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Published: March 27th 2011
We really hoped that the train would be late, but the Lakswahdeep Express arrived at Margao right on schedule at the ungodly hour of 3:40am. We killed the next three hours relaxing among the unwashed masses at the station before venturing out to find a tuk tuk. We accepted the drivers recommendation of a hotel in Colva and stayed at Casa Roiz for the next two days – nice hotel, very quiet, a balcony that overlooked the pigs and so many rules – Kelly counted 21 that were posted in the room and that did not include all those posted around the hotel.
Colva is a rather ugly little town - the main road runs right to the beach and is lined with stores and restaurants aimed at the tourist. However, it did have a Coffee Day Express and did provide a great base for finding an apartment for the remainder of our vacation.
We rented a moped and soon found the perfect place at Emmanuels in Benaulim. Living room, bedroom and fully stocked kitchen as well a large private balcony for 700 rs a night in a brand new yellow, green and pink building. It is in the
center of town, about a 20 minute walk from the beach through the gauntlet of small shops – we promise to go into every one before we leave, although it is doubtful if we will buy anything. Having a fridge is a bonus and we keep it stocked with fresh fruit, veggies and water. The mangoes are the most excellent ever – deep orange flesh and so tasty.
The beach is one long stretch from Velsao to Mobor – a distane of about 30 km. Whenever a road comes down to the beach from a small town or there is a large hotel complex, there are a number of shacks on the beach selling food and drinks as well as providing sun loungers. Overall it is pretty quiet with the high tourist season ending at the beginning of March – hence the great deals in accommodation that we have been getting. While we are probably only about 60 km from Calangute, the two places couldn’t be further apart – it is very low key here with small guest houses tucked away down dusty roads. There are rice fields between the beach and the villages in the south whereas the
northern towns are right on the beach
On a moped ride as far south as Mobor our mouths dropped open when we saw a sight that we did not believe existed in India – a clean river!!! The Sal river enters the ocean behind a long sand bar and is lined with fishing boats. Very picturesque. On a later day, we rented bicycles and ventured south to cross the river by ferry. Roads are very flat here and are suited to the one speed rust buckets they pass off as bikes. On the way back I had the brilliant idea that I would cut down to the beach and ride along the sand like we had seen others doing. I didn’t count on having to push the heavy bike through the dunes first. Riding along the beach was OK if we hadn’t already ridden a large # of kms in the heat. Lesson learnt.
When we were here four years ago, we stayed at the beach at Sernabatim, a few km south of Colva. What a difference 4 years make – that little hotel was no more, although the building is still there it is now used by
the lifeguards as a base. In the tourist towns it is easier to get an expresso than a decent cup of chai and the restaurants are all multicuisine (Indian, Chinese, Italian, you name it). We even ate at a place called La Tratorria, although we did eat Indian.
I got brave and we rented 2 mopeds for an excursion to Chandor to see an old Portuguese mansion. The directions we were given sounded pretty simple – turn left at the church in Varca and go straight! Unfortunately there were a number of intersections choices we had to make and a fair amount of backtracking but we made it. The Braganza House was built in the 17th century and the west side that belongs to the Menenzes-Braganza branch of the family has been kept in its original state as much as possible and is filled with priceless antiques that the family acquired. Once Goa gained its independence from Portugal the family lands (and therefore their wealth) were seized by the Goan government.
I am sure the tan on our feet is actually ground in dirt from walking round in sandals all the time – that footwear is certainly not
the same colour that it was when we arrived. And as for our clothing! After having my favourite white T shirt turned a lovely shade of rust after being washed at a laundry with Kellys’ new orange Indian shirt, and after Kelly was without clothes for three days cos another laundry took so long – I am sticking to hand washing in a bucket. Only the surface dirt is coming off but at least my clothes smell clean.
And Kelly has the final word….Well I'd been putting off getting my hair cut looking for a suitable place for too long so it's now or I come back looking like I stuck my finger in the light socket. Some of the salons (I'm using that word very loosely) are a chair on the street one or two chairs in a dimly lit room and one was in the back of tire repair shop maybe but maybe that's our equivalent to our laundries attached to a bar. As luck would have it our last destination has a modern well lit 3 chair barber shop and it looks clean. So me no speak Indian and them speak little English not a good
combo when you want the latest coiffure. I hold up 3 fingers and point to the clippers for the sides and use my finger thickness for the top length. Great hair cut followed by head back arm massage complete with my knuckles cracked for me. An Indian fellow two chairs down was having this yellow paste put all over his face then dried, washed, massaged and repeated with a clear liquid this time and all the while being pampered They ask, you want, I nod my head and think when in Rome! One hour later I've had had my first ever facial and not the last.
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