Monday, 18 April 2011

Go Goa

The idea of being holed up in Mumbai with the kids for the Easter Hols was too much to bear. 
“I’ll go crazy” I said to my friend Amanda. “I can’t face going to The Club every day and I don’t know what else to do with them.
“What we need is a cheap holiday; somewhere we can read our books while the kids dig a hole in the sand for six days.”
Now I know for a fact that Amanda and Henry take their kids to the same spot in Goa several times a year and were planning to go again at Easter. It’s their little secret.
 “Where’s that place you go to again?” I enquired casually
She tried telling me that there are plenty of fabulous beaches in Goa but I got it out of her in the end and  over coffee that morning I managed to invite myself, husband and two kids to crash their  holiday in Agonda, a quiet and picturesque beach north of Palolem.
Amanda and family always stay at Sami’s, a very basic beach shack with flushing toilets, two double beds and a cold shower. It costs buttons and is next door to a rather fabulous bar called Madhu’s. More of which later.
As it was Easter and end of season,   the place would be deserted and Amanda reckoned we could just show up and take our pick of beach huts. But we are not quite that Bohemian so I booked something online before we set off.
“How much is it? “ Mick asked for the third time.
“Six hundred rupees a night”
“What? Per person?”
“No, for  the whole cottage.”
“Let’s take two!”
Goa’s a hop and a skip away and we arrived at Palm Beach Lifestyle Resort an hour after  we landed at Dabolim. Two minutes later the kids were in their costumes and snorkels.
“Can we go to the beach now?”  Let the digging commence!
After a couple of chapters and a half hour snooze, I went back to the cottage to change  for the evening and make the place a little more ‘homey’.  I had brought my own Egyptian cotton bed sheets as I am funny about bed bugs and kid myself that the extra thickness of my own sheets will somehow slow the progress of the bugs emerging from the mattress to bite my legs. I placed a Jo Malone candle by the bed and put on some colourful ‘ethnic’ trousers which I wouldn’t normally be seen dead in. What is it about Goa that makes you think it’s ok to dress like a hippy?
I collected my family and we wandered up the beach  in search of Madhu’s bar where we’d planned to meet Amanda and family. We had only been in Goa for five hours and already  my husband  looked ten years younger as the city worries fell from his face. Goa gets you like that, with its Old World Portuguese charm and vibrant beach huts. It’s like being in a Bounty advert.
Agonda  Beach is  long,  white and, at this time of year, almost deserted except for a few cows, dogs, pigs and people.  It is lined with shack after idyllic shack, some very basic, some very luxurious , like H20, with its ambient music floating out to sea and guests lounging on purple sun beds.

We stopped for a drink half way up the beach to watch the sunset but made the mistake of sitting next to some nut-brown old soap dodger from Birmingham who was boring everyone with his, frankly nonsense tale of spotting a UFO over Agonda beach back in the Eighties.
“It was like a giant white pearl hurtling through the sky”
Yeah, it’s the drugs mate or you’ve been in the sun too long. Go and wash your hair!  I thought but did not say.
And so we found our Kiwi friends looking very comfortable in their deckchairs at Madhu’s Bar and Grill. A couple more Long Island Iced Teas were ordered and all four kids started on their next Big Hole Project.
We pretty much sat in those same chairs for the next six days, watching the sun go up and down. We dined on lobster and crayfish in the evenings and porridge and coffee in the mornings. Occasionally we had a game of backgammon, a snooze, a read, a chat or a swim. One day the men folk helped with the hole while Amanda and I jumped on a moped to visit Palolem and the fabulous Spiral Ark to feed our retail habits but by 5pm we were back in our chairs again, chillaxing, L.I.I.T in hand.
The next day we went crabbing in the rocks at Colomb Beach. It was great for a couple of hours but even the kids wanted to go back to Madhu’s and The Hole. We never tried going anywhere else after that.
Agonda  is  the protection centre for rare Olive Ridley eggs. It is truly a magical place – and generations of marine turtles can’t be wrong!
Amanda and Henry’s little secret is now everybody’s little secret. But it’s Ok , they are leaving Mumbai so I feel I can tell you!

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