We book one night ahead on booking.com then choose somewhere to move onto in person. We got a taxi to Agonda from Colva (about an hour), we could have got a bus but I needed the journey to be as fast and as comfortable as possible. It was a wonderful journey, through small towns and villages, past tree covered mountains (possibly hills, but coming from super flat Norfolk, England, they look like mountains to me) and lots and lots of cows some with big curly horns (I love cows). All the windows were down and the car was filled with a lovely breeze.
And then we were in Agonda. Agonda and Colva are as different as Southwold and Great Yarmouth (for UK readers only sorry). We arrived too early to check in (we had got up early to travel before it got really hot) so we went and sat in one of the many beach front bar/restaurants and had breakfast (toast and ginger tea).
Whearas in Colva and in Delhi I had been marooned in a hot hotel room during the hottest part of the day (which is most of the day, to be honest), here I realised I could be ‘outside’ (under shade) and with the breeze blowing in off the sea it was entirely bearable. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Earlier that day in the hot hotel room in Colva I had envisioned months of being shut in a room all day. Good for writing productivity, but there are limits. I had been very apprehensive of going to India, or anywhere in South East Asia, at this time. Most people go to India between November and February, when it is not so hot. But if we’re going to be out for a year, we are going to be in the hottest time at some point. And we had to go when we could go, i.e. when the house sold, and with all the obstacles that the matrix seemed to put up I wasn’t inclined to wait a moment longer to leave.
Agonda is touristy, but in a palm trees, beautiful sandy beach, luxury holiday look kind of way. The beach is long and framed at each end by green lush tree covered mountains (?hills). Our beach hut had a veranda that was shaded and cool enough to sit out on even in the middle of the day. The owner said, don’t worry that it’s hot inside in the day, at night it will be okay. And it was. It was the first time I had slept under a mosquito net. We would have happily stayed there but it was fully booked, so my husband went off and found us an (even better!) place. Up high, reached from some steps, more space in the room, and a big cool veranda shaded with palm trees. And right on the beach. We are staying here for two weeks.
I was so relieved to unpack (I am such a homebody, but can make myself at home easily too), and do things like cut my nails and wax my face and floss my teeth properly. (I still haven’t shaved my legs yet though, if I put it off much longer I’ll need a lawnmower.)
The beach huts are amazing. I had imagined beach huts like we get in English seaside towns, but these are more like wooden chalets, with proper washrooms and everything, and the incredible thing is that they aren’t allowed to stay here permanently so they get dismantled at the end of April. I wondered how they go about that, do they label all the bits, or do they just know? I struggle to remember how to put my tent up once a year.
I once wrote an utterly heartfelt review on Amazon for Eat Pray Love, my bible for many years. I had read that book seven times, written notes in it, folded over almost every page… I knew I was genuine, so when someone commented, ‘This review is as pretentious as the book itself,’ it only made me laugh rather than hurt my feelings.
The first day here I did a bit of yoga out on the veranda (too hot indoors), using a rug from in the room, and then without even thinking about it just dropped into meditation, sitting half against the door jamb, resting after a set of one of those super strong hip opener poses (sleeping swan, half pigeon?), pulling the ends of the rug so as to buffer my ankle bones from the wooden floor. I adjusted my position to be straight against the wall, but otherwise I was right there, for quite a while, despite the fact that I haven’t meditated for ages.
This wasn’t meditation aimed at or coming from a religious or spiritual angle, although it would probably be best described by the Buddhist meditation ‘Just sitting’, because I did nothing other than just check in with myself, deep inside. And what I noticed was fear. Fearful breathing, anyway, which I took to mean there’s fear there, or that fear is the thing going on for me, deep inside. I had recently, possibly even only the day before, read a blog post by Alexander Bell about how if you calm your breathing so it isn’t fearful, then you won’t feel fear. Try as I might though, my breathing remained shallow, tight, almost painful, and seemed to get worse the more I focussed on it. So I remembered what the post had said about if you have a pounding heartbeat, just observe it, and observing it will naturally calm it. I didn’t have a pounding heartbeat, but I used this approach for my breathing, and eventually, at last, I broke through to a place where I felt at peace, no fear. As often used to happen to me in meditation, images came to mind; me opening a door, only to drop down an empty lift shaft and arrive, on a seat, in a room, and then again, somewhere different.
We’ve done a lot of moving about, and I’m a real homebody as I said. I’ve hardly even been on holiday, and coupled with the pre leaving stress, it’s not surprising there’s fear in me. And of course I’ve been sick, but then tummies are emotional too aren’t they?
(Just in case I sound pretentious here, writing about doing yoga and meditating on a beach hut veranda in Goa, please know that I did this on the train from Norwich to Nottingham (the meditation) and yoga in any hotel room I’ve been in with work in the UK using a towel or a jumper.)
We’ve had three nights here, and each day I have got up at 6.30 or 7am, had a paddle and a walk on the beach, a walk to the shops before it gets too hot, before retreating to the balcony/indoors for a siesta until the evening. This is much better than sleeping late as you get to experience more time outside. Also the beach in the morning is amazing, with incredible (must be teachers) people doing yoga, it is awesome what they can do with their bodies.
For my part, a short walk in the waves and/or a few stretches in the afternoon is all I can manage at present. Today is day seven of traveller’s diarrhoea and today my husband took a Tuk Tuk to Palolem to go to the chemist and came back with gut flora and strong antibiotics for me. He has looked after me all the way through and apart from the first night in Delhi when I went out to buy fruit and this morning when I went to the very nearby shops to buy water, juice and crisps (rehydration, sugars and salts) and fresh local bananas (potassium), I haven’t done anything on my own. I also haven’t always been that nice, and I am realising how much I hurt my husband’s feelings when I get annoyed about stuff he has or hasn’t said or done, when all he is doing is looking after me. But I don’t often know until later what it is I am unhappy about, and then I struggle to express it. I tend to come across as annoyed when in fact I am feeling overwhelmed or vulnerable, I just don’t like to admit it.
A couple of times recently, if I’d stopped and thought about it, I could have said, that’s a great idea but I can’t manage that just yet. Or, actually, can you come with me, I’d rather not be on my own. In that way I am literally like a chicken, they are prey animals, therefore they don’t show their vulnerabilities. I don’t like to feel, let alone admit to, feelings of pressure/ inability to deliver, shame, or fear of abandonment. In other ways I am like a child, if I get sad my tummy hurts more, and I’ll seek comfort and attention by describing my physical ailments. We are both much worse and much better than we realise, is a Buddhist quote I read about becoming more aware of ourselves. India has a lot to teach me, which is good, because I have a lot to learn.
My husband has just started doing a vlog, if you want to check it out here is the link.
Thank you very much for reading!
Lots of love