Monday, 22 March 2010

Goa, Goa, Gone.....

I was 19 the first time I went to Goa. It was a paradise away from paradise then: flaxen-haired travellers stretched out under the arched palms, their skinny, brown bodies adorned with exotic belts of silver from Rajasthan, strings of turquoise beads and hefty bracelets from Nepal. We sat and stared at the unbroken horizon from up-all-night-party sunrise to the bom-shanker of the sunset chillum, waiting for the nuclear flash that would herald the end of the rest of the world as we knew it, or so we believed if Maggie had her way....oh hippy daze.....Now, beer-swilling blokes in Chelsea shirts discuss the low cost of dental work in Margao and restaurant sound systems compete for ear-time. With the rise of low cost airfares and the ubiquitous package tour, exotic travel is no longer quixotic. Where once we lived in palm-leaf huts, dined on bargiis, dhal and super-sweet chai, now it's all cold beers, char-grilled prawns and G & Ts, sun-loungers and boutique hotels. But the sun does still set right there on that unbroken horizon, nuclear bombs are out and instead we fear WMDs and IEDs. The times they certainly are a changing.

We arrived in Margao several hours late, our train having travelled at little more than a brisk walking pace for most of the journey. My mother was staying at the delightful Hotel Oceanic, all white-washed walls and bougainvillea, about 15 minutes walk from the sea, and I was billeted at the friend's, a tad closer to the shore. After 2 weeks travelling we were looking forward to a little R & R and perhaps a large G & T. Not all changes are 1980 I'd stayed in Chapora village, in the north, and my guilty pleasure was to sneak off to Scarlet's Juice Bar where they not only had electricity but also the only blender in the hood and had taken the radical step of throwing all manner of fruity concoctions, and sometimes even yogurt, into the same mix. Remember, the Smoothy was yet to be invented so this was pretty heady stuff.....

My friend lives in an ex-pat enclave known locally as Beachenders and for good reason. Think small Welsh village with twitching palm leaves instead of net curtains, just sunshine and you've got the idea. Everybody knows everything about everyone else. And believe me they've all got stories. And babies. It's yummy mummys by the sea. It's also party central. The 'local tourists', as the real locals call them, run restaurants and bars, organise yoga holidays, design beachwear and sell jewellery, they work hard and they play hard. As monsoon approaches and the temperature goes up the 'season', as the period from November to March is known, comes to an end. And things start to unravel. Everything and everyone literally gets fried. My friend has not long split up, for the second time, from her boyfriend and the 'I'm fine with it' facade was beginning to slip. I once lived with this woman in America, my year of living dangerously, so know her pretty well, and frankly I should have seen it coming. She was definitely, how shall I put it? Not feeling her best.

However, I did yoga classes high on a hill with a 360 degree view of sea, beach, palm-trees and sea...... not too shabby. Had the most amazing Ayuvedic massages from the small but perfectly formed chap who has the most incredibly healing hands and appears to be able to see inside my soul.....well that's how it feels! Our little party re-grouped for a trip to the Saturday produce market where we bought peppercorns and vanilla. We ate the delicious fish, drank the cold beer and watched that sunset, again and again. And it was good. And Mum said she'd loved it all so mission accomplished.

Back in Blighty Spring hadn't quite sprung. I had thought we'd be greeted by budding trees and blooming Daffs, but hay, the sun is sort of shinning today and the clocks have gone forward so fingers crossed.....

Top Tip:, yellow and in the shops now!!


  1. What a wonderful trip you had. The best trips fill our head with happy memories for years to come and this must certainly be the case for you.

    You have sunshine over there on the mainland? Ooh, not here I'm afraid - it is so grey and so damp that I needed this virtual journey to those shores so far far away. :)

  2. You are putting so much thought into these posts. Thank you for taking us on a wonderful trip.

  3. Hi there
    Just wanted to say thank you for popping by. I am trawling through your posts with interest they make great reading and do bring thoughts of sunshine, good food and G and Ts ( although mines a whisky and soda nowadays.
    Regards Jenny x

  4. I was 22 the first time I went to Israel......
    glad you found my Blog ! I shall read more of yours ...

  5. I now know I have done nothing with my life!!!! look forward to the next post, Karen x