We were looking forward to another overnight bus to Goa… truly looking forward to it. Our previous trip was a positive one but we should have stopped while we were ahead. I am not one to rant, but this bus was a total shit hole. Let me give you a list: smelly inside, loud from the roads outside, old worn parts, windows that don’t open or close, exhaust coming in, cockroaches climbing in and out of the wall right beside me, rusty bolts sticking out where you rest your head, broken seats and arm rests, and the list goes on and on. Luckily, we made it through the night with the use of some earphones, sarongs wrapped around our heads as cushioning and positive spirits. Not only was the bus crap, we had no idea where we were going, just that the place was called Mangalore and it was our next pit-stop trying to reach Kerala.
Now, not only was the bus and absolute disaster, but we had also been warned about the journey in a round-a-bout way by a woman we met at the market the day before. After telling her where we were from and where we were going she told us a short story. It went like this: Oh, Mangalore. I was engaged to a lovely man once who lived in Mangalore. My mother went down to Mangalore on bus to meet the groom and family and to finalize the union. When she got back she said the marriage was off because no daughter of hers would ever be taking the bus trip from Goa to Mangalore, never ever. She was scared out of her wits and thought her daughter would surely die.
Well, that is what we were up against and after seeing the bus, I assumed all hope was lost. The ride was definitely as bad as the woman made it out to be, but there was one saving grace. We stopped at a small town for a bathroom break and there just happened to be a holiday celebration going on. There were all of these art pieces made of colorful rice outside of small shops and houses that were beautiful and festive. Walking around was definitely a mood lifter and we almost hastily decided to bag the trip and just stay there for the night since, it was so terrible on the bus, but decided against it. In the long run, it would have been much harder. But the pit-stop was truly a diamond in the rough.
Luckily, we arrived in one piece and no thanks to our driver) at four in the morning. It was just as crazy as the old woman’s trip was, and we are fortunate to make it without toppling over the side of the road. Overall, experiences like this can only make us stronger, right?
With wobbly knees and a fuzzy head, we stepped out of the bus, got our bearings and stepped inside a friendly man’s auto-rickshaw. He took us to a great little cheap hostel that rents rooms by the hour. This may sound seedy, but for travelers, it actually means that you can only pay for the 24 hours you are there. For example, if you are there, say from 4 am to 4 pm like we were going to be, you only pay for one day, not the night before and the night after like typical hotels. It had hot water and was close to the train station so it was fine by me.
We slept another few hours in a bed, for the first time in days, and then got up and headed out to the train station. By now, this was getting quite tiring, but we had no other choice, we had to get to Kerala. When we got there they sent us away again without tickets and said to come 30 minutes before the train left at 5:00 in the morning to get tickets and that this was the only way. We had nothing to do but trust them, so we turned around and headed out to see what Mangalore had to offer.
First, we had some incredible south indian food at a local restaurant. What was funny though, about our situation, was that the packed dining area for locals was not where we ate, the manager sat us in a dark, small, quiet, air-conditioned family room and we were one of two tables. No matter, we let him do what he wanted. If he wanted to keep the riff-raff out of his dining room, so be it. (He actually probably thought he was being nice, but it was just strange.)
After that, we headed out to the mall to go shopping. A little spree was in order. There is not much shopping in Dar and what is there is expensive, so we bought a couple of places out of exciting things like work pants, under shirts and socks. For not really shopping in months, it was not the most exciting shopping trip, but it served its purpose.
Then back to the strange restaurant for dinner and back to the hotel for a rest before heading to the train station. Everything did work out as planned at the train station and before we knew it, it was 5:30 am and we were heading to meet our friends family in Kerala.
Nothing much was too eventful or important to note about Mangalore except maybe that the traffic police wore white cowboy hats… no kidding. I really wish I got a photo.