Relaxing and recharging the batteries in North Goa
02.12.2007 - 03.01.2008 30 °C
After the 2nd of December, we movedd up North to the beach town of Arambol. We rented a small 'appartment', with two rooms, a kitchen area and a bathroom with cold water, for a month.
We became more or less vegetarian while here (you need a break from meat after spending any length of time in Argentina), and we started swimming a bit, taking walks, suntanning and reading books. The perfect way to chill out and recharge after our mad dash around Latin America - and before starting another odessey around India.
The beach here is far from undeveloped and empty, but it is still less crowded than the beaches just to the South of here, like Baga and Calanguete, and it is certainly still beautiful. A long stretch of white sand, bordered by a picturesque rocky headland. People reading on sunchairs, cows relaxing on the sand.
After dark, the beachfront restaurants move their tables out on the sand, and light candles and lamps. Music floats out across the water, mixing with the scent of delicious Indian cooking.
On the 13th, Jay and Milena arrived. it was great to see them again. We went to the busy flea market at Anjuna, which is obviosly a bit of a tourist trap, but was still fun. Ear cleaners come up and try to convince you that you have soap in your ear, and then proceed to try to clean it with a long metal rod - not very safe I'm sure. Elephant rides are on offer, as are a myriad of souvenirs. Very colourful, and a good way to spend an afternoon - but few real bargains to be had.
We took walks round the rocky headland. You walk around a bend, between stalls selling the usual offerings of bags, shawls and clothes. Then you have to climb across some black, volcanic rocks. Beyond these, there is a smaller, sandy beach, which is unique due to the freshwater lagoon right there on the beach. Only a narrow stretch of white sand separates the lagoon from the sea. It is a lovely setting - the lagoon backed by tree covered hills, dense jungle-like forest. At either end of the bay, the hills and rocks jut out into the water, sheltering the beach. With only a few huts, the beach feels more isolated than the main beach, and swimming in the lagoon comes close to being the star of a bounty commercial
On the 20th, Lisbeth arrived from Denmark for a 10 day stay. We met her at the airport. We spent some days realxing on the beach and catching up. We also went to the local market at Mapusa, the major town in the North part of Goa, and to the Saturday night bazaar at Baga. While the night bazaar is touristy like the Anjuna flea market, it is also a fun way to spend a Saturday night, and it differs from Anjuna due to its many food stalls and the shows and live music going on.
Mapusa market on the other hands is a more or less entirely local affair, and gives a more 'authentic' look at Goan market life, with stalls of fruits, fish, meats as well as clothing and blankets.
In Goa, around the central town of Ponda, there are several spice farms, which run tours for tourists. Here it is possible to see how various spices are grown, and later to sample some food made with the local produce. We went with Lisbeth to one called the Savoi Spice Plantation. It was fascinating to walk in the shade of the many trees, and see how spices we are only accostumed to seeing in their dired form, look when they are fresh, adn to see how they grow. We saw pepper, cloves, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamon, chillies, nutmeg and turmeric as well as fruits and nuts such as pineapple, coconut, betelnut and the very pretty roseapple, which I had never tasted before. It was mild and fresh and quite delicious.
After the tour, they served us a lovely vegetarian meal of veg curry, kingfish, bananaflowers, brown rice and cauliflower pakora, among other things. All in all a great day out.
On Christmas Eve, we had a dinner buffet in Benaulim, in a restaurant called Pedro's. Unfortunately, I got a stomach ache in the night, and Lisbeth was quite ill all the next day. Food poisening. I guess we should have known better than to eat a buffet in India! So, Christmas day was spent in bed, and we had to cancel our lunch with Philo and Preema. Luckily, it was only a 24 hour thing, and we were better the next day.
We managed a quick visit to Old Goa - the original capital of Portuguese Goa. The chruches there, a remnant of the golden era of the Portuguese empire, are certainly impressive. They are surely unique in their grandour in Asia - but having just arrived from the Catholic stronghold that is Latin America, churches no longer impress us as easily... Still, is was fun to see it.
We also stopped in at the fish market in Margao. They have great fish there - huge prawns, big pomfrets, tuna and kingfish. To my dismay, they also had baskets full of tiny hammerhead sharks - a most depressing sight!
Before Lisbeth went home, we went to visit Philo and Preema in Maina. Preema took us round in Margao, and found the best places for Lisbeth to buy some spices and cashew nuts to bring home. The combination is this and all her previous market purchases, filled a whole new suitcase with stuff - good thing she had come out with only hand luggage.
Back in Arambol, we celebrated New Years Eve.