Passage To India: Part 2 - Goan Spirit

After Delhi and Mumbai my next destination was Goa. I arrived in Goa on Christmas Eve in the midst of another security alert following the Mumbai attacks. As with other airports in India, security was stepped up to a high level. When I finally found my way out of the airport and into a cab I noticed the security presence on the roads was very high too. Apparently it had been reported that Goa was a 'soft target' for terrorists because of number of foreign tourists that were there over the festive season. I had heard many of the beach parties and other events had been limited or cancelled because of the threat.

It was a bit of a shame to have arrived in such circumstances but I was still taken away by the beautiful Goan landscape. I was spending Christmas with some friends of mine so I knew that I would cheer me up.

The next day was Christmas Day and the friends I was staying with organised a massive Christmas lunch. Christmas is quite a big deal in Goa as it used to be a Portuguese colony so still has a lot of Christian Catholic influence. As you can see from the photo the Christmas meal was a little different to what people are used to in the west! The main dish was a duck cooked with spices not turkey! It was served with an assortment of other spicy vegetables and rice. The meal was topped of with a beer on the garden patio in 30 degree heat which made for a rather unusual Crimbo for me as you can imagine!

Unfortunately, my plans had got changed somewhat because of the security alerts as I was supposed to meet some friends and family in Goa. They couldn't make it in the end so following Christmas the rest of my trip was spent at an appartment near Benaulim Beach in south Goa. I woke up every day and made my way to the beach where I would go to one of the many beach shacks for a cool cocktail and some authentic Goan fish! The service was a bit chilled out but that was the Goan style. I found the people there to be friendly and honest.

The beach turned out to be a very good place for meeting all sorts of people from different parts of the world. On the first day I met this crazy bunch who I ended up spending new years with! They know who they are!

After several days of lazing about on the beach, swimming in the sea and a scooter trip to north Goa it was New Year's Eve. This is was actuallly the first New Years I had celebrated out of the UK so it was a little weird! I wasn't sure exactly how things would turn out but I had heard their was a beach party happening on one of the many beaches in north Goa. We decided to chance it and jumped in a couple of cabs to get there. The journey was about two and a half hours long but well worth it. We arrived in the town just outside the beach and had to make the rest of the way on foot. The town was vibrant with life and people from all over the world. After an interesting walk in the dark through the palm trees we made it out on to the beach where we were met by a barrage of colour, movement and loud Goa trance music. It was a an experience I would never forget.

Each beach shack was dimmly lit and had its own DJ playing the craziest trance I had heard for a while. The good part was you could order food at them as well. I immediately ordered some chicken fried rice (good energy food) along with my standard Cubre Libre!

There rest of the night was an intoxicating blur which led up to me running around the beach at the stroke of midnight wishing everyone Happy New Year! They had lots of fireworks going off though they didn't seem to be very safe. A couple of them flew in our direction so we got well clear! Most of the rest of the night I don't remember much of at all. In the morning we got a cab back to Benaulim beach, I feel asleep and woke up just as it got to my appartment - thank god! I slept all of new year day as I am sure many people did!

I only spent a couple more days in Goa before flying to Bangalore then back to UK. My trip to India had been a very eventful and enlightening one though it hadn't gone entirely as planned. When I finally landed in the UK it was -6 degrees and freezing cold. It seemed like a world away from the heat of Goa.