Well, what can I say other than Tim and I experienced a little slice of paradise coming here?!! We had to endure a challenge en route however...
We flew from Jaipur to Goa, enjoying the most delicious plane meal we had ever had during the 2 hour flight. Sweet curry with coriander and curd, and almond chocolate gooey brownies for pudding. Mmmmm!
Our first stop was Panaji, Goa's capital. We wanted to explore the area because it is unique in India, with an old quarter full of narrow streets lined with picturesque Portuguese colonial houses painted in a palette of pastel colours. However, we were unable to find somewhere where the pillows were not stained brown, or that we could afford, so ended up taking a hotel the taxi driver recommended. Big mistake as it was like the scene of a trashy teen American horror film, where guests mysteriously disappear one by one! We decided to leave the crack den in favour of somewhere simple but safe, and get outta there ASAP the next day!!
We hooked up with our friend Chloe from England, and her friends Ellie and Laura, and shared a taxi down to Agonda in the South of Goa. The drive was beautiful as we drove through windy streets though lush countryside, with forests of coconut palms contrasting with the red of the sandstone and the clear blue skies. We then arrived at Dersy Beach Resort, a family run beach-side hotel with its own palm tree garden on the beach (the garden has a bamboo fence to stop cows roaming into it and eating the coconuts which apparently make them very sick!!).
The beach was pure paradise. There was barely a soul to be seen along the vast stretch of golden sand, and the water was as warm as bath water. The beach was fringed with coconut palms and the occasional banana tree, and bay was nestled among lush green hills of tropical forests. It hardly felt real as I took my first stroll onto the sand (which was incidentally too hot to stand on in the intense heat of the day!). We spent a happy 5 days lounging around on the beach, making difficult choices such as whether to go for a swim in the sea, eat the delicious food at the hotel, have a nap, read, write my diary or go for a sunset stroll. Tim and I realized that for the first time in weeks, we were actually unwinding, after the intensity of North India and the preceeding weeks of preparing for our travels/passing driving tests etc.
Goa is known as a bit of a hippy and party enclave, with a mixture of hippies who have not left the area since their first mushroom trip here 20 years ago, and techno-loving party animals who want to dance till dawn. We were well away from all that scene however, with the only people we bumped into on the beach being local Indians going for an evening stroll.
We went on an early morning dolphin watch with a local fisherman, and had several sightings of at least 2 dolphins fishing nearby. We were unable to get close to them however, and Ellie and I were ready to leap into the water to see if they were up for playing, but were told it was too choppy. A taster for a dolphin swim somewhere else... It was great to see the beautiful coastline from the sea, and very special to see dolphins in the wild.
When we fancied going out, there was a little town nearby with seafood restaurants on the beach, bars and shops. Tim and I indulged in a huge lobster for supper one day, with a plate of squid, king prawns, tuna and kingfish. The food was so delicious that we returned the next night and I had Tandoori squid. Heaven!! How lovely to be eating our way around the world, as another layer to our trip!