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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Dip in the Arabian Sea

We took the last Friday of our time in India and offered people a chance for a little rest and relaxation.  Several of us ventured to the sea while others stayed in Panvel to shop or sleep.   I felt that I would regret the opportunity to swim in the Indian Ocean so in spite of feeling quite tired, I decided to head to the coast.  Just before leaving the women were told that we would not be able to swim in our bathing suits but rather would need to wear longer shorts and a t-shirt.  This did not make me happy. I was doing pretty well with adjusting to the social conventions and modesty requirements but the thought of having to swim in my clothes about put me over the edge.  Even so, we sallied forth hoping that perhaps we might be able to figure something out.
The drive to and from the coast was hairy.  Traffic in India is unlike any I've ever seen so all of our trips in vehicles had some craziness to them, but the road to the coast was narrow and not well-kept and the way in which our van jockeyed for position with the busses, trucks, scooters and rickshaws was a times, a bit much.  I chose to close my eyes and try to get some rest but believe me, the car ride was anything but restful!
We thought we were going to Alibag, a large public beach, but true to every other thing on this trip, plans changed somewhere along the way and we landed at Nagaon.  Upon arrival we sipped tender coconut juice right from the coconut and headed out to beach.   It was deserted so the women felt fine swimming in bathing suits.  My day improved a hundred-fold.The tide was way out.  We probably had to walk at least 50 meters from the shore just to reach water that was deep enough to swim in.  Gentle waves were rolling in and out.   The water was warm but still refreshing.  The water was murky due to the heavy sand content and it was also very salty but it still felt great!  After struggling with dirt, heat and humidity all week long, to have the sea water wash over you was a great treat.  We swam and bobbed and played like little fish.
Nagaon beach is special because the coastline is filled with these towering trees. They are a mix of coconut, betel and suru trees.  So you have jungle like trees on one side and the sea on the other.  The beach stretches out for miles in each direction.  The tide creates beautiful contours in the sand that were quite lovely to look at. 
However, I could've lived without seeing the snake that slithered by.
Eventually we found our way to a beachside "resort" (resort is a term that can be defined in many different ways!) where for about $18.00 each we could rent two rooms in order to shower and change.  We ate a little lunch, hung out in the hammocks, drank some Thums Up cola and braced ourselves for the ride back to Panvel!  
Even though an Indian friend corrected me when I said that I swam in the Indian Ocean, (he said they call it the Arabian Sea not the Indian Ocean), in principle, the Arabian Sea is part of the Indian Ocean so I'm sticking to my story of adding the Indian Ocean to my collection of seas in which I have taken a dip.  Our day on the coast ended up being a delightful break in routine and I remember feeling very peaceful and calm when the day ended.  I am a girl who loves the sand and the sea no matter where in the world I might be.