Monday, 30 January 2017

Friends, Families and Fierce Beasts


Recently we had a visit from our “spice boys” (because they sell spices at the markets)– whose homes and families we visited a short while back. It was great to see Mano (John), Sachin, Akash and Jitesh ……….


……. and they had a great time in the swimming pool while they were with us!


We had an invitation from friends Dev and Rajaa to meet up with them and some of their new guests at (one of our favourite haunts) the bar at the Calangute Fish Market. Sue, Bryn, Dermot, Daniel, Rajaa, Doug and Dev enjoying a right good evening!


Something that we’d been looking forward to for quite a while – friends Louise and John (nb Ploddin Along) came out from England for a couple of weeks holiday with us. As they hadn’t been to India before it was our job to familiarise them with some of the experiences Goa has to offer. This particular experience was the Betim to Panjim ferry; famous for the total chaos which ensues at either end of the crossing when everyone tries to get on before anyone else has got off! Here’s John (centre) on his scooter during the relative calm of the river crossing.


We took John and Louise up to Aguada Fort, which is close to where we’re staying. Perched on the last bit of land on the Siquerim peninsular, it’s popular for the views across both land and sea and not so popular for the extreme heat which seems to be concentrated by the stone and it’s sheltered position. Louise, John and Doug.


Next on our list of very enjoyable experiences was Ryan’s 40th birthday party at his shack on the beach. He spared no expense in giving his invited customers and friends a really good time. Free bar and food and great music to dance to (of course, it’s Ryans we’re talking about!). Here’s Ryan with his beautiful wife Rupee.


And here he is eating (and wearing!) some of his birthday cake!


Ryan’s hospitality also extended to fireworks and a fire juggler ………..


….. and, of course, his great music to dance to.


We regularly get visits from our barber friends Asraf and Talib after they finish work (at the somewhat late hour of midnight! Here’s Talib, on one occasion, making himself comfortable with an ice cream and free Wi Fi! (They really are a scream!)


Our next adventure with Louise and John was an overnight cruise on the Chapora River. We arrived to the jetty to find a 93 year old man offloading aggregate from his dug-out. Wow!


From the jetty we were transferred, by dingy, to our lovely Goan wicker boat “Laidback Waters”. We enjoyed the same boat on the last occasion and loved it so much we made sure we had the same boat again for Louise and John.


After unpacking a few things we the six of us aboard met on the lovely upper deck for evening drinks. Here’s James, Geraldine, (captain) Ramesh, Louise and John. “Gerry’s husband, John, as behind the camera.


We motored down to the mouth of the Chapora River for the sunset over the Arabian Sea  …….


…. with a walkabout on the beach where turtles nest every spring. Louise, John, Doug, Guru and John.


This is the very pretty “Laidback Waters” which houses three double cabins with en-suite showers rooms.


That evening we enjoyed a simple but tasty Indian meal and exchanged conversation with John and “Gerry”, the other two guests aboard for the cruise.


The next morning we were up at 7am to witness the sunrise and enjoy the calm of the early morning.


We watched the fishing boats chug past and disappear into the mist as they headed out to sea.


The sun rose above the trees across the river …..


…. and provided a sensational backdrop to the river scenes as they unfolded in front of us.


We ‘set sail’ up the river with John taking the helm and Doug and Louise relaxing and enjoying the tranquillity.


The river and it’s banks held all sorts of flora and fauna but the highlight for us was this incredible 3 metre long crocodile …….


…… basking in the sunshine with it’s enormous mouth open.


As we slowed the boat for a longer view the awesome creature slipped into the water – really showing us it’s true length and bulk. This was, indeed,a real treat for us as these sightings are not guaranteed.


The river is very wide, with various islands and backwaters and the whole ambience is of calm, relaxed drifting.


There were herds of Water Buffalo grazing along the banks but these were deep in the water.


Fishermen work the river in their dugout canoes …..


…. and the banks are lined with individual, artisan houses and larger fishing boats.


The fish caught in the river are traded at local fish markets next to the water.


Not all river craft are traditional and propelled by paddles. This monster is a 60mph missile powered by two 90 hp engines.


Our fantastic river trip ended all too soon – here’s us with the captain Ramesh.


Getting back ‘home’ to Candolim we experienced quite high winds one evening. Wave damage overnight took away half the beach! Ryan’s patch in front of his shack had just enough left to put his sunbeds out!


On Sunday, leaving John and Louise to have a day on their own, we took up a very kind invitation to meet up with a friend (and P&O wine waiter) Julie and her husband Patrick (another P&O waiter!) at their beautiful home in Assonora. It was to be a family celebration for their nephew Nathan’s first Holy Communion.


As in all these wonderful Indian family occasions there was the formal side with Nathan cutting his cake …….


……. and being fed the first piece ……..


….. and always much fun and laughter.


We felt very privileged, yet again, to be invited to a friend’s house and to meet the family. Here’s Doug with Julie – it was just so great to catch up with her and Patrick again.


As an aside to the celebrations, James was very interested to see Patrick’s pride and joy - his customized Mahindra ‘jeep’.


Patrick suggested he take us for a trip to the top of the nearby mountain. And, joy of joys, he offered James a drive of it “off road”! An offer he could not refuse!


At the top of the mountain we had spectacular views across the Goan countryside. Patrick and Doug here with an amazing backdrop behind.


At the top of the mountain is the beautiful little chapel of St Michael The Archangel. Now perfectly restored from a very poor state.


The restoration of the chapel had to be so extensive that that the Sanctorium had to completely rebuilt but the alter and it’s ornate covering survived and has been beautifully renovated.    


After visiting the chapel we had the exciting return journey back down the mountain track in Patrick’s ‘Tonka Toy’.


This was our view from the jeep on one of the good bits of road back down the mountain. Patrick told us that in the evenings in this area wild Peacocks gather to graze. Sadly we were too early to see any but our day with Julie, Patrick and their family, the awesome ride in the jeep and the visit to the mountain top chapel were truly an unforgettable experience. 

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