After a short flight early (like very early!) in the morning, we were in Goa!
These are COVID Times- so we were given ppe kits to protect ourselves. Since the airports want as less contact with the passengers as they possibly can, boarding tickets are not handed out, which makes for a safe but chaotic experience.
We were ready to explore the sandy shores of Devbagh, a 2 hour drive from Goa. Our bus arrived on time. We got into it, stopped at Krishna restaurant for breakfast and off we went enjoying the scenic beauty (think tall swaying Coconut trees, blue waters and sloping roofs of village homes) of coastal Goa and the winding hillside as we entered Karnataka. At the border between Goa and Karnataka states, the police will check for alcohol and stuff, just telling ya….
We had to kill some time at the Jungle Resort Office as our boat that was to take us across the ocean to our resort hadn’t arrived yet. We explored the vicinity with the hot sun pressing down on us!
We climbed steps to see the beautiful and serene Durga Devi temple, with a stunning backdrop of mountains. Then we climbed even higher to see the Sadashivgad fort resort, where we were served kokum juice. We were so thankful, as some of us were parched and beginning to feel dizzy! And we climbed once again to reach the sea view point! (We’re quite an adventurous bunch you see!) and boy was I glad to have put my exhaustion aside and made the trek! The hazy views of the ocean, the hillside, boats passing by – all were absolutely breathtaking! I wanted to linger there for a while longer, but we had to make our way back down.
It was a short ride to our resort. We felt relaxed under the shade of the boat. The walk towards the lounge or the gol ghar was quite cool and sandy.
We had a good lunch of South and North Indian entrees. That’s the thing with Staying at one of the Jungle lodges, you don’t have to go around looking for good food. Everything… Snacks and tea/coffee and 3 meals are all included when you pay for the stay.
We slept like logs in the afternoon as we hadn’t slept much the night before, plus there isn’t much to be done on a beach when it is hot under the sun.
Beverages and Biscuits were served right beside the ocean in the evenings, Can you imagine that?!
Kids and adults alike enjoyed dipping and splashing about in the water. Kids took to water like Fish to the ocean! I was quite reluctant to get in, not wanting to get my new dress dirty, but the sight of the water and everyone else having a good time was so tempting, I told myself, damn my dress or having to clean up all our messes later, I was going to go home without any regrets!
I did have a great time!
If we weren’t in the water whenever we could, we hung about on hammocks, which were everywhere, napping or reading. It was hilarious (and painful) to watch some of us losing balance and falling off them!
And kids spent hours on the trampoline or the outdoor Rope courses hung between trees. We didn’t have to keep an eye on them all the time or entertain them as there was no time to be bored on our 3-day visit!
Our nights began with bonfire and snacks. Imagine eating barbecued veggies, potato fries or pakoras in the dark with the ocean lapping (more like lashing) at you, your feet sunk in soft sand, twinkling lights far away…. it couldn’t have been more magical!
I simply wanted to enjoy the quiet sounds of nature, but some of us had other plans. They wanted to play antakshari. We ‘competed’ with another group of visitors. They were a good sport too. We sang and sang and nobody lost, so we ended the game to have a quiet dinner, again by the ocean.
Prasad and I sat outside our cottage early in the mornings, listening to the sound of the ocean, sipping the coffee he would prepare for me. It was the best feeling ever as I wrote away and he sat in silence, both of us lost in our happy places!
On our first morning there, we went for a nature walk with the naturalist, Mr. Dilkush (a gentle old man, who was affectionately called so by everyone). As the case with most of our hikes in jungles, we learnt so much about the natural habitat we had come to explore. We learnt that we were on a peninsula and not an island and that it was about 90 acres size, and a 5 acres area was allotted by the Government of Karnataka to Jungle Lodges to build the resort.
Here we listened to Dilkush elaborating the medicinal values of plants like Sarpagandha, explaining the reason for the high biodiversity of the mangroves of Maavinaholla. Even though we have visited many mangrove vegetations, never had I seen such sharp breathing roots everywhere. We learnt to identify the loud, throaty calls of White-bellied Sea Eagles and enjoyed the sight of a Pond Heron lazing around (she is aptly described as ‘Gundiya Rani’). I had no clue that we shared the same state bird with Karnatake (Blue Jay)!
It was a nice hour and a half walk around the resort. And then we had a great breakfast. I loved the paranthas with chole. And then we were off on a boat for dolphin safari. I could doze off on the choppy waters of Arabian sea as the boat sped by. It was that soothing. There was hardly anything to see but deserted islands like Sanyasi island, the Koormagad (Shaped like a turtle) or an island that looked like an elephant bathing in water!
We spotted a couple of dolphins that quickly sprang into the ocean before we could get an eyeful. We decided to do the tour and try our luck once again the next day. (This was included with our accommodation, so why not?!)
After the safari we tried a lot of water sports (Now this was not part of the package and they were all quite pricey, so we had to be careful!). I tried jet ski and banana boat. Jet ski was quite scary. I thought I would be thrown off the seat of my ski, so I held onto my dear life (or the lifeguard, rather!). I thought banana boat would be more scarier, where we would be tossed into the ocean, but it was ok. I actually enjoyed the feeling of anticipation of waiting for the cue to let go off our banana tube, the motor boat pulling us making a sharp turn and us being thrown into water! Who knew I had any ounce of daredevilry in me! Even the kids tried all of this! They wanted to enjoy every little bit!
The next day We had fun playing throwball cum volleyball at the beach in the morning.
Then we went for the dolphin tour. No luck once again. It was high tide, so we were tossed about on our boat. I was sprayed with salty water the whole time. It was a roller coaster ride for sure.
We went for a hike to kaalimitti in the evening. First we walked a gravel path to a village beside the resort, hopped onto autorickshaws, drove a long time passing through villages where I enjoyed peeking into the homes of locals, all the while the seductive coastline to our left tempting us to take a dip in!
It was a moderate hike. We climbed up a hillock and went down it and climbed across black stones to reach a small cove with black sand and water. It was difficult for some of us but we all managed somehow.
On our return we came via a different route, a little easier, but this one involved wading through water for a part of the journey!
It was nice to play in that water and watch the local kids playing cricket on the shore. But we were quite tired by the time we reached our resort.
The last night was bittersweet for me as I wanted to savor every bit of the time spent with my family and friends by the bonfire, the ocean ceaselessly continuing its journey in and out of the shoreline of Devbagh, not caring who had come to visit or who was leaving.
I didn’t want my vacation to end.
I looked around and wondered how everyone else was OK with leaving this beautiful place behind. I was crying inside like a baby! I didn’t want to go back to my daily routine! But we had to… The chaos at Goa Airport where it looked like almost the whole of India had turned up, didn’t make it any easier on us!
Every beginning has an end just as every end ushers in a new beginning….
Here’s to more traveling and exploring and learning and living in 2021… Thanks for being with us all these years, dear readers…
(Before leaving, we shopped a bit in Margao, a city in Goa (Zantye’s is awesome for Dry fruits and other Goan snacks) and had a fabulous lunch at Antique Mardol, close to airport)