The past year hasn’t been kind. Ups and downs -- the downs outscoring the ups. Made some decisions, I regretted even before the consequences came to surface. The stress and the anxiety of it made my days very difficult to get by.
When my boy friend offered Goa, I decided to take it up.
We reached Madgaon station at 8 pm. Our cabbie wasn’t very happy - our obscure destination in South Goa made him wonder about us. He whined and bemoaned and finally lost all cool, when we hit the jungle tracks which lead to our heavenly dwelling on Cola beach.
The access road to Cola Beach is somewhat tedious, dangerous and in the dark even more ominous. Our driver finally abandoned us in the middle of nowhere and turned back. He swore at the resort people, who had come to lead the way on their bikes, cursed us for wanting to live in such a place and drove away in a huff. His panic was comical.
But I wasn’t laughing anymore, when the last light left with the taxi. We were abandoned on top of a hill with our luggage, amidst heavy and ominous under growth, no visible path, no lights and a bunch of scruffy youngsters on bikes. Goa is really
The jungle around was dense and dark, the road broken, I could barely make out the road and made a mental note not to traverse the said path at night. The evening air was cool, the sky was so dark and clear, shimmering with a million stars. I could hear the waves—a gentle gurgle followed by a splash. Around me the darkness enveloped everything and the strange outline of shapes were a bit unsettling.
We finally reached the resort half trekking and half three on a bike. I held on tight to my two bags (never carry more than a single bag to Goa…never), it was a bumpy ride -- twice I was thrown off , once the bike was forced into an almost wheely , and thrice I screamed
The sight that greeted me at the bottom of the hill was the sight I had longed for over a year, ever since my last trip to Goa, when I had chanced upon this little unknown beach quite by accident.
It has taken me a year to get here, and I am finally here.
Cola beach portrays a comfortable sense of remoteness, yet it is not isolated. The resort here is built very tastefully with white Arabian tents and thatched huts, on the beach and sea facing. The rates are reasonable. The sea here is slightly rough, but the attraction lies in the fresh water estuary, which locals here regards as lagoon.
I wake up in a thatched hut, which is somewhat rickety –the board’s creek, the wooden bed looks ancient but soft, and the hard board floor is covered with a red carpet all around. There is no electricity till 6pm, and in the evening the resort is powered by a generator. The lack of electricity is hardly of any consequence; take it from a city girl who loves her warm bath and light in her bathroom even during the day.
The slightness and bareness of the hut with the beach and lagoon as fore feel like a painting expressing contentment and how it ought to be. From my room, I can see the calm lagoon, the beach, and the clear blue sky, a line of coconut trees, a few shrubs and the crashing waves. I breathe in deep, close my eyes, and open them to the same sight. I smile.
The food is great. Frugality is the core essence. The fishermen reside on the resort, and everyday there is fresh catch – grilled, fried and curried – all taste great. Good coffee can be a problem.
The fresh water lagoon is heavenly and therapeutic. The water is clean with a million tiny fish. An interesting sight while lounging in the shallow lagoon would be the pretty blue dragon flies hovering just above the water. I think it was mating season for them - the flies. Tiny fornicating dragon flies hovering all around. The water is not deep, and one can walk and swim back a long distance into the jungle from where the water flows. Often I would prefer the walk in the lagoon than on the beach. One afternoon I went for a long swim in the lagoon past the resort into the jungle behind. It was really quiet and so green. The sound of crashing waves got distant. The water was cold and at one point, I sat still in the water, a thousand tiny fish came around me, I could feel their tiny bodies against mine, it was fantastic and slightly spooky.
On one of my walks, I discovered another small beach, isolated –a beach right out of the LOST series, it resembled the beach of the movie Beach. The sea was quite rough, but the beach was incredible, really green, with a rice paddy field extending up to the beach. There’s only a single resort there, quite lavish with incredible rates. Plus they only do package tours – I could only see foreigners. As I mentioned before, we were the only Indians in most beaches in South Goa. I wonder if Indians don’t know about South Goa or don’t realize ….
The nights had gotten slightly chilly; I’d snuggle under a blanket on a beach bed and stare into the dark ocean, the lit sky and into my thoughts
The day ambles along. There is no cell phone network, I am glad. I meet new people from different parts of the world and make new friends; tree surgeons, dog trainers, chocolate van driver, yoga teachers and even a criminal.
The next day was spent in exploring other beaches of South Goa. There is so much to South Goa, a whole new world-- like a global village by the sea. Very few Indian tourists venture out to South Goa, which is a shame for it is so much more beautiful than North Goa.
AGONDA beach is great. Stretches long almost 3 kilometers , the water is calm and shallow till a long way in, so a weak swimmer can definitely go deep and still feel safe. Occasionally dolphins come close to the shore. There are such wonderful places to eat there. [For that you’ll have to read the post on Agonda ]
Then there is PATNEM BEACH - Right blend of frolic and peace. Not too isolated as Cola and slightly more urban than Agonda. Way less crowded and much cleaner than Palolem. The water is great similar to Agonda’s. One can walk way into the sea, splash and even swim. The sea feels calmer here. A great place to eat would be Sabai-Sabai run by an enchanting Italian called Mario who’s a great cook. We had thin crust pizza and a sea food salad – recommended. For desert we had the Tiramisu which was fantastic. Try the iced coffee too.
GalgiBag :A remote beach further than Talpona, one of the last beaches of South Goa, it is also a turtle nesting beach. Lined with fir and pine trees, the beach stretches long. As usual, only visitors other than the locals were foreigners.
I really don’t know how we got there. But the drive to Galgibag beach is beautiful. Past green hills, winding roads, paddy fields, old Goan villas and along the river. If you wish to get there, ask the foreigners you meet on Patnem, or the boho ones speeding on bikes. Most know. Locals might blank out.
The access road to the beach is narrow; we whir past tons of foreign tourists who seemed at home. It is a small village, with rustic old Goan homes, few hutments, churches, bungalows with large courtyards and tall towering coconut trees. I spot scores of foreign nationals lounging, walking with cloth bags, peeking from houses, eating and sipping tea at chai shops and ambling along. Most are long terms tourists, who come often, living on months at a stretch and some are even permanent residents. There are no shacks on the beach. Apparently they are not allowed. We spot some Russian sign boards. The locals still serve food to the visitors. Picnic tables are set under the fir trees. It is picturesque. We shared fried squid and chilled beers with Niels and Rachel. Travelers from Germany and New Zealand. Niels’ introduced himself as a German criminal. [Full story on the Galgibag post]
I make my way to the beach, clearly it is a path less trodden ... As I am no botanist, all I can say is, there were these creeper like plants, extending to the very edge of the beach.The water in Galgibag is magnificent. The sea bed is flat, the flat beach extends deep into the water. If lucky, you might spot the Olive Ridley turtle. As the gentle waves crashed against my body, I found myself floating into oblivion, wishing time would just still, as I watched the top of the fir trees gently sway in the breeze, nirvana seemed close by.
Further down the beach another site treated me, the Galgi River meets the sea. The patch is slightly rocky, the backdrop lined with green hills and coconut trees. The salt water lagoon rests on one side of the beach and the sea on the other side. The beach stretches till the union of the water bodies. On either side I see people lounging in water, some liketh the sea, and some the lagoon. It was unbelievable to be at such a spot, I marveled at my day, of how things collaborated through the day –the people, the food and goodness so that I could finally dip my body in the lagoon and float, while listening to the waves crashing on the other side.
The beauty of South Goa not only lies in the vast expansive sandy beaches or the dense green jungles or the confluence of the two. It is a mixture of all and the people you meet. I found what I went looking for, and so much more than that.