Goa was the first destination that made me realise my penchant for slow travel. On my second trip, I was privy to the dying hippie culture in 2002. We had stealthily found out the whereabouts of a rave party and were in for a culture shock for days to come. It was as Bob Marley said ‘Free Love.’
The Goa fascination had begun. It was an annual ritual that lasted till 2009 or 2010. Goa had changed and wave after wave of commercialisation made it redundant to visit in high season. The beaches weren’t as tranquil and it didn’t seem like a tropical paradise any more.
I had finally made my way back to Jaipur in the sizzling hot weather after exploring the cool climes of Kumaon for two months. The long train journey on the Ajmer-Ernakulam Express which crossed umpteen states fascinated me. How would it be to travel for almost 1500 kilometres in sleeper class and have story filled conversations with people from various parts of India. I was sold and almost twenty-eight hours later had arrived in Margao. The landscape on the train as it crossed from the cloudless desert to dark clouds was enthralling.
Top 5 Goan monsoon experiences
Varieties of breads at Mapusa Market : The aroma wafting from the old ovens in Mapusa Market while I scurried for cover with the rain belting down is an experience I will remember. The locals laughed while I went mad buying the many varieties of breads, pao, cakes to savour with wine on evenings when the rain was my friend.
Wood fire pizzas at Saraya : I had read Shivya’s instagram post from just a week ago and absolutely had to find this slice of heaven. In the quaint and prosperous neighbourhood of Sangolda lies this art café. The rooms are all very simple and have a tree growing in each of them. I ended up staying here and nearly volunteered to learn the art of making perfect pizzas.
Getting drenched on the trek to Dudhsagar Waterfalls : The road to these humongous milky waterfalls was closed due to the overflowing river and the adventurer in me had a crazy time walking along the periphery of the train track. It started raining midway on the 13 kilometre walk and I merrily danced and like the local kids took off my tee-shirt and let myself free to the rain. It loved me back.
Playing football with local kids on empty beaches : I couldn’t believe my eyes at the sight of Palolem beach. A place full of crowds as far as I had known, had hardly any souls around it. There was a stray fisherman or two either going into or coming back from the swollen tides of the sea. And raucous kids playing football. No doubt it is a religion in Goa when you have the entire beach to yourself.
River baths & Goan food : Leave the beaches, towns and whatever names of villages that you have heard of and go into the hinterlands to see lush green countryside uncluttered by commercialisation. Stay at a local homestay near the river and get treated to some delicious thalis of freshly made Goan food. I jumped for joy when the homestay owner climbed on trees to get me fresh tender coconuts with the sweetest water. Morning walks are made of making your way to the river and having serene long baths in the midst of nature.