Our Taxi driver “John” tells us that the road we are travelling on has only been laid for a grand total of three months. ‘It does look new’ I thought to myself. It also looks like it’s been laid by someone who has never seen an actual road before and therefore has no idea what a road is supposed to look like. Civil engineering may not be one of the things that Goa is well known for but it does at least look safe… until it rains… then, it’s all fucked.
This Goan road is my friend and foe. It’s all here, from Tandoori’d tourists to Portuguese dentists specialising in implants, Biker bars which only sell chai, sandal and sari sellers that speak in a perfect cockney english. Need an ATM? Somewhere. Need to buy a single boiled egg and a litre of petrol in a plastic bottle? Definitely. Fortunately, if you need to rent a scooter where the tachometer tells as many lies as the roadside eggs then this is your spot.
Myself and George decided to drop off the “proper bike”, that was rented a couple of days earlier, and collect the scooter, as this “new” machine was half the price, great. More money is then exchanged, now we are good to go. Not being content with having all the flying ants in Goa mobbing us in a bar across the street, we decided to “burn” down the road to find somewhere else to grab a beer. For what it’s worth, it is a lovely road to ride on, this does depend on what you are riding, of course.
A little way down ‘The Leela Road’ we pull off to a toilet paper laden lane that leads to a beach with such imaginatively titled bars as The Beach Hut, The Beach Shack, The Beach Bar, basically anything associated with the beach really. Beachy Mc Beach Bar wasn’t there yet but, with a little more time, I’m sure someone will christen their bar/diner with this. I’ll claim royalties, obviously.
After a few promises to the sari sellers, we stop at ‘The Beach Hut’ and get a couple of beers in and discuss the merits and beauty of Land Rovers. You might not think they’re are beautiful, but no-one was asking you anyway. My main man Francis Rodrigues dishes out a free Pratha, which is readily available everywhere and every eatery has its own different take on this dish. It’s simply a stuffed Naan. Francis sets us up with a well spiced, vegetable beauty, which only lasts about 45 seconds, on the table.
The next thing to last only 45 seconds, as we pull out of ‘Bog-Roll Boulevard’, was our trusty beast of a Honda. It made a rather unique flapping sound. The arse quite literally fell out of the back of the scooter. We weren’t going any where. Trying to figure out what had gone wrong, I pulled the throttle back, I could hear the sound of the unbridled 100cc, 4-stroke but the horses weren’t leaving the gates for some reason. What the actual fuck?! Was it sabotage by one of sandal sellers to keep us near? Maybe. What do we do now?
“We’ve still got two beers in the bag” George exclaimed.
“Yes, yes we fucking do” I replied with obvious joy.
A quick phone call to the ‘egg seller’, whilst enjoying a roadside beer, and our man turns up with the “Mechanic”. He looked like the guy that might of laid the road in the first place.
These guys are good though, you could just tell. The fuel is checked by phone light, some oil is probingly licked and diagnosed, the throttle pulled a few times and hey presto, we have a prognosis. Result.
The drive belt has snapped. So this was the sound of 30 pairs of flip-flops chasing us down the road that we’d heard as we left as we left our new favourite bar and nothing to do with the meagre tip we had left behind. The ‘egg man’ assures us that he can fetch a “new bike” and with this in mind, he and his “mechanic” relieve us of our wheels.
They position both scooters side by side facing up the road towards town and effortlessly turn themselves into an ‘on-road catamaran’. Egg man holds on to the mechanic, who is on the dead scooter and pushes him along at a fair old speed, and off they ride into the night whilst my self and George have a road beer and a ciggie. A few minutes later a car pulls up and offers us a lift, which we decline. I’m always grateful to anyone who’s stops to help out what might seem like stranded people in the middle of nowhere and i’m buoyed by the altruistic spirit of this stranger. Maybe he sees this a lot, maybe we were going to get really cosy with his goat or his daughter, I don’t know but I was happy about the gesture wither way.
The “egg man” returns, with his buddy engineer and a new set of wheels. The speedometer on this thing also doesn’t seem to want to tell much in the way of truth but who cares, we’re on the road again. As it turns out we didn’t need to travel far to get back to where we were staying. We head back to our rooms and our wives and partners, respectively.
I try to regale the ‘better half’ with what we have just had to deal with. Her response? “Why the fuck did it take four hours?” Erm… “life on the open road?” A curt “fuck you” is what i receive.