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Published: November 11th 2011
GOa, India but we’re ‘standing still’
Part 1:getting to Goa was fun….here is the pre-Goa action we had. We decided to drive rather than fly so we drove for 5+ hours in tiny hatchback taxi from Rishikesh to Delhi airport from 4.30am Sunday 23 October 2011. Our driver had to be ‘woken up’ to start the journey but after a few yawns, cup of tea and his smokes he sprung into action and off we raced to Delhi in pitch darkness. Luckily he was sleeping in the nearby travel agent office near our Rishikesh cottage so Dave just had to bang on the metal roller door to wake them up. It was an amazing journey to see life early in the day India-style. We saw loads of people springing into life with morning tea, breakfast, washing faces and brushing of teeth all on the side of the dusty highway; local buses jammed packed with overnight travellers; farmers driving their tractors or carts of produce drawn by cow, donkey or camel (yes Camels) along the busy highways and even some sugar cane being burnt at early dawn. We even saw loads of joggers pounding the pavement in pitch
darkness to enjoy the coolness of the day.
We were cruising along the main highway with all signs pointing to Delhi when suddenly our driver turns off and decides to take a little side detour to transact some personal business. Robbo is freaking (Anxiety girl!!) as to where we were, were we going to miss our flight yadda yadda yadda but Dave just said‘ Relax dude, its India!’ Our driver then eventually returned and off we continued back to highway to Delhi. Once we got to the outskirts of Delhi, the pollution and dust was stifling, population over 15 million, it was this grey haze all day, no sight of blue sky. Another eye opener was a brief tour we had of both the city dump and then the New Delhi fresh food and meat markets, including loads of goats’ heads and their organs displayed on the dusty pavements for potential buyers.
Safe and sound, we were deposited at the airport to await our flight to Goa, mid afternoon. New Delhi domestic terminal is a sanctuary out of the dust and pollution and not too bad for a proper coffee. We did some shopping – Dave got a new
digital camera as our little Canon has packed it in when we were in Nepal and we also got a little travel kettle (yippee – cup of coffee & tea whenever we like –we will definitely some coffee before the 5.30am meditation & chanting at Kerala Ashram kicks off every day!!).
Part 2: Goa – note we’d been here in 2007 with a work conference and really enjoyed and stayed at Park Hyatt resort.
So we arrived in Goa, breathing a huge sigh as immediately we were seeing clearer skies and feeling a coolness in the air due to abundance of trees resulting from the main monsoon rains that had just finished. We found online, a yoga retreat, Satsanga, which we booked initially for 3 nights with the most beautiful welcoming hosts, Jodi and Olaf. After our 1st night we loved it and extended for further 7 nights and now we have ended up being here a total of 3 weeks.
It is blissful, very reminiscent of being in Bali with beautiful rooms, swimming pool and yoga shalas to practice in. The team include wonderful friendly gardeners and housekeeping staff who tend to this oasis, a magical chef,
Mani and her team who whip up homemade ayurvedic vegetarian dishes.
Check out their website and workshops at www.satsangaretreat.com
Olaf and Jodi have two beautiful dogs, Shanti and Priya (rescued dogs) plus 4 or 5 yogi cats. One in particular, Coli has been a frequent guest in our room for little naps & cuddles on Dave’s bed. She is a cat that sleeps all day stretched out in crazy positions, then at night she wanders from room to room snuggling in for cuddles.
We have not done very much except yoga, reading (& I mean reading heaps as they have a great library here), heading to the local beaches for a body surf (our picks were Aswen and Morjim) on our rented scooter. Plus for us very limited shopping (mainly Rhinocourt - nasal spray for Dave’s allergies as here you can get triple the strength for 2/3’s less expensive than the over-the-counter stuff at home) and no sightseeing tours – we’ve just been watching the world go by. We have craved sitting still for so long after 3 months of trekking/hiking in England, Scotland and Nepal so that is what we’re doing. Soon enough we’ll do another
trek / adventure but for now it is time to just be.
We have met some very interesting guests in this retreat, some students and some yoga teachers and massage therapists who have had many varied and fascinating journeys that they have taken to make their lives and businesses in Goa.
Some highlights during our stay included (in no particular order):
A) It was Diwali festival from 26 October (the biggest Indian festival) so it has been little noisier with pumping trance music and fireworks going off in the evening and anytime really but it all good fun, noting that the eve of Diwali sounded more like a war-zone gun fire.
Part of the Diwali festival is to celebrate Lord Krishna defeating the evil Narakasura and thus saving Mother Earth from further misery.
In Goa, all villages and cities have competitions to see who can make the biggest and scariest Narakasura effigy. The main celebration takes place on Narakasura Chaturdashi, the day before the main day of Diwali, when the effigies are all burnt at dawn. So we got up at 5.00am to watch the burning of the last remaining effigy near the Satsanga retreat. It
Dinner at Thalassa Greek restaurant
Dinner with some guests, David and Andy and Satsanga hosts, Jodi and Olaf and Carlene
was fun, chatting with the boys of the village then watching their effigy go up in flames with extra firecrackers added for more ‘noise’ and excitement. The local girls were much more clever and took shelter well away from the exploding crackers and debris. You know what they say, "boys will be boys!!" especially it seems with anything to do with fire, flammable and exploding.
B) The food here was sooo yummy, beautiful and flavoursome vegetarian made with organic goodies including homemade ghee/butter no white flour or processed sugars. They did for dessert these bliss balls that were so beautiful (our favourite) and also a beetroot curry dish which was one of my favourites. You can take cooking classes with chef Mani to learn some of her secrets.
C) Illegal guests – there was one evening an unwanted massive python who visited Jodi and Olaf’s room and was located under their bed.
Yes folks, a 10kg python was resting under their bed, their dogs were very agitated and Jodi put her hand under the bed to see what the fuss was and then saw the unwanted guest. Their biggest fear was the little 5-week-old kitten that also was
sleeping in their bedroom with its mother. They had a frantic search until they found mum and babe safe & sound - phew. A professional snake remover was called and he even was shocked by the size of this visitor, ‘F*&k’ was the expression the snake remover used initially.
Note to self – don’t use your hand to rummage around the bed, better to use a torch first from a safe distance, just in case.
D) Getting 'high fives' from little children in neighbouring village as we scoot past them on the scooter
F) Body surfing in the beautiful warm ocean at nearby beaches
G) Looking out at the beautiful stars and moon from our bedroom
We have really loved our stay here so much that we are going to stay at Satsanga and North Goa.
We are off to Kerala, specifically flying to Trivandrum (southern tip of India) on 12 November for our next adventure at the Sivananda Ashram at Neyyr Dam with 5.20am wakeup for compulsory satsang (90 mins of silent meditation, chanting and philosophy) then you get a cuppa. Lucky we have our coffee contraband for the all important heart starter for Dave, assuming the
electricity is running when we wake up!
Thought for the day:
'PLEASE YOU THINK POSITIVE' from slogan painted on someone's house we passed by every day.
Bye for now xx
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