A Goan Retreat

Our 15 hour train ride from Mumbai to Goa was great, but then it was late. We arrived to our destination very late at night, tired and looking desperately for a place to sleep. I open my travel Bible (Lonely Planet) and spot a place on the beach for pretty cheap. A rickshaw gives us a ride and stops, pointing us at the sand: ”Walk, walk”. We paid him the 150RPS, put on our packs and start to walk. The darkness hides the surroundings and the waves secretly sing along our sides. After 5 minutes of sandy massages under our tired feet, we arrive to our cocohut in Benaulim Beach, Goa.

A peacefull sound of morning transitions from my dreams to awakening. The melody of the waves washing on the shore makes my eyes open to a new day. I open the door of my hut and admire the scenic view that is sitting in front of me. Finally, the beach and its sea! The mode vacation is here. A time for relaxation, beaching, swimming, tanning, snacking on some fresh food from the sea, sipping on tropical drinks, or simply, doing nothing. After travelling for a month riding local buses, running after trains, being jammed in big city traffic and holding on to our life while crossing streets, it is nice to finally be able to let go of any possible stress, and rest.

Goa nests on the West side of India, along the Arabian Sea. The sandy beaches, cocohut culture and laidbackness of its residents make this state a perfect destination for everyone. A mix of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Catholism are found here, along with a Portuguese colonial architecture that reflects a rich history. Purple, orange, green apple, yellow and bright blue are among the colours of many of the houses. Lines of palm trees hug the beaches and the waters of the sea are warm and inviting for a good swim. In the mornings, fishermen arrive on the beach with their humungous net full of small fish, crabs and sea snakes (yes, 4 foot sea snakes). The women fill their baskets with the creatures and carry them on their head to where they will be driedand then sold at the market. My eyes are amazed by this morning work and this team effort, both males and females putting force and energy in every detail.

An other way to work towards this relaxation time, is to get involved in some yoga. I booked a place in a yoga retreat and dedicated my mornings and afternoons to meditation, yoga and really good food. At Ashiyana Yoga, in Mandrem Beach, they offer you accommodation in a Mango Tree House, 2 yoga classes a day and buffet twice a day (which was some of the best vegeterian food I’ve ever tasted). A retreat consisting in draining bad energy, rejuvanating mind and body and purifying soul.

After these relaxing days at the retreat, we make our way back down to Benaulim where we enjoy some drinks with some canadian tourists to celebrate Halloween. Our customes evolve question marks on the other guests, being the only one dressed up for this occasion.

After a couple days of chilling and simply doing nothing, we decide to migrate South and explore an other area. So we make our way to Palolem Beach where we spend  a few days enjoying the tropical sun. One morning, we meet with a fisherman and his son in their 21 foot wood outrigger. We cruise along some islands and explore the surroundings. When suddendly, our captain spots a dolphin and starts signing of joy and excitement! ”Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb”! There it is, this beautiful aquatic creature gently caressing the surface of the water. And an other one! And more! And a dozens! They are everywhere! 50, maybe a 100! ”You lucky my friends, you so lucky”! This is amazing! With a beating heart and shaking hands, we leave the fear in the boat and let our excitement jump in the water. I am so damned scared, but it is a great feeling. These wilddolphins are not very curious about us, they are more preoccupied by their search for breakfast. But the sensation of swimming if the middle of a large pod, in the open Arabian Sea under the light of the sunrise… wow, a 5$ well spent indeed!

We spend our last days in Goa watching the kids getting ready for their annual festival. Diwali is a hindu event celebrating the festival of lights, but everyone is welcomed to participate. People exchange gifts, sweet treats and light candles and fireworks to guide Lord Rama home from exile. The houses are cleaned and believers are dressed well, waiting for Lord Leksha (Goddess of Wealth), to come visit their house and hopefully brings good luck (money). Our last night in our hut in Panolem is noisy and very explosive. We yawn to the next day and pack our bags to Kerala.


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