Goa Stole My Heart

Vagator Beach, Goa

Vagator Beach

With the threat of impending doom no reliable internet connection for the next few days, I’m thinking I should make the most of the hour before my next flight and write about Goa before so much time has passed that no one cares to read about it (is anyone reading this anyway??).

I haven’t been anywhere yet that I don’t want to return to, and I most definitely can’t wait to visit Goa again. I want to go back right now!

I stayed at Prison Hostel near Anjuna Beach. When my Indian family asked me where I was staying in Goa, I hesitated to tell them I was staying at a place called “Prison Hostel” – they were worried about me traveling alone as it is. But don’t let the name fool you, I wouldn’t have wanted to stay anywhere else. I have always been a believer that it’s the people you meet along the way that make visiting a place so special. I don’t care if I sleep in a tent on the side of the road as long as I’m in good company. I met amazing people at the hostel and they made my stay so memorable.

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So what did I do in Goa? It doesn’t sound that extraordinary. I would wake up either in time for free breakfast (which only happened twice) or would eat at Artjuna Cafe, a cafe with great food that was always filled with hippie-ish expats with their golden-brown tans and blonde little children running around. I was always so curious about how long they had been there, and if they were ever going to leave. The rest of the days were spent at various beaches – no surprise there. I got super tan (an Indian no-no, sorry Mom and Dad!) and swam in the Arabian Sea for the first time. It’s the off-season in Goa now, so it’s not so crowded and to my surprise there were more Indian tourists than any others. Most nights started and ended at Curlies, a bar/restaurant on Anjuna Beach, but we also went to a few others. Wednesday was ladies’ night at Club Cubana, so us girls got in for free! This was my first club experience in India and it was a lot of fun dancing the night away into the wee hours of the morning, hence the sleeping through free breakfast.

One thing really stuck with me on an afternoon at the beach. A young girl peddling jewelry on the beach told us that she comes from Hampi to Goa when it’s peak season to sell her goods. She doesn’t know how to read or write, but she spoke impeccable English, and also speaks Russian and multiple other languages. She motioned to the beach around her and said that this was her school, and we are her teachers. I think of her every time I look at the anklet my friend bought all of us as a way of helping her out.

I didn’t do some of the other things that were recommended to me, like visit the forts or even eat fish curry. I’ll save it for my next visit. I did what I love most; met great people, tried new things, walked around with sandy feet and messy hair, with no make up and not a care in the world.

Scooter in Goa

But I did learn how to drive a scooter! Some who saw my driving may argue that I’m using the term “learn” rather loosely. I’m not exactly Evel Knievel. My starting from a stopped position, driving over speed breakers, left turns, and driving with a passenger on my back could use a little work…but it was so fun! Riding scooters is the best way to get around Goa, and I was sad to say goodbye to mine when I had to leave. I walked away rather unscathed, with only one scrape which I’ll chalk up to a souvenir of the experience. I’m really itching to ride one again!

I didn’t take as many photos as I wish I did. Or do I? So often we get caught up in capturing moments on our phones or cameras that we don’t take the time to really SEE what’s around us. I saw some stunning views on the scooter ride to and from Arambol beach. I had so much fun talking and laughing with my hostel friends. I witnessed happiness all around me. I know I’ll remember it all for a long time to come. My heart is heavy whenever I leave a place and have to say goodbye to my new friends. But the world is smaller than it used to be, and I feel confident that I’ll meet these people again somewhere down the line.

 

Every time I reflect on my backpacking experiences, I feel the pitter-patter of my heart beating the way a school girl’s does when that cute boy across the lunchroom steals a glance at her. It’s this feeling that keeps me going and reminds me that I’m exactly where I need to be. I want the world. Why wait?

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My recommendations:

Stay at: Prison Hostel in Anjuna Beach

Eat at: Artjuna cafe, 6 Pack Bar & Restaurant, Curlies, Shiva Place at Small Vagator beach (great pizza!)

Swim at: Anjuna beach, Small Vagator beach, Arambol beach