Goa, a pilgrimage of love, fun, and discovery!
February 18, 2020
2019 was not good to me. Months of illness to start the year, then a broken toe and then my horrific road accident in which the bones of my arm were completely severed. I am all pinned back together now but the period directly after the crash was horrible. The only saving light of 2019 was the notification that a top publishing house was going to publish and promote my book.
Like a mobile phone out of charge I reached Goa with 1% of life charge left in my tired body; it just about got me there. My flights were very delayed and when I reached Goa my bag did not come with me; oh Air India, how I will miss you.
But, like that out of charge phone, I quickly plugged in my charger to my brain and heart and fixed the other end into India.
Quickly I found my body fully charged and I was full of new found energy. My arm began to heal fast and within a week I was able to loose my sling; sun and vitamin D doing its great work.
It was a relief to see my dear friend Geoff, who showed me around beautiful Benaulim village.
“Indians are the Italians of Asia and vice versa. Every man in both countries is a singer when he is happy, and every woman is a dancer when she walks to the shop at the corner. For them, food is the music inside the body and music is the food inside the heart. ‘Amore’ or ‘Pyar’ makes every man a poet, a princess of peasant girl if only for second eyes of man and woman meets”. – Gregory David Roberts
Once I saw the sunset I knew I was back in India; my happy place.
“India is a place where color is doubly bright. Pinks that scald your eyes, blues you could drown in”. – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
I don’t want to write a step by step diary of my journey, I will briefly reflect on each place and give my thoughts of Goa in 2020.
Then, with the use of quotes I will show you its beauty. I will end with a look at Goa’s famous markets, the places where I had my epiphany a few years back that changed my life and made me the hippie I am today.
“Time spent in India has an extraordinary effect on one. It acts as a barrier that makes the rest of the world seem unreal”. – Tahir Shah
I began my journey in Benaulim, its a village in the South of Goa. I loved it straight away, it had a good vibe and a strong positive energy. Geoff introduced me to a lot of people. The People Bar on the beach was the best social place and the manager Nadia was warm and welcoming. She even downloaded her musical play list onto my MP3; its awesome. I loved it.
Ralph, Geoff’s friend, described Benaulim as a retirement home for old hippies, that’s alright with me; I will 100% be back.
“ In some peculiar way, indeed, the rules were now beginning to seem quite logical. It was then I knew that I had been in India long enough”. – Tahir Shah
Palolem was my next stop, I had always been attracted to its pretty beach and the wooden huts you can stay in in the jungle behind the beach.
I loved the accommodation on arrival and the setting was beautiful but the beach was a huge shock; wall to wall sunbeds. The backdrop is breathtaking but the place is totally packed with tourists, its expensive too.
The highlight for me was a boat ride to the surrounding islands. Sorry Palolem, thumbs down.
“In India, you’re taught that there are certain qualities that make you a divine human being.” – Deepak Chopra
“If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.” – Romain Rolland
Then there was Arambol. I have been drawn to this place for years; its basically a hippie heaven. Arambol is a bit dirty and run down but everywhere you look there are hippies, vegan cafes, dope, dancing on the beach, the hippie markets and some wonderful live music every night. I will definitely be coming back here; its my place.
“We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made”. – Albert Einstein
I met this guy called Greig in Arambol on my first day there, we hit it off and experienced the place together; he was great fun. We took a taxi down to the Saturday night market for a change of scenery, it was a fun night.
“ In India, I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it, inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything, but possessed by nothing”. – Apollonius Tyanaeus
This crazy Indian dancing on the beach in Arambol made my day.
“India has two million gods, and worships them all. In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire.” – Mark Twain
“[India is] the One land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.” – Mark Twain
“ If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions, I should point to India”. – Max Muller
My last stop was Anjuna, where many of the Whirlys were coming to party at the Hilltop festival. It got a bit messy and full of drama at times but it was good fun too. I think personally I travel better alone but I’m glad I did it. Anjuna has lost its spark for me though; apart from the odd visit to the Wednesday day market I think my Anjuna days are done, its not my place anymore.
I think this trip to Goa was a turning point for me. It has changed a lot, Indian tourism has grown massively and now Indian tourists seem even more prevalent than the Russian invasion. Which is fine, its their country but it means the vibe has changed; its simply different. It often lacks that hippie vibe now in places and can feel a little like Benidorm at times.
Also another total shock are the beaches. Bad monsoon weather and global warming have caused sea levels to rise dramatically and many of the well known beaches are half the size of what they used to be.
Anjuna is the most noticeable with very little beach left. When the tide is high there is no beach at all.
BUY, SELL, MEET: WHY FLEA MARKETS ARE BUZZING IN GOA!
Based on an article from the Indian Times Newspaper.
“India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of mature mind, understanding spirit and a unifying, pacifying love for all human beings”. – Will Durant
The Saturday night Bazaar
This is more mass market than bespoke, but you will certainly be spoilt for choice if you’re looking to shop for inexpensive clothes, footwear, bags and accessories. There are hundreds of stalls, mostly by people from all over the country, selling a host of items that one would find while street-shopping in popular markets in Mumbai, Delhi or Bengaluru, right here in Goa! If you’re interested in Bollywood songs and Hindi music, the main stage usually has a live act. For the foodies, the food section has a host of Indian delicacies on offer. There are a few artisan desserts shops like geleto and waffles to satiate your sweet tooth.
Anjuna Wednesday Flea Market
The original flea market of Goa that erupted in the 1960’s is nothing like it used to be! It is much bigger now, and one can find everything from Indian weaves and fabrics to Indian tribal handicrafts. But if you walk towards the far end of the market, you’ll be welcomed by a buzzing music scene, with live bands performing rock and reggae at shacks and roadside bars where you could stop for a drink and a quick bite.
If you’re lucky, amid all of the stalls, you will find a few of the shops run by expats selling quality beachwear like kaftans, swimsuits, floxy dresses and caps.
Chahat from Mumbai runs an accessory and jewellery store and tells us “Much of my stuff is made of hemp or macrame work”. Prem Marathe, who runs a clothing store, says, “We have been here for five years and sell linen and cotton outfits, which are a huge hit.” There are shops where you could find leather outfits and shoes as well. There are plenty of shops with musical instruments, drums and ethnic wear from Gujarat and Rajasthan.
“ I noted that people are happy here in India. When I went back home, people had everything in the materialistic sense and were surrounded with abundance, but they were not happy.” – Goldie Hawn
Goa will always have a place in my heart but its time to spread my wings and my horizons. I will always end up in Goa but my plans for next time are my world travels. I intend to take the Trans-Siberian Express train through Russia, Mongolia and China to Vietnam. Then I will travel for months through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Following this I will fly to Nepal before exploring much more of India.
India is a beautiful, powerful and spiritual country and I want to explore it properly. I must do this as travel is in my soul.
Of course my final destination will always be Goa, Especially Benaulim and Arambol. Goa is still a goer.