In the very last days of December it seemed like a good idea to exchange the B/W reality of Helsinki to full technicolor world. And about fifty centigrades increase in temperature would do nicely, too. So we chose Goa as our winter holiday destination with our life long friends from Copenhagen, Merete and Shay. New year’s eve in Goa’s Baga Beach. Loads of teen testosterone (only young men on the go!), full blast electronic music and fireworks. And with all that, everything went through rather peacefully. I met Yos in Helsinki last autumn. He’s been travelin in and out of India for over 10 years. We agreed to meet in Goa in January. Found him at his Goan home in Anjuna.
At Baga beach outside Xavier’s shack we met Naim, or ”Mikko” as he is known among the Finnish tourists. Mikko speaks good Finnish and arranged us a driver for one of our trips. Here’s a picture of him and his wife taken back home in their village in Maharashtra. Someone told us that the name of Goa has something to do with cows. Might be true. There sure are plenty of those around.
Cola Beach in the southern part of Goa is about the closest I ever got to a paradise beach. Beautiful, clean and quiet. Great accomodations, simple and comfortable. Falling asleep and waking up to the sound of waves was a welcome change to the constant boom boom soundtrack of the more populated northern beaches. Boys helping their father to prepare the nets for night fishing at Cola-Beach. Fishermen returning with the night’s catch. They have to make do with whatever is left after the big trawlers have harvested the coast. Three days trip to the state of Karnataka and the ancient city of Hampi gave another perspective to India. The train journey takes 8 hours each direction, but it is an exotic experience in itself. The colourful medley of the other passengers on board, changing landscapes and the constant parade of vendors keep you entertained all the way. The temples of Hampi are unique and beautiful. Built and carved in the local granite they stand along the great valley surrounded by rocks and hills. A small river adds a ribbon of blue among the red and black hues of the stone. My second visit to this place after almost 10 years was sure worth it. The guard in one of the temples allowed me to photograph her hands. Can a bus get any more colourful?
Cashew is one of Goa’s symbols. This strange nut grows attached to the bottom of the cashew apple, outside the fruit. The fruit itself is used to produce the famous Goan spirit Feni. In India most people seem to like to be photographed. Here a group of schoolboys are posing for Shay. The Artjuna cafe restaurant’s chef, Nadav Shir has traveled the world and India for 12 years. Artjuna is such a pleasant place and the food so good, that we ended up eating there many times. Here Nadav prepares our veggie lasagna. East meets west in Goa. The Kerala-type houseboats are a relatively new feature in Goa. This one was built in the traditional way by people from Kerala. It has three cabins and takes only six passengers at a time. We spent 24 luxurious hours on board enjoying good food and drinks, beautiful riverside landscapes and all the singing and soaring birds around.
Well… just to make sure the experience would not be too idyllic, some hotel started another loud technomusic party at midnight very close to the place where we achored for the night. Our houseboat, Laid Back Waters.
Our captain Ramesh. Kingfisher, probably the best known Goan brandname. Goa’s fish markets have a great selection of seafood. King fish, barracudas, sharks, red snappers, squids, shrimps…