Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Agonda, Goa.

As some of you might have noticed, for about a week now there has been no news from David and I. As some of you have probably imagined, it's because we have reached a destination where our pace has finally slowed down to the point where days bleed into each other seamlessly and it has become hard to spend time in front of a computer. Welcome to Agonda.

(A view of Agonda as we approached it.)

Our last entry was from Benalium, which we understood to be one of the most beautiful and quiet beaches in Goa. Luckly, we were wrong. On the third day of our stay there, David, Brian and Ben went off on a scooter expedition to explore furhter South. They came back right at sunset full of excitement about a new spot which made Benalium look like a rock-n-roll party: Agonda, a 3 km beach about 1 hour South of where we were staying.

The next day we left Blue Corner and made our way here, and David and I have not left since (Brian, Ben, and Sarah left two days ago, together with 2 other friends, in order to explore the party scene in North Goa - Arambol, Baga, etc. - but David and I will meet with them again in Goa's capital, Panaji, in a couple of days.)

To give you a sense of the beach and our accomodation, here are some images:

(Empty beach. I don't have better images unfortunately, but this gives a good idea. )

(Harmony Huts: our place is the furthest to your right. These huts have shared bathrooms, which is why we are only paying 330 rupees per night, about $7. It's wonderful falling asleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. It's a little less wonderful being woken by the crawking ravens that live on the trees all around us. They begin screaming loudly at each other around 6.30am every day without fail. As the owner of the huts put it, these are huts that won't let you be lazy: they'll wake you nice and early so that you do you morning meditation... we live in sentient huts.)

(David relaxing on our porch. This is how we sometime spend the warmest hours of the day, 12p-4pm.)

After a couple of days of Agonda, we all rented scooter and went on little explorations further South. On our first day, we visited Palolem, hailed as a great beach resort. After our Agonda paradise, Palolem was a bit of a shock. To give you an idea, the roads leading to Agonda beach look like this:

The road leading to Palolem, like this:

Another example: in Agonda there's an endless number of little restaurants facing the beach, all with menus that could easily compete with the variety of food you find in New York - Indian, Nepali (lots of Nepali chefs!) Thai, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Goan, Israeli and more! I have refused to try any of the Italian dishes, but the Indian, Nepali and Thai food that I have had here so far has been delicious! Here's a picture of one of our favorite spots, Sandyfeet:

In Palolem, the restaurant we tried served really "interesting" food (made what we were having in Benalium seem tasty!). The whole scene there is much more commercial and generally busy. And the beach is 100 times busier than Agonda:

(Before all the restaurants/huts/tourist shops were there, Palolem must have been really beautiful. It's a smaller beach than Agonda, better protected from the currents and full of green palms. We hope Agonda won't undergo the same commercialization, although it seems inevitable.)

Apart from the general shock of the contrast with Agonda, here's a nice shot of part of our group having a drink at a "raggae bar" in Palolem:

(From the left: Sarah, Brian, Oeud, Theo, Brian.)

As well as of Sarah and I with a great Shiva background:

As well as of the dense "forest" of palm trees growing along the beach:

Our scooter exploration did not stop in Palolem. For the next two days, David and I travelled along beautiful roads that followed the sea and some internal rivers. We discovered a beach where turtles lay their eggs, and enjoyed our long rides always wearing our super helmets:

(A little parenthesis on helmets: in India, the law demands that only the driver wear a helmet. As a result, when you rent a scooter, you will only receive a single helmet. Accidents are not really something anyone is thinking about. In any case, David had to wrestle a tiger to get me one. They are more like motorbike helmets than scooter ones, but we were definitely Safe.)

When we came to the turtle beach, David and Sarah posed for me in triumph for our discovery:

The roads around Agonda were mostly empty and easy to ride on:

That was really good, especially for Sarah who bravely decided to take on a scooter without ever having driven (anything!) before. Here's a hot shot of Ben and Sarah attacking a curb (Sarah is on the right):

The only time it's actually tricky to drive is when you go through little villages. There, you find the more familiar Indian chaos:

In our rides we encountered many rice paddies, the green of the fresh sprouts oh so irresistible to the camera:

We also crossed a tiny little bridge that looked over a beautiful river coming from deep in the mainland:

(David on our vehicle on the tiny little bridge.)

(Beautiful river coming from deep in the mainland.)

So there it is, a little update on our lazy doings of the past week. David and I have been getting up early every morning - together with our friends the ravens - and doing our yoga practice on the beach, right by the water. In some ways, it's hard to imagine leaving. As Sarah said, being in weather like this reminds you that as a species, human beings began in warm climate. What were we thinking when we moved up North?!?! The peace of Agonda is really something special, and we are enjoying every day of it. Soon, however, we will be moving onwards: to Panaji, the capital of Goa, and then to the state of Karnataka, where we will visit Hempi and Mysore. For now, goodbye . We will post again from a new destination.


  1. Dear David and Bici,
    AH! I love thinking of you two in this most beautiful place in the world that i hold so dear. I am ever more in awe of this enlightened decision to spend this amount of time there, and i look forward to being in India, or some other wonderful South Asian country together in the future.
    I wanted to pass along the contact information of a very dear friend of mine in Goa. She is a beautiful, dakini like woman, whose mere drag of a beedhi will make you love her. She lives in a beautiful bungalo in Goa that literally makes me quiver to think of how absolutely palacial and beautiful it is. Call her for a drink, or a meal, or a yoga lesson. She is a wonderful person and i feel strongly you all would get along quite well. If you see them, give them a big hug and kiss from me.
    Love thinking and hearing about how you are doing. Lots of love,

    her contact info is:

    Aneeto & Nick Manvill
    Not sure if the email still works, but definitely worth trying the phone number.

    Phone: (0832) 227 9849

    Casa Manolita

    Sequiero Vaddo

    Candolim Bardez, Goa


  2. You're right about Palolem being a beautiful place many years ago. It was for many years, but in a fairly short time turned into the mess that it is. I can only hope that Agonda's Panchayat can keep growth under control. The onus is on the traveller visiting Agonda as well - if you want parties & raves then go and stay in Palolem. For peace and quiet, and a graceful low key local visit is what you want, then think about Agonda - but to be selfish, hopefully not many.