it usually did, it could easily push it all the way to shore, which it usually did. I got really good at swimming; I’m pretty sure I’ve done my 10,000 hours of swimming, also.

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A crescent of Kovala Beach from the lighthouse cliff

As I catch my first wave body surfing at Kovalam Beach, I understand immediately how someone might get lost at sea here. These waves are maybe three or four feet high, not large waves. But they are powerful. I have to actually concentrate on keeping my back strong and straight, so the wave doesn’t bend me in two. These are easily some of the most powerful small waves I’ve encountered. I’m actually a little afraid I might get hurt in these waves; I never had thoughts like that when I was young; in those days, if there were any-size wave, you’d find me out in it with no fear. I once paddled out into 25-foot waves at La Jolla’s Windansea Beach and gave no thought to fear—uh…until I found myself freefalling down the face of one of those monsters. I guess it just may be like Betty Davis says: “Getting old is not for sissies.” But I can’t stop myself from going back out to catch more waves, again and again. Evidently, you can take the surfer out of the waves, but you can’t take the waves out of … wait, is that going to make any sense?

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In the late afternoon, I stroll along the black sand at the south end of Kovalam’s crescent-shaped Lighthouse Beach. The cliff arches its rocky spine toward the sunset, holds the Vizhinjam Lighthouse aloft, and braces its rugged foot against each wave that washes ashore. I scramble over boulders, then begin to climb the stairs leading up to the lighthouse. I want to climb to the top of the lighthouse, see the view from that high. But I arrive too late, the keepers are just locking the door. One keeper gives me a thumbs up and says, “Tomorrow, ten, open.” Wild jackfruit hangs from a thick tree. Children run down the stairs, climb over the rocks and tumble into the sand, then race to the water. Two young men smoke clove cigarettes and take selfies with the lighthouse in their backgrounds. A woman in a purple and blue sari carries a baby and saunters along the dirt path. A brisk breeze lifts sea eagles into holding patterns high above the coconut palms and hibiscus. Jungle geranium blossoms lacquer the air.

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Local thong vendor

 

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Kovalam’s black sand

 

 

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Traditional Kalaripayattu fighting

I sit at the top of the cliff a long while. I peruse the ocean and consider where to travel next. Kerala is known as one of the most intensely spiritual areas in the world: Hindus, Muslims, Christians and even a small number of Indian Jews thrive in harmony here. I consider following in Somerset Maugham’s footsteps to get a hit of spirituality by visiting the Sri Ramana Ashram in the sleepy, yet touristy, spiritual town of Tiruvannamalai, nearby in Tamil Nadu. Or maybe I’ll just travel straight up the west coast of Kerala and visit Amritapuri, the ashram of Amritanandamayi where a few thousand devotees live, see what that scene is all about. Ramana Maharshi left his body in 1950, so won’t be at the ashram where Maugham met him and fainted.

Amritanandamayi spends much of her time away from her ashram, traveling India and other countries. However, I’ve been told that she just happens to be in her ashram at this moment in Amritapuri. That facilitates my decision making: a live guru and a warm hug seems somehow better than no hug from a guru who has left his body. We might want to call it karma, or serendipity; I like life when decisions are made easy for me (especially if there is also no “uh-oh” showing up later). I decide to continue north, get a hug, move toward enlightenment in “Gods Own Country,” the slogan you see advertised all over Kerala: one, because it’s such beautiful country, and two, because there is so much spirituality happening here.

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You asked for it:  Badfish in a thong on black Kerala beach

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At this moment, I sit below soaring sea eagles and feel content. I have a travel plan. I’m nearing a spiritual path—I’m traveling through God’s own country. I’ll receive a hug and hopefully a little grace. The travel angels seem to be dropping rose petals on the path approaching tomorrow. The aroma of the ocean begins to climb the cliff. The sun dips into the Lakshadweep Sea, the sky blooms into five shades of red. I begin to wonder just what it is about the ocean that draws me to it even when I believe I no longer desire a beach. I believe I may be in touch with my inner fish.

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A sea eagle soars above Vizhinjam Lighthouse, Kovalam

NEXT POST: we travel north along Kerala’s coast to the backpacker haven of Varkala, where a good cappuccino costs more than breakfast.

If you were to guess—would you think I take a bus, a train, or a faux limo to Varkala?

Have you had an interesting experience with a taxi or other transport during your travels?

 In my next post, would you prefer I stick with “snot” or revert back to “poop” because honestly, I can do either in India?

You can find more entries in DP Photo Challenges here: Weight(less)

and here: Alphabet

You can find more entries in Lucile’s Photo Rehab here:   Photo Rehab

170 comments

  1. The order in which you arranged pictures to prose is fascinating. For example, you follow a paragraph about chasing a spiritual experience with the picture, “You asked for it. Badfish in a thong.” I’m going to meditate on this to see if, deep down, that is really what I am searching for in my life.
    Ooommmm….
    (three seconds later…)
    From the depths of my 3-second trance I emerge from a vision of my third eye squeezed shut and my sex chakra going totally black. So, I thank you for guiding me to a precious discovery that I have absolutely no need to see any man in a thong. Ever. Dunno why we women get away with it, but not you fellas. Therefore, my vote is for green mucus.
    I started writing more, but it was turning from a “comment” into a bonafide blog post, so I’ll stop here. Always enjoy reading your stuff. Happy travels!

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    • LRose…right, that is almost a certified blog post, and you are welcome to leave those here any time. And I did have a bit of a struggle with just where to put the photos. And just where would you put a photo of a man in his thong unless it’s after a paragraph on spirituality? You may not want to read my next post…there is a photo of a man in a thong (THAT kind of thong). Thanks for reading, I’m glad you’re here!!

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      • That’s just it! I honestly don’t know where you put a picture of a man in his thong. But I will definitely read anything you post! Always a ton of fun. The rest of what I was going post was my scary experience body surfing, and my father’s attachment to his pocket knife that nearly got him arrested (oh, well, I guess I just did!)

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  2. Bad Fish, Bad Fish, swimming in the water. ♫ I’m glad you don’t dislike beaches because you can’t swim, and approve of a surfer you mental image. In thongs. Thank you for this account, as always it has spurred so many memories and almost pushed me into action. (Almost. It’s too cold here in Roma, if I was to do what Romans do, I’d be snoring right now.) Cin cin for your anniversary, I’m closing in on my second (and also my upload limit, so I’ll have to start over), but I sincerely believe that your one year has done more for humanity than my two. Be well! (I vote for limo and no regular snotty-shitty tales – or we’ll be expecting more and more and you’ll just have to deliver.)

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    • Manja…love the TUNE!! It could be my new theme song. Glad you liked the post, and that you got some memories from it! Did you surf? Or take limos? Hey…tell me…how do you know you are closing in on your upload limit? Is it listed somewhere? And do you really have to start over, a new blog altogether, you can’t add more space??
      Limo…a good guess.

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      • Ohh, let me tell you about the only time I surfed. Also, it was the Adriatic-type surf. You know, what a SAIL. I was standing on the board grabbing on the sail, the wind was about to start pushing me around – when I slipped, barefoot as I was, and I fell and let me tell you… if I was a bloke, it would be MUCH worse. About limos I’m even more clueless. But I know about the upload limit because it shows it to you in Dashboard>Media>Library. I’m at 79% right now. I won’t mind starting again, I’ve already chosen a new Theme (Dyad). You can add more space if you pay, I’m sure.

        As for the tune, I nicked it from PJ Harvey. 😀

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  3. The only thing better than your usual beautiful photography is your writing. I feel like I’ve been taken on a gentle journey of discovery, introspection, and subtle humour …. case in point, BF in a thong 🙂

    Although I’ve never travelled in a first class fashion, I’ve had to come to terms with the harsh realities of a strict travel budget now that I no longer draw a salary. Yes, I’m familiar with how to be lean, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it :/

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    • Joanne…thanks again so much for sticking around, and hanging out here. I think maybe you were taken on a gentle journey of discovery…and I wasn’t even aware I was discovering anything. And I’m generally no first-class traveler either. I’d call Maldives first class…and funny enough, I didn’t appreciate it all that much (but the flu issue didn’t really help). And right…lean and mean travel is cool, but may not be a first choice!, but still…it’s travel!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Hmmmmm. I didn’t need the snot lesson. Especially not twice!
    Gorgeous gorgeous evocative writing, I travelled along with you, with the easy rambling flow of it all. You took me on a journey. Thank you. You also got some *amazing* photographs! I think better than I’ve seen from you before.
    Hugs from me,
    Alison

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    • Yeah, I’m sorry…I’m sure nobody needs another snot lesson. Some people think it’s funny but it snot.
      Photos: really? I was actually disappointed in my photos this post. Most of them didn’t “speak” to me, I thought they were dull, but…hey, I am glad you like them!
      AND thanks for the HUG!!! AND thanks for being my (I was going to say oldest) longest-standing commenter…you were the first, I think, on my very first post. And, you were the main reason I finally got my act together to finally put a blog into cyberworld…so thanks for everything!!! You’re an inspiration, I don’t know how you travel and post and comment. Do you ever sleep? Do you take a few dwarves along to help?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations Badfish – you made it through a year of blogging!

    I considered going to the Maldives just for kicks, but after reading about the $42 hamburger I’m glad I didn’t go there during my recent six-month romp. Reading about your past surfing experience reminds me of that time I learned to stand-up paddle in Indonesia. I have a terrible sense of balance so I kept on falling over the side of the board. That was pretty frustrating.

    My favourite mode of transport in India was the taxi. I loved how you could hire one to take you 300+ kilometres to another place. That said, Bama and I had the misfortune of getting lost in Bangalore for 5 hours (no joke) because our taxi driver from Hampi didn’t know where he was going. We got a circular tour of the city at rush hour in heavy rain… and we got so frustrated with the driver because he couldn’t understand our request to simply phone the hotel and ask for directions.

    I think you took a faux-limo with no A/C to Varkala. And keep it going with the snot stories – this is the first time I’ve heard about the green enzyme in our white blood cells. As for poop stories, there was one time I saw a kid squat and do his business on a plastic bag in the street, then turn around and ask for money. That was the moment I knew I had to leave India and flee to Nepal (it was Kolkata though, not Kerala).

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    • James…thanks so much for hanging out here this past year, especially while traveling and writing at the same time. I don’t know how you do all that, really. I’m impressed (and not sure I will be able to do that), but I have learned to remember to take photos of my food (from reading your posts!).
      And yeah…a cheap taxi…what a great concept. And SOOOO much easier than finding a bus or train station and cueing in line and hastling with getting on or off!!!
      Yeah…if I saw some kid poop and ask for money for it, I think I’d head for Nepal, also!! Gawd, eh?

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  6. Loved this post all the way from the guy on the plane, through the very colorful shot to your inner fish. Is your inner fish Goodfish in Water? Your writing is so engaging, humorous and informative. I chuckled out loud several times. It must be nice to be the Michael Jordan of so many things. One of the places I chuckled was how your kundalini puddles around your ankles when not amongst people of kundalini like vibration. Me too. Those 2 steps back are always a bit disappointing. I hope your next leg of your journey is a good one, and I look forward to hearing of it.
    Peace
    Mary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary…thanks so much for hanging out here on my birthday, and I love that you loved the post. I actually had fun writing it, although at first I didn’t know quite where to begin or what to say…don’t know why. I suppose if I have an inner fish, it must be Goodfish in Water, eh!!! It would be nice to be the Michael Jordan of many things, if they weren’t quite THOSE things!!!
      Kundalini…right. Mine seems to be getting tired of all the ups and back downs!

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  7. You’ve only been blogging a year?! It feels like forever and you’re sooo good at what you do! Happy blogsary! Thank you for your stories, funny, witty, inspiring, thought provoking, sometimes dirty. Yeah, snot and poop are dirty. Thongs, not so much. So, I believe, gleaning from this post, you are going to take the toyota limo in your next journey. Convenience and ease over frugality and misery. But at any rate, that picture of you in your thongs would have to do. No thanks to the 42$ burger though. Dang!

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  8. You tell a good tale BF equally as engaging as those photos to drool over, but I’m not a lover of snot or poo for that matter, but needs must. I reckon you will take a taxi to your next destination. Enjoy the ashram and I hope you find the inner fish! Happy blogoversary 🙂

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    • I know…meandering. See, that’s actually the way my mind works. Or rather…does not work. But thanks for hanging here and commenting on my birthday!

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  9. Fantastic post…In my youth I was a big fan of Razor’s Edge, and contrary to most critics I loved the movie version with Bill Murray…I owned it on VHS which really made no sense because I was living in a Chevy van touring through the US. I had no electricity let alone any device to play it on (oh, the old days of bulky electronics!). But somehow having it reminded me that it was all a spiritual journey…
    And I too find myself asking the question whether I’m “old, or jaded, or lazy, or smart” and the answer is “yes.” It comes with travel mastery.
    Thank you for the snot lesson ~ seriously, just this morning I resolved to look up why snot turns green, and here you are, explaining it to me like a gift from the universe while I eat my morning eggs….perhaps not good timing, but isn’t that the way of things?
    And lastly, Happy Blogbirthday! Your prose & photos have been a highlight of my blogreading year.

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    • Paula…thanks so much for hanging out with me all this time, I’m glad you’re here and keep coming back! I’m not sure if I saw the movie with Bill Murray…was it the one that was his first serious role, and controversial? VHS–ha, the horror, the horror! And no electricity…I think I would have liked knowing you then!!
      And just so you know…I traveled the US in a VW van (but no VHS).
      Serendipity—how very cool that you wondered, and then I came along. But yeah, maybe not at breakfast with your eggs. I hope they weren’t fried?
      And thanks…YAY..a blogbirthday, number one. Thanks again for your inspiration to continue!

      Liked by 1 person

      • yes ~ it was Bill Murray’s first, serious (perhaps therefore) controversial role…and in a VW van! I think I saw you ~ that guy in the parking lot in Arcada who’d taken apart his engine then put it back together? Hahaha, seriously, I had a VW van once, but it was a 73 (epic fail). Love them though – life in a VW van is a different pace, eh? And yes, the eggs were a viscous over easy….mmmm….

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        • oooooh…sorry about the over-easy eggs…brutal way to start your day.
          I LOVED my VW’s…I had numerous vans, as well as beetles in those early days. I drove a van from Colorado all the way to Costa Rica one year. Blew the engine on the return trip, limped into the country doing about 40 mph top speed, smoking and sputtering.

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    • India is fairly cool. Kerala might be an interesting place, life seems a little more peaceful and perhaps higher quality there than many other places. What piece have you seen? I’ve never been to the east, but may have that chance in March.

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      • I have only been to Delhi twice and Agra so a very very small part. One was for travel and the other to view NGOs in the slums which was extremely eye opening. I have read a lot on India and would really like to go spend some time seeing it. I also would love to see the mountains and do some hiking.

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        • I have been to India numerous times, and NEVER made it to Delhi or the Taj (did you see that?). You would like Rishikesh, where sadhus hang and do yoga. Kerala was different, almost “real.”

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          • Oh I would love to go see the Sadhus hang out and do yoga! I did make it to the Taj but it was a very very long day as it took us 11 hours there and back by car and it is only about 110 km from Delhi! Then we flew out at one am the same day and both my dad and I got severely sick due to something we ate and my dad ended up in the hospital when we got home! It was scary. Delhi Belly is real!

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  10. Great to hear from you.

    Would write more, especially about my own Windansea adventures (not sure now how I ever carried one of those long boards by myself), but am doing my own snot-color experiments here in Washington State. Feel like crap. So looking forward to more from you, especially if you made it to get an Amma Hug. Hang tight (or hang ten, if you are lucky!)

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    • I know…surfboards were sooo long in those days, and I wasn’t an extremely large man/kid. You surfed Windansea? Cool. Did you live in San Diego? I was there 10 years.
      Good luck with your snot situation! I hope it’s green? I’m hanging ten on this desk chair right now…

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      • Never actually surfed Windansea…too chicken (or maybe smart?) I stuck to the smaller, longer rides in Pacific Beach (Tourmaline Canyon and the end of Grand Street). Lots of night time adventures up in La Jolla though, but my grand-kids might read this someday so….

        I grew up in San Diego. Was there until I ran away and ended up in Natchez, Mississippi. Very long story.

        But I did do a “Term Paper” on surfing while I was in that Deep South high-school. I demonstrated “hanging ten” on a piano bench in the music room. Got an “A”.

        Back to the color diagnosis now. My blog Post this morning wore me out.

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        • SMART…is the proper word, especially if it’s over six feet high. I used to live straight up the road from Tourmaline Canyon, I walked to the beach. You ran away from San Diego and ended up in Mississippi??? It’s usually the other way around.
          But get this…I did a speech in college (in San Diego) on surfing, brought my board in, and hung ten…and also got an A!

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  11. Bus, yes, and neither, thank you. Other than the two identical paragraphs about snot, this was a winner of a post! Truly gorgeous photos and the usual meandering journey through your destination and your mind, the meshing of which brings me great enjoyment. I never used to arrange airport transportation either, but now that I’m (slightly) older and especially when traveling alone, I want to have the peace of mind that comes with a sign with my name on it. Alas, we also had a no-show in Bogota last month (but worked it out) – keeping fingers crossed for a man with a sign when I arrive solo in Managua this week! When do you start up again? I go back on the 26th.

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    • Bus…that’s a good guess. And JEESH, Alison said something about “twice” and I thought maybe I’d mentioned it last post. I wonder how that happened? Although I did experience a couple glitches posting this thing, but not with that paragraph? Cyber-goonies?
      I’m happy someone can follow the journey through the destination and my mind…sometimes it gets confusing even for me! So thanks for following through the rabbit hole.
      I also never used to arrange a hotel before I got to a destination. Now, I want one at least for the first night or two. With nice sheets. Preferably, a/c. And a fridge.
      Did I miss a post on Bogota of yours? I’ll have to check. Managua…you travel a lot, you know? To exotic places. And alone? What’s your story?
      I start yesterday. Back in the saddle. Hard to get comfortable after my recent sojourn.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did a couple of Colombia posts, but you’re a busy guy! I do travel as much as possible, especially during university breaks. I do prefer exotic places. I travel in many configurations … probably mostly with one other person (sometimes husband, sometimes daughter, sometimes sister), occasionally with the whole family, and the remainder alone. I like all three but sometimes really crave the alone ones … and this week in Nicaragua I will be following no one’s plans or schedule but my own! (And I just got upgraded for tomorrow so now I’ll also love the flights!)

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  12. Happy B/day Badfish. Just one year old but already obsessed with snot and poop. Personally, much as I love reading your posts, I could do without hearing any more about snot or poop. Just saying. More photos of lovely young women in thongs would be welcome any time.

    I’d take the train in India any time rather than risk my life on the roads in a bus or a car, but you might well choose to take a faux limo. Just watch out for the cows!

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    • HA! Thanks, Don. And thanks for reading and commenting during this whole year. You guys were my first readers (well, you were the only ones who knew I was blogging). And it’s funny…I just read a comment where someone thanked me for the info on snot because she had been wondering just that morning why her snot was green and was going to look it up online, and then she read my post, and voila!…serendipity. But I get it…snot and poop are a bit juvenile. Some people think it’s interesting but maybe it snot.
      Train in India…good and wise choice.

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  13. What gorgeous pictures, Fish! I love listening to you talk about the sea. AND I love lighthouses! The thong thing throws me though. (How’s that for alliteration!) You say over here someone looks cute in a thong and it’s a whole OTHER ballgame! Glad you’re feeling better, buddy. I don’t need to sign up at the high school for a continuing ed class. I get it right here on your blog! Hugs!

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    • Calen…thanks so much for tolerating my meanderings this past year! Why does the thong thing through you though? What about it throws you? And right…everything you wanted to know about snot or poop that you were afraid to ask!!! Right here! Thanks for the hug!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry, Fish. I’m not getting comments from your blog. The thong thing… Here thongs used to be how we referred to flip-flops (sandals). Now a thong has become a swim suit (well almost a swim suit!) Don’t know when the change in etymology happened, but my poor sister keeps using the words wrong and EVERYONE teases her about it.

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        • What do you mean, you’re not getting comments? Not receiving them, or understanding them?
          I don’t think you can actually use the word “wrong” because thongs are those sandals and those almost bathing suits. But it’s fun to laugh at people!

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          • Not receiving them in my notifications. I have that trouble with Plato’s blog as well as a couple others. Just a glitch in the system. But if you leave a comment to some something I said and I don’t respond it’s because I forgot to check back. {{{Fish}}}

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  14. Badfish you make me smile and you definitely cause my wanderlust meter to blow a gasket with your travel tales. We too may soon enter the phase of having to be more careful with our travel expenses. Some days I look forward to the challenge but I do like those signs at airports with my name.
    This may be a test, or you being funny but I am interested in the duplication of the paragraph with the snot description. An exclamation point on the topic?
    Congrats on your year. As you know I am a very big fan or stalker depending which way you look at it. 🙂

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    • Sue…thanks so much for stalking me during my first year of blogging. You have been such a huge inspiration. Are you guys thinking of retiring, or what? I’m a little sad that traveling light and inexpensively is no longer exciting in my mind. I used to love it. Now, I’m spoiled, and don’t know if I can go back…or like you say, it will be a challenge.
      Not a test, not being funny—some cyber error, don’t know how or why that paragraph got stuck in there twice. Though I did experience some glitches with this post.
      And YAY! one whole year…thanks again. Is Dave jealous of my maps? Don’t tell him I didn’t make them.

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      • What you didn’t make them? Well we can’t all be Dave. 🙂
        I am working very casual and spend the rest of my work time volunteering. Dave still works full time but apparently we are getting to that age when retirement pops into the conversation more and more.
        I am humbled that I provided any inspiration to you Badfish. You being such an amazing writer, photographer and seemingly to have already traveled the planet. Thank you for the kind words and travel on my friend.

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        • Are you kidding…you are inspiration personified. AND you blogged using your dang phone while traveling!! Did I tell you I taught myself how to use my phone as a hot spot and get online with my laptop through the hotspot…? I’m almost a techy.

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          • Oh look at you! Tech expert extraordinaire! Now my question is do you have a data plan with a quadzillion gigabytes? Our data plans are so small I imagine just booting up the laptop would have eaten up the allotted amount.
            Thanks for the very sweet feedback Badfish. Basically we are just mad as cut snakes and love telling stories. 🙂

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          • I know, tech R US. I have hardly any data at home, I only use wi-fi here. I got talked into buying data in India…and then I got to use it! Didn’t even use 1/4 of it though.

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          • What?! Data left unused. Don’t you know there are people starving for data? Ok I will stop already. So awesome you figured that out. Well done !

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  15. Congratulations on your blogging anniversary, Badfish! Some great photos here. Interesting info on snot. I’m always a little aghast when reporting coughing up volumes of stuff and some medical person interrupts to ask what color it is. Ah, well, glad you’re healing and resting at a good beach. I hope you get the hug! In India, mmm, not the train or the bus, man…

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    • HA!! Thanks and thanks for hanging out and commenting. When it comes to snot, I’m always willing to help out with the good information. And so now you know why they ask you what color. But I like it better when it’s clear…or better, when it’s not there at all. Good guess on the transport in India!!

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  16. Congrats on making it to the 365 day mark. I’m only new to your blog BF, but love it when I see your happy little fish face pop into the feeds and open it knowing it is going to brighten my day. From a veteran budget traveller ie. long retired, with only a pension to travel on, my advice is make the most of limo pick ups and keep working. Travel to the next destination in comfort and luxury, sneezing and farting if you must, and grab all the hugs and enlightenment on the way. Safe and happy travels my funny blogging buddy.

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  17. Ah, the world is returning to normalcy No more pounding headaches ( yep, me too) and a Badfish post, with lots of salty chips to boot! But hang on – you said you dont like Vegemite – I thought you wanted to become an honorary Aussie – that just wont do! and Jungle Geraniums Lacquering the Air – either you’ve got a new title for your long-threatened book or — or – or… well what else did you think geraniums did to the air, badfish, i mean, duh… :).. what else? .. well, those dudes doing Traditional Kalaripayattu fighting wouldnt look outa place in a wuxia film over here…. and … yep, we know its a badfish blog post when we have completely irrelevant info segued in about green coloured enzymes.

    I vote for more snot! okay? and more about the waves, loved the description of the sea there….( how’s duncan? did you bring him back some black sand?)

    oh, and happy birthday! shall we bring out the candles? my blog must be a yearish also but – well —
    well done Badfish and his inner good fish

    OH! almost forgot, when you were in Lima airport, did you see the question marks for hands on the clocks??? it was a long time ago, but i swear i saw question marks instead of hands on some peruvian airport somewhere – i mean you cant just invent stuff like that.

    Whoops! Past my word limit! Toodle ooh! Looking forward to the next installment 🙂

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    • Did you really think the info about the green colored enzymes was segued in and irrelevent? Really? THAT was the whole purpose of the post, to carry that very info across in what looked like a post about India.
      I don’t remember seeing a clock with quesstion marks in Lima…could have, but I was frantic and my partner was sick. So…???

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      • Dear Bad F, cant believe its a whole new month and I didnt see your reply to my reply earlier….. and so terribly sorry that i didnt realise that green coloured enzymes was the whole raison d’etre of this post. I must be slipping! Whoops!

        I guess it would have helped if you had have entitled your post Green Coloured Enzymes…. just saying.

        You must be snowed under…. havent heard a peep from you in.. well.. since mid January. That sounds like a whole year away!!

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        • Well, no worries, because I’ve been soooo busy I have barely kept up with comments on my site. Haven’t been to other sites much at all…but am now trying to get back into the swing of it. Blogging is WORK should be my new motto.

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  18. Whoops again! that’s what you get for obeying laws about word counts – forgot to remind you that your hamburger cost the same amount as the meaning to life the universe and everything!
    that must count for something!
    hope you enjoyed it!
    toodle-pip, as the brits used to say. 🙂

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  19. Happy Anniversary!
    I remember being so excited to see my name on a sign at an airport…but had a good laugh at myself when it was spelled wrong!

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  20. 1. Congrats on the Anniversary! One year may not seam like a lot, but 95% of blogs die within 6 months.
    2. You got some sweet people photos. I like the girl with the face tattooed on her arm. I also like the two dudes with sunglasses.
    3. That is funny about the bartender who was given a shirt. The patron probably figured that since he’d just paid $42 for a burger, he might as well give away his shirt too. 42 dollars. WTF. I always say that “being rich ain’t cheap.”
    4. We spent 5 days in Varkala after 60 days in the rest of India. It was pure bliss to chill out and drink overpriced coffee and not deal with the madness of the north.
    5. I am guessing you took the limo, but I’m not sure. Bus would be inconvenient, train should be pretty simple from there, but after 10,000 hours of training you may be burned out.

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    • Is that really true…95% die within six months? Whoa.
      And yeah…the girl with the face tattoo on her arm…what was she thinking? At least it’s on the back of her arm where she doesn’t have to look at it.
      I was in Varkala about five days, too, and during New Years Eve…but I crashed early.

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  21. Oh beach…i miss it dearly, your post makes me wanting to fly to Asia now..if I can be that spontaneous!
    Congratulations and Happy blog anniversary! I hope to read your funny posts in the next coming years!! Keep posting!!

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  22. Congratulations on your first blog anniversary… How much you have achieved in such a short lapse of time!… Well done 🐯 I love the post…. Your stories, the information you provide here, not to mention the great photographs… 🐒
    Sending love and best wishes. Aquileana 🐕

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  23. See what I’m saying? And this journey moves ever forward with greater detail, always captivating. Now I can say, where to begin, as you’ve given us so much to think about, and talk about, and wonder how in the world have I never done all these things?

    I have to say, the time machine reference brought a smile to me. For one, it happens to loom large in the quote quotient here in Serenity (see I told you). But also imagining what it might be like to be in the 21st Century and 500 miles later, end up in the nostalgic 20th Century.

    That drawing, of the face? Is that the other side of the T-shirt? I like it! I love that it was given to Sanjay by the customer. Now he has a story to tell, and by extension so did you!

    So the hamburger was $42. It could mean that it all that spirituality you were hoping to find, was in that simple meal, because everyone knows that 42 is the “answer to the meaning of life, the Universe and everything.” You’ve already passed go and collected a spiritual $200. Just saying.

    I have loved being able to hear the surf at night. So I wonder, given your druthers, which do you prefer? A hotel on a beach, or a rice field?

    You ask:

    If you were to guess—would you think I take a bus, a train, or a faux limo to Varkala?

    By the looks of the map, I suspect 30 miles (don’t know kilometers) north. I figure the trains are inconvenient if they don’t stop directly at either end. A limo might be more money than you want to spend, at this point, having just been miffed at your last driver. So I am thinking bus, but it could be more crowded, and how much do you have packed anyway? It’s a toss up between the bus and limo. Which would have AC? Having just come from the Maldives, I figure, the more people in too close proximity could equal a chance of your still somewhat compromised system, so given all these things. I’m going with the limo. What the hay, you are on vacation, you’re thinking you’re not yet at the point where you’re wondering how much am I limited to… ???

    Question 2:
    Have you had an interesting experience with a taxi or other transport during your travels?

    My most memorable (and I’m talking 19 years ago) we spent our ‘honeymoon’ on Amtrak trains. The second, from Chicago to Texas, we were on what I might wager was an old World War II train. That in itself was a trial – there was a simple curtain – no door – to our compartment. The A/C was full blast all night long, to the point of my wondering if we’d have frost bite at the end of the trip… It was still cold up north. I recall that we were waylaid by a group of people who were having to be bussed to the train – The Andersonites, as we affectionately refer to them… That was more funny to us, for some reason, than it probably was. And somewhere in the wee hours of the morning, we were heading over the bridge into St. Louis and we saw the Arch lit up, and there was a sense of slow motion to the movement of the train. The trip took us 22 hours from NY to IL, and 29 hours from IL to TX. But the 80 degree weather was a welcome thing having come from NY where there was still snow on the ground, in May.

    In my next post, would you prefer I stick with “snot” or revert back to “poop” because honestly, I can do either in India?

    Can’t you do a little of both? Two for the price of one, so to speak? Just saying. 🙂

    Thank you for another thoroughly absorbing and entertaining read!
    Good to see you back.

    Peace Out,

    Fim

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! No the face is not the other side of the t-shirt. BUT YEAH…42 is the right answer to everything, including burgers! No irony lost here.
      Hotel on the beach or in a rice field…man, that is just a very hard question to answer. I think the answer is…well…42.
      Good guess/deduction on the limo!
      Train…sounds like an interesting ride, but cold. I actually rode a train from Chicago through TX into AZ. It was cool, relaxing. Had my own cubicle with a door, though.
      Snot/poop: funny. And funny how some people go along for the ride on this, and some people just want me to quit talking about the stuff!!! You can’t please everyone, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Wow – sorry you had the Maldives flu- and did u body surf??
    Your photos are wonderful as usual – the tattoo art is a sign of the times, eh? And some of the show are timeless – ❤️❤️

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  25. Happy blog-anniversary, Badfish! So you’re a young fish then – no wonder it’s all about poop and snot (although I didn’t know clown fish had that much snot!)
    Love reading about your adventures, and even the simple, boring, daily stuff you somehow manage to make interesting and fascinating! Black beaches are quite weird, I think, when one is used to the gorgeous light coloured sandy beaches that most destinations offer. I recall the first trip to a black sand beach, and thinking how dirty it looked, and unappealing. Must say, your destination does look a lot more exciting, especially the shot of your ‘thong’ 😛

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  26. Congratulations! 101 uni friend!
    At least we are among the 5% survivors.
    I wish I had more time for my Reader, your post has captivated me and now I have to get up and see to the chooks, while you sun yourself on another distant shore!
    I haven’t been to India, do they Donkey rides? Could be a safer bet?
    FYI, You may be interested in a FB video depicting a lucrative trade in amazing artefacts using recycled thongs( the foot ware type, not the skimpy ones )
    Thanks for stopping by my blog, it’s been a great read and good to catch up.
    💚❤️💛💜💙

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  27. Great post! I have not been to India. One of my sisters spent some time there, but not me. Beautiful photos. I particularly liked the one with the traditional fighting.
    I enjoy taking public transportations when I travel. Sure it’s sometimes a little more hassle, but the experience gets so much more authentic…the people you meet, everything you see along the way, difficult to match that.
    Looking forward to your next post!

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  28. There is so much fodder in this post that it would take another one, just to address it. I will stick to a few things that stood out. Somewhere on my blog I talk about ashrams and my honeymoon summer in India. I was there for about two months in monsoon season. We went to several famous ashrams and of course did a variety of meditations. One way you can recapture the rising kundalini, btw, is by twirling, ala the Dervishes in the Sufi tradition. You can do that at home and you will (if you do it right) feel it go right up your spine and hit your topmost chakra — a pleasurable experience, if you care about it.

    I agree with the buy it/snap it rule. I have rued many a missed opportunity everywhere I have traveled all over the world, like the rug in Fez or the lace in Recife or the Vatican Mosaic in Rome, etc. etc. I was better at taking photos than at making smart purchases and as a result I have thousands of unscanned transparencies.

    As for snot. I cannot imagine it anymore and don’t know why you would have it, with all the juice you drink. Clear is what I shoot for and maybe one upside of being a vegan for a long time, who knows. Poor old Bill Clinton is a vegan and he looks very fragile. Wonder if his snot is clear, though.

    I will come back another time and read and comment more, you lucky man, LOL. I need to leave space for more laconic visitors now … 😀

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    • BETH!! You are so fun. And funny. I always thought twirling looked like fun, but I get dizzy and can’t make myself look so graceful as when they do it.
      Let me see if I understand you right: you went on your honeymoon and stayed in ashrams where you had to be celebate?
      I’m thinking of heading to the States this summer mostly to recover my 35mm slides (and maybe visit one of those states that has legalized buds).
      I totally concur on the “clear” snot. Green is just not my color.

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  29. I really enjoyed this adventure, badfish, and all the thoughts and words that went with it. Your photos are fantastic, and I liked a few of the old-time images thrown in too.

    Like

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