Panjim seems to represent the great divide. Some of the coastal areas further north (particularly Baga and Calangute) have got awfully busy in recent years. Visitors throng the beaches even on weekends during the off-season. South Goa, fortunately, has been largely spared the invasion of the crowds. The stretch south of Cansaulim continues to be rather pleasant, expect for a spot or two around Colva, perhaps. The two kilometres south of Cavelossim mark the end of 'South Goa'. The River Sal and its broad estuary house an extensive marine and avian ecosystem. A boat trip along the river is a truly memorable experience.
South Goa overall, and Cavelossim even more so, is refreshingly free of domestic visitors of the kind sometimes seen in Baga and often seen in Calangute that seem to specialize in group exercises that include excessive drinking, littering and ogling. The Cavelossim area is remarkably quiet from this perspective and is generally free of water sports, as well. A clutch of about 30 shacks populates the beach stretch around and north of the Leela and Holiday Inn.
Heading north, you could, if you wish, stroll all the way to Cansaulim, and perhaps up to Bogmalo and Dabolim where the airplanes land and take off, a distance of over 30 km. An extremely interesting thought it is, to stroll at least up to Utorda or Arossim. Isn't it magical the way the wet reflections of the "walkers" quietly get absorbed by the sand?
One of the enduring - and endearing - memories of Goa is that of splashing along the water's edge, for hours. Splash-splash, splash-splash. Splash-splash, splash-splash. Almost without a care in the world. I use the word 'almost' because there are a few 'cares' in Goa that can get fairly significant. For example: in which beach shack do we eat our next meal? How on earth do we choose from the typically large variety being offered on the menu?
Should the walk get too introspective, interesting diversions are always a possibility. Getting thrown into the sea is an effective way of getting rid of any sleep that may dare to follow a heavy meal at a beach shack.
Ah yes, a definite alternative to walking 30 km is to cycle 30 km. Maybe this could be attempted shortly?
After several kilometres of intentionally aimless wandering up and down Cavelossim, it's time to head to one of the beach shacks for a well earned rest. We decided to take a look at 'Fat Willy's' shack located about five or shacks south of the lane as you step on the beach. Time to research a menu, one of our favourite activities in Goa. Phew..!! Life does get hard, sometimes.
We did not find 'Fat Willy' inside the shack. Instead, we saw 'Cool Willy' who was incessantly talking and instructing the other lads. 'Happy Willy' was a multifaceted personality, being PR and Sales and Order processing and Delivery and Customer support all rolled in one. Finally, there was 'Busy Willy' from the kitchen who peeped out now and then and hurried back inside. (With apologies to the Traveling Wilburys.)
Glancing quickly at the length of the shadows outside, I wonder whether it's time for one of the fermented, fruit fortified health drinks yet. I settle for a black coffee, instead. Since fermentation adds sugar and calories, tea and coffee drinks on my menu turned sugar-less and black in colour several years ago.
A few shops line the lane leading down to the beach. Colourful t-shirts, hats, cooling glasses, bags and other gear are on display, looking for potential buyers. The store keepers are not at all intrusive.
One of the stores had rows of teas on display, including green teas of different flavours. Green tea. Green-mint tea. Green-orange tea. Anything remotely green by way of teas quickly catches my eye. Good for health, I have been told. I felt a magical attraction toward the tea store and was about to step in. Almost immediately I heard three words spoken in a terse tone: "Don't you dare!". The effort was minimum while the effectiveness was maximum. I felt an instantaneous, powerful magnetic force pushing me away from the store. I explained apologetically to the gentleman inside that the Home Minister has decreed otherwise. He was sympathetic, even philosophical, as he consoled me saying, "At least you tried, didn't you? That's the least we can do". We? We! Well, I quickly understood. He gets it!
Reflecting back a couple of seasons ago, to December 2012 to be precise, I recalled memories of the mouth of the River Sal being quite busy, with boats ferrying people and things up and down the river. And across the river. The colours of the late afternoon son had added a magical air to the busy time of day.
Recent news has it that a bridge has since been built across the river and that the ferry service across to Asolna has been stopped. We located the bridge. It's quite inland, not at the romantic, picturesque spot that I had imagined it to be at. You can go down the lane from the large Church. The bridge is a 10 to 15 minute walk from that point. Or, if you choose to go down the lane past the D'Mello Chemist store, it would again be a walk down a rather narrow, twisting road that appeared to be more dangerous than busy. Whoosh. Whoosh. Peep. Peep. Beep. Beep. Dodge. Dodge. In fact, it can get dangerous and unpleasant to walk over to the new bridge. It may be a good idea to ride or drive. The plaque informed us that the bridge had been inaugurated in March 2014.
Peering down from the walkway by the side of the bridge, I noticed a fisherman quietly trying his luck.
The sight from up there is quite pretty. The orange light of the setting sun draws patterns of light and shadow on the water as the breeze creates little ripples.
A group of ladies from a nearby village stride very purposefully over the bridge as they seem to be heading home.
It beats me why the four ladies have to risk their lives by walking on the road, oblivious to traffic zipping by them. They looked neither left nor right nor back. Singleness of purpose. Home do we go. Walkways have been thoughtfully built on both sides of the road. It's not as if they would drop into the river mid way across. I concluded that the ladies are perhaps continuing to imagine that it is the ferry that they are using. All you need to do is to step on to the boat.
"Cannon to right of them, cannon to left of them, volleyed and thundered."
Meanwhile, oblivious to the little crowd that had gathered to admire the sunset, and the four ladies all but getting run over, the sun continued its journey down having warmed the earth with its generous rays, witness to another day that has been ticked off on our calendars.
While the gentleman fished below the bridge using a single rod, this gentleman has tied several slender, nylon ropes to the iron railing of the bridge. He has tied bait to the end of the ropes. In the technology world, this mechanism would be referred to as 'multi-threading'.
The sun does not have too far to go now. What appears to be bat nests are propped up on the water by a partly submerged tree, lit up by the sun.
Junior has been very busy all evening. The setting sun, ripples of water and the clouds have kept him occupied.
A solitary crane seems to be wondering where the next meal may be coming from.
At the same time, the last of the tourist boats and fishing boats head back to their respective piers. The wake of the boats create large criss-cross patterns of orange light and shadow on the surface of the river. It's almost time for the boats to bid us good night.
Flocks of geese and perhaps other birds fly home overhead in their typical V-shaped formations.
It's been a busy day for us, exploring Cavelossim, finding the newly built bridge and admiring sunset from the vantage spot above the River Sal.
It's time to dodge the beep-beep and head to the beach shack for our customary dinner by the waves. It's probably going to be a comfortable, cool Goan January evening at about 20 C.
Follow this link for Glimpses of food and drink in South Goa
And this link for a look at South Goa from Cansaulim to Colva
Bon appetit..!! See you soon..!!