My darling flatmate Jena has just referred to me as a douchebag, for not having updated in....3 months. On this occasion, I'd have to agree with her, but would perhaps not use such heavy-handed words. Or if I did use such words, I'd layer them with adjectives like 'busy', 'flying wayyyyy too much' or simply 'vacant-minded', 'lazy', or even 'dormant'.
It's been a rather busy 2 and a bit months since I've last written and I must cast my mind back over the latest antics and wade through the fog and haze that inhabits my brain these days as I approach 4.5 years of flying.
Yes, I know, it's an awfully long time to subject oneself to the life of living out of a suitcase, sleeping on aircrafts, eating aircraft food, engaging in inane, boring crew-conversation, changing time zones more frequently than I wash my hair, sleeping in strange beds, wondering not what hotel I'm in when I wake up, but what COUNTRY, speaking different languages, hopelessly attempting to treat my lactose and gluten intolerant stomach to some kind of a normal diet and being so jetlagged you actually fall asleep for a few seconds while mid-conversation over pub-grub in London with a mate you've not seen in 2 years, and mumbling whatever rubbish your brain scrambled to provide you with when you snapped out of it - sorry Luke!
For the girl who moved overseas and out of home all in one step...and only thought she'd be away for 1 year at the most - it's certainly been an adventure. That's putting it mildly.
So, after I returned home from a lovely, hot Christmas holiday with my family, it was straight into some crazy rostering - topping 120 hours in one month and being rather incapable of coherent speech or proper sleeping patterns. Like a wayward rubber band flung wayyyy too far, I've hit the shores of London (multiple times!), Tunis, New York, Lagos, Houston, Bangkok, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland. Add to the mixture a few local flights and it makes for a very busy Lauren!
This month looks truly hideous with the only good things being a Sydney trip that I'm trying to swap for a Houston to buy 5 bottles of my new favourite red wine, and a lovely trip to Malta. The rest is Accra (ok for sunbaking) and 5 dreadful nighttime, joint-rest turnarounds. Usually saved for the naughtiest of crew, I've been slammed with a 6 day hell-tour and wonder how I'll manage to stay awake for all of them. Must drink coffee, must drink coffee, must drink coffee!
Now onto my current location - GOA!!
Jena and I decided not to join our old flatmate Ashleigh and her boyfriend on their trip to LA because subload staff travel to the other side of the world for 4 days was not a good idea. Ash came to stay with us on her way over and considering it took her 3 days to get out of Dubai on an LA flight with an old staff ticket, we're kinda glad we opted for a firm, yet still discounted ticket to Bombay and connected with a domestic carrier to Goa to sit on the beach and drink super cheap Kingfisher beer for a week.
Wondering how awful the aircraft would smell on the flight to Bombay, how delayed it would be due to the incorrect cabin-loading of human-sized baggage, what kind of sloppy vegetarian food I'd be forced to eat or which jingly movies we'd be tortured with on the unchangeable movie sets showing on the telly, we were pleasantly surprised with only a minor delay, not too much cabin stink, a relatively ok-to-digest runny potato and lentil stew and the ever-pleasant ICE system, with a whole stack of new movies to watch...all on a 2 hour and 15 minute flight! I promptly fell asleep on my own shoulder, hurt my neck and was awoken by the wafting smell of curry.
Landing in Bombay wasn't as disastrous as we'd imagined - spying the slums at the end of the runway and sniffing cautiously as the air as we disembarked, our nostrils inhaled a funny musty, old air-conditioning smell, full of potential for Legionnaires Disease and that stale tea smell that most airports in India and Bangladesh seem to have. Customs was a breeze, there was a free, well organised bus to the domestic terminal and then a fuss-free hour-long flight to Goa after a 2 hour transit. FYI - Jet Airways serve way better curry than Emirates do. Not surprising, with India being the home of curry, but with the amount of Indians in Dubai, we thought we'd be up there in terms of food. Not so.
After chasing our baggage around the baggage hall on two rather crazy carousels, we emerged into 31 degree heat to find our driver with Jena's name on a placard and a big, white smile on his face when we waved to him. He took us on a hazardous walk to the car, dodging in between cars and buses and over a rocky bridge with our suitcases in his hands, while we tottered behind, digging in our bags for sunglasses and trying not to get run over. Hoping the little car would have air-con, we were disappointed to find out it didn't, but rather enjoyed having the windows down for the drive. There's something about a really hot day that is far more pleasant and bearable while on holidays!!
Organised by the place we're staying at, the Village Guest House, he drove like a rally driver on speed. We roared around corners, tooted at other cars we were anywhere near and generally risked our lives at every bend in the road by doing completely illegal, inside lane overtaking on blind corners. We were shrieking in the backseat, covering our eyes and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. The occasional waft of dirty, decaying fish as we passed by the slums and the burning smell of rubber/trees/grass/rubbish or whatever was in the piles we flew by was not so pleasant. Indians seem to love burning stuff - at every corner there was something on fire.
Finally we turned up to the Guest House and I was rather bemused to have my extended hand completely ignored when both our hosts came out and asked for Jena by name. I happened to be closer to both of them and pointed over my shoulder at Jena as I introduced myself and reached out to shake hands...and was totally shut down. Our room is a nice airy room, complete with a rock hard mattress, jet-powered air-con and free wireless. Can't really argue with that can you? We woke up in the middle of the night with sore hips from the mattress and feeling almost frozen solid from the lack of blankets - we covered ourselves with sarongs and beach towels and then Jena amazingly found a blanket in the cupboard in the morning - how we missed it is anyone's guess.
Provided with a welcome beer by our hosts, we sat on the balcony and felt a little drunk after 1 beer in the middle of the afternoon, full of curry and desperately wanting both sleep and a trip to the beach. Guided by the man of the house to the beach, we navigated rocky, gutterless roads, dodged cars and avoided packs of wild boars (not joking!) and finally stumbled out onto the sand to find a million people enjoying the late afternoon sun. There are sprawling bars and restaurants everywhere, a smattering of boats and a rather eclectic collection of wildlife that can be best illustrated with pictures only.
We were on the beach for no more than half an hour when we witnessed a bull mount a cow, innumerable dirty, dreadlocked, drug-f***ed hippies in varying stages of drug-induced hazes, a group of half naked monks wading in the surf and multicoloured mangy dogs covered in dye from Holi festival... Surreal, much?!
We hope you're as amused as we were by the sights below: