Damien and I met in the Delhi airport after Kullu and hopped our flight to Goa, where he is living for six months. Erin had already been here for a week so it was fun to reunite with her and also have our “Carolina Crew” – named after our somewhat shared address in San Francisco – back together. We put Smog on itunes, our favorite chill out music, and started what would become an amazing week and half long stint of only the finest in relaxation, friends, and food.
Erin and I spend our days on the beach or zooming around exploring on our scooter. At sunset we usually meet on the beach with new friends, Charlotte and Sukhad, for leisurely strolls before Damien joins us after work. Charlotte owns a boutique hotel in Majorda, the small village in South Goa, where her and her brother have completely renovated an old estate home into a true treasure, worthy of at least six stars. If interested, check out he place here. Walking through the front entrance you feel as if you’ve entered into a new world of luxury as each detail of the hotel has been meticulously pored over. Some evenings we spend here having dinner with other guests of the hotel. CEO’s, consultant’s, and second-time around the world travelers – this time with children – are our dinner companions and we talk of the future of the world, namely China and India, as well as exciting travel destinations and hints as to where Erin and I can go next. We sip on refreshing drinks invented by Erin and Charlotte, vodka and soda with lots of fresh squeezed lime juice and sugar to keep us cool in the always-hot Goan weather. Sukhad, a local Goan, who is getting his PhD in the Netherlands, gives us advice on how to best see the true Goa and is the first to show us Sunset Beach on one of our evening strolls. Nearly every night we meet with Charlotte and Sukhad for dinner or drinks, our little crew growing tighter and tighter as every day passes.
One afternoon, Charlotte takes Erin and I up to Baga in Northern Goa to meet with healer Patrick. Not really having any physical or health issues, I tell him about my wild moods and my need for at least nine hours of sleep. He does his “thing” which consists of closing his eyes and placing his right hand about six inches away from his heart, looking as if he’s holding an invisible pencil in the hand with the tip pointing towards the ceiling. His hand moves due to the energy and his fingers pulse. I stare at him intently, like I’m expecting him to suddenly open his eyes and yell “boo!” After about three long minutes he opens his eyes and tells me that I have a conflict between my heart and my brain and in order to overcome these issues I should meditate often and get lots of physical exercise. I tell him “sounds good” and walk out the door. He only accepts donations which he gives in full to his charity for children, so I place 100 rupees in the jar – about $2.50 – and walk past the line of about twenty people. Afterwards we visit local markets before returning to Majorda.
On the weekend, we bid Sukhad farewell as he is returning to the Netherlands and rent a car where the four of us head south into neighboring state Karnataka, for some trekking and white water rafting. Sunday morning we wake early to get on and off the river before the high-noon heat. We paddle efficiently and our guide offers us the chance to “surf” a rapid by paddling against the current to ride its crest. With a bit of ego-driven reason, Damien and I convince the girls it will be lots of fun, even in the face of our guide saying there is a 75% chance that the boat will capsize. We paddle hard on our second attempt and begin surfing, riding the “wave” for a good three seconds, before lurching forward and catching the nose of our boat underwater which sends Erin and I backwards into the water. The boat doesn’t capsize, but Erin and I are smiling and laughing as we get pulled back into the raft. We return to the camp and after lunch finish our game of hearts started the day prior. Charlotte wins by a nose after an amazing comeback and we discuss strategies for our next “match,” which unfortunately never occurs.
For our last day, Erin and I cruise up to Old Goa to view the giant cathedrals and monasteries. Goa was once under Portuguese rule, so Catholocism is extremely popular. Afterwards, we head to quaint city, Panjim, where we stop at the markets, gathering food for the final feast. We arrive at Charlotte’s house, a second-level flat in an antiquated Portuguese home, pour some white wine and begin to prepare the meal. I cook a Penne Carbonara which is received well, and a simple tomato, cucumber and basil salad. Erin makes her famous Fruit Pizza, but jazzes it up using fresh local fruits like Mango, Pineapple and Bananas. We stay up late, drinking wine and chatting about travel before bidding Charlotte farewell. Before leaving she has drawn us a detailed map of Bombay where we will spend our last day before leaving for Jordan. She made our stay here so memorable and we will miss her greatly. A huge thanks goes out to Damien as well, for letting us crash at his place, eat all of his Nutella and Himachal Jam, and enjoy the company of him and his friends. Thanks D, for all of your hospitality and generosity. Hope to see you in South America!
Off to Bombay, then the Middle East! 🙂