Traveling on your own is nothing short of liberating as it provides a level of freedom group trips inherently don’t. Not that I can’t appreciate when the family and I are on an exciting escapade, I totally do. But ever since my very first backpacking adventure across western and southern Europe, way back in 1983, I’ve just loved heading out in the world on my lonesome.
A solo trip doesn’t necessarily have to be as far as India (where these words are being typed), though a bit of distance from home usually makes for more interesting experiences.
In addition to having plenty of time to reflect on life and relish in the temporary abandonment of daily chores, obligations and routines, being on your own means inviting a wealth of opportunities to see how other humans live their lives and to cross paths and maybe even interact with locals – as well as meet other travelers.
I met this gentle buffalo herder the other day on a pasture above the village of Agonda in southern Goa. It was laundry day for me and I was wearing just about the only clean clothes I had left; a white pair of shorts and a white t-shirt. It would be a gross understatement to say I stood out in the lush green environment. I made several careful attempts to get close to the heard, but each time I got within a few feet, they skedaddled.
Sedatja, my trusted rickshaw driver for two years straight now, translated the herders explanation for why the buffalo kept running away from me;
“They are very, very frightened of white color”.
Later that day, walking on my own along a twisty road that eventually leads to the main beach road and still wearing my “whites”, I came across three full-grown male buffalos with really impressive horns. They were quietly munching away in an overgrown garden at the front end of an abandoned house.
Once one of them got a glimpse of me in my shining armor, the other two looked up and within a second or two, all three were staring in disbelief, as if they’d seen the Grim Reaper and envision that I was coming to take them to buffalo purgatory.
As soon as the small herd found their footing (hoofing?), the mighty beasts jolted and then galloped towards the thicket towards the backend of the garden.
Interestingly, I didn’t get similar reactions from any of the many cows I met along the road that day. Maybe cows aren’t as superstitious. After all, they are sacred.
I’ll be heading out again today, wearing green shorts and a pink tee. We’ll see how that plays out among the Agonda buffalo population.