After a week in India much of which, it has to be said, with heads in toilets, we though we’d focus here on our arrival in Goa and some of the sights and sounds that greeted us.
The initial surprise and joy from discovering all the drinks on our 9pm flight from Heathrow to Mumbai were gratis was met with paralleled dismay as we sludged our way through a hot arrival lounge. Hungover and on no sleep!
The domestic flight to Goa was a much more civil affair and within an hour of take-off me and Hannah had completed the first leg of our indulgent adventure. Arriving at 4pm local time roughly 24 hours after setting off from glorious Tamworth.
At this point I was running on fumes and the 45 minute queue to grab the 2 hour taxi to our booked accommodation in Mandrem (North Goa) wasn’t helping. Thankfully though all was about to change once our driver picked up our job and we said good riddance to the airport. Hopefully these words will shed some light…
Vivid colours burst into view. Red, orange, green purple and an array of brown. We roll down the windows and the smells intoxicate the nose, thick and rich.
Cars and mopeds, rasping and wheezing, flood the busy road testing their horns at every opportunity. There seems to be no rules.
We soon rid ourselves of the airport mess and the road winds north towards Mandrem. Our driver, born in Goa and proud, sniffs as he tackles the rush hour traffic with apathy.
The sun is setting. Melting through the trees. We pass huge, empty, rusted fishing tankers and men pausing their journeys to piss against the side of their cars.
We cross the Zwari River, epic and vast, leading out into the Arabian Sea. A man plays Candy Crush as he passes us on the back on the back of a moped.
Coconut sellers rest their feet on chairs, awaiting thirsty tourists. Children circle a cow in a luscious field within the shadows of a Portuguese Manor House.
My eyes widen as senses become overwhelmed. But the pace somehow feels slow and the locals’ temperament seems relaxed.
Smoke and dust cloud the road as traffic thickens and birds of prey circle overhead. A bottle of Coke gives us the energy to cope with the attack.
Stumbling chit-chat turns to Indian radio and the sweet rhythm of a foreign duet.
A police checkpoint does little to dampen the spirits of our driver. He pushes through the whord.
The traffic frustrates us all and doesn’t let up. Soon, brave traffic police light the road with their fluorescent batons. I haven’t slept in 36 hours.
Hannah silently drifts off next to me. Her “Never Sleep” t-shirt a mocking reminder of the sleep I never got.
Morjim town comes to us over another Zwari bridge, a neon Kingfisher sign lights the path.
The traffic clears as the road widens. Sporadic fires burn into the night filling the air with white sage and charcoal.
Christmas lights and nativity vigils dart into vision. We narrowly avoid a crash thanks to our drivers quick feet. Hannah is awake now.
We push through Morjim backstreets. Hairdressers, cake shops, Shopkeepers. More mopeds.
Our driver makes a call to confirm our address. We stop suddenly arriving on Mandrem Beach. We’re dazed, grateful and ready to eat.
The journey was 56 km in roughly 2 hours. 1,600 Rupees (£16)