It is after 3 in the afternoon when I arrive at the outskirts of Aldona, a village in North Goa. I have driven down from Ponda after a visit to the temple at Tambdi Surla and am headed to Aldona for a backwater cruise. Yes, you read right. A backwater cruise in Goa. Yes, Goa. 🙂
I first read about the backwaters of Goa in this post by my fellow blogger Shivya. I was intrigued and had tucked away this piece of information in the back of my mind, not knowing that I would be headed to Goa myself in a few months. So, when I reached Goa it was only natural that I got more details from Shivya about the backwater cruise she had written about.
Enter Roberto Amaral. He’s the guy who conducts the backwater cruise, is the owner of Cancio’s House (a Bed & Breakfast place) at Aldona, and Skipper of the Lady M Luxury Yacht Charter in Goa. When I speak with him to book the cruise, Roberto is kind enough to suggest other places to visit in the vicinity — the Corjuem Fort near Aldona and also the centuries-old St. Thomas Church at Aldona. I take Roberto’s advice and head first to the Corjuem Fort.
It took me 4 trips over 27 years to come close to understanding what people say about you.
It is said that you are not just a destination or a place, but a state of mind. Rarely a day goes by without coming across a write-up about you in a newspaper or a magazine or a blog. Many of these write-ups are so gushy that it is almost embarrassing to read them. But it does reveal one thing: it was love at first visit and an almost instant attainment of that “Goa” state of mind for those who wrote the articles.
Not for me though. I visited you 4 times between 1986 and 2013, and you have always been a destination for me, and memorable for all the wrong reasons (for the first 3 trips, at least). I wasn’t impressed with you after the first trip or the second or the third trip… As for the fourth trip, we’ll come to that a little later. Let me tell you a little bit about the first three trips.
The first trip was organised by my school in December 1986. It was a road trip and I was one of the 90-odd students who travelled in 2 MSRTC buses from Pune to Goa. My recollections of that trip are largely of motion sick co-travellers and vomit all over the bus; smell of fish, wherever we went in Goa (yeah, I’m a vegetarian); a blur of church and beach visits, each one indistinguishable from the other; diarrhoea and the hunt for public toilets with water… It was a poorly organised trip and I know that you were not entirely to blame, but… I didn’t take to you at all.
The second trip happened four years later in December 1990, a mandatory field trip in my third year of college as part fulfillment for a BSc in Geology. This time I travelled by train with 20-odd classmates and 3 teachers.