I hadn’t really expected to like Goa a huge amount, I imagined a very touristy, built up beach resort and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Goa has a really strong Portuguese influence from their occupation and as a result the beautiful white churches and the architecture in Paniji and even the beaches reminded me wonderfully of Brazil. I met up with my friend from Nepal, Andrea, in Anjuna where Lucy from Deep Griha was also staying. We had a little guest house set back from the beach path which led to our favourite restaurant San Francisco on the corner of a long wide beach on which lazy cows slept all day, a few tourists lay sunbathing and a very warm blue ocean came slowly rippling onto the sands. Lianna also turned up in Little Vagator just up the coast so we joined her for a late afternoon swim and watched the most perfect sunset between the palm trees from up the side of the hill behind the beach drinking cocktails! That night actually got a little messy, Lianna had befriended two English guys, Mike and John who were great fun although it was their fault we ended up trying the local paint stripper which may account for why we ended up partially clothed in the very nice pool of their lovely hotel at 2am!
I decided to hire a moped on Tuesday and immediately decided that they were the best things in the world to drive. I went to raise Lianna out of her hangover and after a restorative lunch we headed up the coast through small beach villages, along palm forested hills and up to Mandram, a lovely wide empty beach about 45 minutes north where we stopped for drinks and a afternoon swim. I still can’t get over how wonderfully warm the sea is here! On the way back ominous clouds started to roll over the horizon and the light was fading. I would have been fine had it not been for the collapsed electricity wire across the road which was being held up by a policeman with a plastic truncheon. I stopped then edged slowly forward under the held up end, the road was wet and the wheel slid slightly, I panicked worried we would hit the wire and hit the brakes but sadly pulled the brake on the accleration handle and in pulling down pulled the acclerration too. We skidded and Lianna hopped off the back and the moped fell on top of me. Nice. Right in front of the policeman aswell. Luckily Lianna was fine and apart from 10-year-old style grazing on my elbow and knee I was fine. Moped 1. Claire 0. We were fine after that and ditched the moped and got a motortaxi to the beach bar to meet the others, Ayesha and Sarah were also in Anjuna by now aswell!
Wednesday morning Andrea and I took the moped down to Paniji, an hour drive south and explored the Portuguese churches and buildings, so like so many places in Brazil, and kept seeing these gigantic papier mache torsos on bamboo scaffolding everywhere through the town. It turned out they were devils that are burnt at midnight to herald in Divali! In the afternoon we all went down to the famous Wednesday market at the bottom of Anjuna, it was fairly huge but I guess I’ve just been travelling too long as I didn’t really see anything I hadn’t seen before, allbeit on a much smaller scale. Plus being a tourist trap the sellers started at totally ridiculous prices, it almost wasn’t worth bartering! That evening there was the mother of all thunderstorms, lashing rain, forked lightening which was a little too close for comfort and the most deafening thunder. Once the lightening had journeyed a little further away and the rain died down we fled to the nearest beach restaurant for food. We could still see streaks of lightening far out at sea briefly lighting up the whole beach area. Impressive but a little unsettling.
On Thursday Andrea and I headed down to the beach at Palolem in South Goa which was lovely. The beach is a huge crescent fringed with thick groves of palm trees, in between which tiny villages of basic beach huts are built every season. We found ourselves one such wee hut and had two days of doing very little but reading, eating lovely Goan food (prawn curry mmmmm!), going on a mini boat trip, watching the sunset, buying embroidered bags and scarves in the market and chatting. I think because the season is not in full swing Goa was not too busy and just seemed very unobtrusive and chilled. Although I was looking forward to getting ‘home’ to Pune it was definitely a wrench to leave.