Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together – Vincent Van Gogh

Posts tagged ‘Calangute’

#1 Thing to do in Goa – Check out Every Beach You Can!

Goa Beaches

Goa Beaches

Goa is a tiny sliver of land on the west of India and is rather famed for its beaches. So when you visit the state, what else would you rather do than hit the beach, frolic in the Arabian sea and lounge on the soft sand. When you’ve done dozing in the shade of a palm tree, grab a beer, tuck into some Goan food at the quaint palm thatched shacks or just go for long strolls to vibe with the sultry sea breeze.

Goa is administratively divided into North and South and the 101 kilometers of coast line is dotted with a number of lovely beaches.

Beaches in North Goa

Goa Beach_2From way up North, you start with the fairly isolated Arambol, Mandrem, the Olive Ridley turtle nesting site of Morjim, Vagator and then on to Anjuna famed for its flea market. The fort of Chapora turns into a rocky outcrop that reaches out to Baga, Calangute draws the marauding throngs, Candolim and Sinquerim where you bump into Fort Aguada, which is a rather pretty place. Round a little bend, Coco beach at Nerul and then you jump over the river Mandovi and its Miramar on the suburbs of the capital city – Panjim. Dona Paula is not much of a beach really, further down is Bambolim and Sridao, which are  wonderfully private little beaches and then you plunge into the river Zuari that actually divides the North of the State from the South.

Beaches in South Goa

Goa_Beach_3In the South you begin with the lovely and quiet Bogmalo, Velsao, the infamous Vasco, Majorda, Betalbatim, crowded Colva where all the hordes descend for a flavor of the south of Goa. Then on to the five star locales of the South, Benaulim, Varca, Cavelossim and Mobor, the picturesque Betul and Canaguinim. At the extreme south of the state, you encounter the secluded yet gorgeous beaches of Agonda, the coco huts of Palolem and then Talpona.

This is indeed a tall list of beaches to visit in a single trip and a great reason for you to visit Goa again.

To move around, hire a bike, they are rather inexpensive or if you’ll a larger group a self-driven car would be great. This should help you travel cost-effectively. Hiring a car with a driver is exorbitant in Goa, and public transport is pathetic.

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Things to do on the beaches of Goa

  • Wear light, loose casual clothes that dry quickly. Avoid expensive clothes as the sea water would seriously damage them
  • For footwear, a pair of rubber or plastic slippers or thin sandals would ensure they are not ruined even if they get wet
  • When you’ve on the beach take time to relax, it’s an extremely beautiful place to be at, especially during sunrise and sunset
  • Keep your camera at the ready and take lots of memorable pictures
  • The sea is relatively calm in Goa, except during the monsoons, so you could have a great time and venture in a bit if you are a good swimmer
  • The shacks are lovely places to hang out at, most offer good music, but they can be expensive and the food is not always the best
  • The lady hawkers trawling the beach sell lovely accessories at really low rates. Just the place if you are looking for a bargain
  • Carry lots of suntan lotion to ensure you don’t get sunburnt, a wide brimmed hat will be most useful too
  • Don’t just abandon your belonging and get into the water, your stuff could get stolen

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Things not to do on the beaches of Goa

  • Don’t litter the beach with beer cans, glass bottles and plastic. If you don’t find a bin, you will have to wait and dispose of the waste at your hotel
  • Do not stare at people, irrespective of how they are dressed or their skin colour. It’s just not cultured or polite – most of us Indians just don’t get this, do we?
  • Avoid getting drunk and getting into the sea. Just stay hydrated, that’s going to be difficult enough in hot, humid Goa
  • If the lifeguard waves you away from the water, take the advice. They are unlikely to be able to save you in case you find yourself drowning
  • Avoid getting into the sea after dark, it’s just not safe

If you are looking for a unique stay in Goa, that is homely, cost- effective and safe, book into a homestay. Like our Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/goaallyear and contact us at lilliandcosta@gmail.com

Stench of Garbage Breaks Up a Reverie

DSC_9846I remember my village of Saligao as idyllic. In so many ways it still is. Gentle rolling hills full of cashew trees, a sprawl of a thousand slopping roof houses and the soft sight of green paddy fields making waves in the breeze. Coconut trees dot the village and drainage trenches that turn to streams each monsoon. It’s a calm village, full of a gentle people, each busy with trying to carve out an honest living.

DSC_9757 DSC_9833I remember the hills of Saligao the most, for that’s where folks took their goats and cattle for grazing and that’s where you went to snack on the rich fruits of cashew and Jambuls. As little kids, you looked up into those huge trees and imagined vampires and ghosts. Those solid tree trunks took on menacing shapes. We scrambled up and down smaller trees, and I remember playing house as the goats grazed on the rich grass. There were flowers of varied hues and fruits that looked pretty, but you dared not eat. As we played, we could hear the incessant thud of wood being cut, then, villagers relied heavily on this hill for firewood. I remember the night air filling with the eerie howl of foxes and wondered if like the grandmother in red riding hood, they could get near enough to devour us.

DSC_9847Each cashew season, we went into the hill to sneak out a few cashew seeds which we carefully dried out and roasted. On a rainy day the fragrance of roasting nuts filled the neighbourhood and it was delicious. Cashew juice is also extracted to make alcohol, but before the process of fermentation begins, it makes for an interesting, non-intoxicating drink.  I remember taking glass bottles and going up to buy ‘niro’ as we call it.

Sometime later the hill was fenced off. The forest department took over, cattle and goats were prevented from going there to graze, guards prevented people from cutting stacks of fire wood and new trees were planted. The green cover got denser, we could now hear the distinct call of peacocks, and those who saw them admired their large, rich plumage. It seems rabbits thrived, the wild boar, once excessively hunted returned to feast on the succulent cashew. The endangered monitor lizards roamed free, the dwindling foxes were back again in large numbers. In the thick foliage of creepers, wines and massive trees one can hear the call of many species of birds. Yes, it’s idyllic or almost, for a decadent industry crept in, unobtrusively and nonchalantly like a breeze, it is a so called clean and green industry, it is glamorous on the outside, but a cesspool on the inside and it is called Tourism.

DSC_9784 DSC_9736My village boarders the world famous village of Calangute, better known for its crowded beach, and when the tourists have come and had their fill at the hotels crammed into a few kilometers of space, trucks of waste find their way closer into my relaxed, sleepy village. The garbage has been dumped on the crown on my idyllic village for over a decade now, unsegregated, rotting, untreated, all types of waste. An abandoned quarry that is alight all year round, sending up plumes of smoke in the middle of a picture perfect scene of thick grass filled with morning dew, scampering rabbits, chasing foxes, scuttling birds, languid water buffalo and mud-puddling butterflies.

The stray dogs and scavenging raptors have made the garbage dumping ground a war zone, the rising clouds of smoke has injected toxins into the air, and the fly ash has seeped through the red laterite rock and contaminated our famed, medicinal Salmona spring. Yet local people with no access to any other means of portable water continue to consume it, even as the contamination seeps further into the ground. The people protested, albeit feebly and the garbage dumping continued, unabated, year after year, leveraging the unassuming loopholes in the law and the superficiality of boundary lines.

Now the famed village of Calangute is tired of the charade and wants to wear its pride and forex contribution to the state coffers on its sleeve. No more sneaking into your village with our stinky trucks of garbage they say. We are going to ride in with pride and as victors; we are going to dispose of our waste at a modern day ‘garbage treatment plant’, and they have brought their Goebbel’s along with their magical bottles of star dust.

Pictures of Saligao courtesy Nagaraj P

Pictures of the garbage site courtesy  Dean D’Cruz

ImageAnd the script is not new here. It is exactly what the capital city of GoaPanjim did to the tiny, exuberant village of Curca, not so long ago. Under the guise of a World Bank funded project, day in and day out, they strong armed their way in, with trucks carrying tons of waste. Feel privileged, it’s from the capital city, it’s the waste of the elite they seemed to taunt, as they dumped their contents into an open abandoned stone quarry on the crown of the village. A tiny vermi composting unit stood in a corner, a farce and façade rolled in one.  And then I looked on at what was to be my first glimpse of proverbial hell, a little hut of rag pickers amidst the swirling smoke of burning garbage, as dirt smeared folk rummaged through massive stacks of garbage, trying to eke out a nasty living.

So I need no soothsayer or fortune teller to tell me how this is going to end. It’s a well-worn script and it’s going to be played out with a foretold conclusion. My village of Saligao is going to be the newest goat at the sacrificial alter of tourism or development, however you want to see it.

There are always those with miserably short memories, there are always those greedily yearning for those pieces of silver, and there are always those who arduously pave the way to hell with their good intentions, I think this lot will win, against the prophets who have not been acknowledged for many decades in their own village, and will not be now. And my village of Saligao will live on in a corner of my mind, a little of it dying each time a new truck comes by and empties its rot onto the softest grass and putrid pungent stink fills the crisp clean air, and the reverie of a wonderful village is broken.

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