Chapter 11 The One With The Banyan Tree

So today we woke up slowly still feeling sleepy after yesterday’s amazing evening! After a bit of brekkie, Simone, leonie, Sara and I took a cab up to arambol or in their lovely  Mancunian accents “Arum-buull”. We arrived having coincidentally booked the same hostel at the shabby but homely happy panda hostel and dumped our bags before a trip pretty much straight out to the beach! Our taxi driver as usual had no clue where any hostels were so stopped every few minutes to ask for directions – something we were coming very accustomed to!
Our walk to the beach took us through Glastonbury street, named after the hippies that frequent it! Already this was much lovelier and livelier than anjuna so Sara and I were gutted we had only one night! We reached the beach after walking through rows and rows of stalls of classic tourist hippie collections, spices, crystals and beautiful clothes – but on a budget I didn’t look too long!

We followed the beach to a cliff side and took a little pathway that lead us to a further beach cove and “sweet lake” which was truly paradise! Clear water, palm trees and relaxing with my book on global maternal health – I was in heaven! After a swim in the lake and a ridiculous human pyramid gymnastics water show by some Indian ‘lads’ we decided to stroll into the forest in search of baba – a spiritual forest dwelling guru. The forest was amazing – empty of people but completely alive with insects and the sound of the little river running into sweet lake. Our sweaty walk finally lead us to the famed Banyan tree where Baba was said to live – it was gorgeous like a huge collection of vines spreading out from the ground and above our heads pretty much as far as we could see, in its branches were tied pieces of fabric and strng from travellers before us and below it figures of deities, flowers and a fire pit.
Without speaking we joined the meditative and silent travellers seated around the empty fire pit and sat absorbing the beautiful surroundings. Suddenly however a gruff Dutch accent appeared from behind us belonging to a waif like man with a blonde / grey beard, bare chest and feet and linen trousers. Ranting about pollution in the forest this utterly crazed figure was definitely Baba (but as we found out not the actual baba as he was in prison for a short while during the elections to provide a kind of example of bad behaviour as he was famed for getting high and drunk with tourists….) Instead this was some sort of heyday hippie who had taken it upon himself to fill in and apparently as his rant continued had taken this as a chance to preach his misogynistic and pretty bigoted views to unsuspecting tourists. Not the open minded living guru we had been told about! As he began to light some dry dung on fire and became increasingly animated and aggressive we took our cue to leave!

Back on the beach we followed the crowds as the sun set to a drumming circle that happened as a kind of impromptu jam session every night. Sara and I watched as people began to fill the circle dancing and had to join so with the girls watching our bags just let loose joining the hippies in an ecstatic dance under the stars until we were too tired and sweaty to continue! Feeling a little peckish we decided to head to a place called the Source where we were told hosted more live music. When we arrived it was incredible and much more than the chilled bar I had expected. We entered the most magical woven walled space where a huge wooden floor surrounded another beautiful Banyan tree with the branches above acting as a kind of roof allowing the clearest and starriest sky yet to peak through. We ate the most gorgeous vegan/organic rice dishes and sat listening to this beautiful ethereal music play in the background. Soon as the space filled, still roomy with 150 or so hippies sat cross legged in front, the band began this incredible haunting set and it was amazing. So relaxing but invigorating that when it finished we were definitely ready for bed and strolled back to our hostel.

A

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