Goa – The backyard binge

Remember as a kid when your backyard transformed into a land unexplored?… where adventure and discovery awaited with every new corner and at every new sight?

As a kid, we were blessed to spend a few months every year in Kerala (India) where the backyards extended into acres of mystery and magic- we spent hours climbing trees, finding new camp sites for our secret club and discovering all kinds of species of bugs, birds and bandicoots!

Life takes over and you have to grow out of all that but somewhere that sense of thrill still remains! And this time, in Goa, we rediscovered that!

Indus rider and its founder Arvind Prabhakar are dedicated to open up the experience of Goa and its true culture to the traveler that can tear away from the sun, sand, seafood and experience an all new Goa- the Goan susegad way of life.

Arvind has a very contagious mischief about him. Its like, as a kid, when you met that friend for the first time and knew instantly that this was going to be fun! Goa holds very close to Arvind’s heart and biking even more so… so the idea of island hopping in Goa on motor bikes was a win-win all the way.

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Our stay at Aldona– a village in Goa was at a traditional Portuguese house which is now run as a home stay- the only olive. The high ceiling, archways, wooden steps leading to the attic, the red oxide benches, the easy chairs and the serenity of the sounds of the village life was the perfect appetizer to our “all you can explore” biking binge.

 

Saddled up on our motor bikes all excited to island hop, we met Aroo (AKA Arvind Prabhakar) at the Corjeum bridge where he briefed us about the tour. The 3 ferries and 7 islands motor bike tour was all about discovering the many islands from Old Goa to Aldona via the ferry network that was once probably the only means of transport that connected all these islands on the Mapusa river.

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Our first stop was the abandoned ferry of Corjeum. Under the shade of the trees, Aroo’s stories took us in time to the days when Goa depended solely on these networks and how life was lived, life changed and life is today.

We were joined by Atul, a wildlife conservationist working with otters in the mangroves of Goa through an NGO known as wildotters. It was amazing to learn so much more about a species that I honestly didn’t even know existed in Goa! The work done by Atul and the NGO to create a coexistence between human and wildlife was commendable and the otter stories were extremely entertaining and informative. Although I tried really  hard, I couldn’t spot any otters in the mangrove!

Ferry with Sherry (my travel buddy), every time we hopped on one was the tagline of our trip! The flat bottomed ferries run like clockwork, maneuvering the tides, keeping the romance of wading from island to island whilst soaking in the beauty of the river.

We rode on and off ferries, through winding roads flanked with golden fields and lotus ponds all the while taking pit stops to listen to more stories. There were old forgotten churches, houses that had seen many generations and old banyan trees that witnessed history unfold.

We biked through the islands of Oulalim, Nachinola, Pomburpa, Charao and onto another abandoned ferry port at Narao. We sat like school kids listening intently and in awe of Aroo’s knowledge of the history of Goa and the passion with which he made us relive it. The abandoned boats, the mangroves and the occasional canoe passing by added the perfect backdrop to kindle our imagination as we took in the stories of the Adil Shahs, the African slaves, the Sardesai’s and the adventures of Afonso de Albuquerque. I would have taken down notes had I known that there was a quiz at lunch time!

Lunch was a welcome break as we chugged down some chilled Kings beer at a local restaurant called the Bradlee’s that served authentic Goan cuisine.

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After a good round of “who was paying attention” quiz, we hopped back onto our bikes and headed to the famous Diwar Island. Here, through winding roads we rode uphill to the site where the church of Diwar or the Church of our lady of compassion overlooking the Mandovi river. Quiet and serene the river paid homage as it passed by the stately looking church and the gong of its bell. The sun softened and sparkled like stars on the river as we breathed in the beauty of this beautiful Goan backyard.

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At the end of the tour we had made a good friend and learnt a lot more about a place that we used to only see as a beach get away. Our love for Goa, its people and its culture had found new depths.

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