Tuesday, January 31, 2012

South Goa in January - relaxed as usual

Saturday, Jan 28, 2012

I was in a bit of a fix. My meetings were at Sanquelim (30 km east of Panjim) and at Zuari Nagar (near Dabolim airport). Where do I stay in between my meetings? Would if be North Goa or Panjim or South Goa? Considering the proximity to my second meeting venue and the airport, I settled on South Goa.

Tony came to my rescue. He runs Balton's Restaurant and Shack. "Come over, I'll help you find a room", he said. The taxi ride from the new campus of the Goa Institute of Management at Sanquelim to Arossim took over an hour. 

The hills around Sanquelim have been ravaged by illegal mining for several years, which the Supreme Court recently put an end to. The environment is now protected, and the roads around Sanquelim are free of miles of ore laden trucks that used to make their way to the river and port.

I peeped into a few hotels, guided by Tony, then settled on Pristine Resort, a couple of minutes walk from the entrance of the Park Hyatt resort. A quick check in, after which I had a few minutes to catch the sunset. Arossim beach is less than a kilometer from Pristine, about a 10 minute walk around the Hyatt. 

The shacks appeared slightly busy, some people were on the beach.

A German Shephard sniffs at a man made sand castle.

View of Arossim Beach, looking south. The jeeps of the Beach patrol crew have been busy, a common sight this season. 

Yes, that's the parachute of the para gliding outfit, entertaining guests from resorts in the vicinity. 

The sunsets at South Goa are ever so peaceful, like the beaches. 

Even the little beach birds take time off their busy, jumping schedules. 

Balton's restaurant on the road has a wonderful ambience for dinner. Food lovers will love the varied menu. Music lovers will enjoy the soft rock and pop music (going back to the 60's). Bike lovers will probably re-live life in the past, with two shining, 'antique' motor bikes on display, a Royal Enfield Bullet and a Rajdoot 350cc Yamaha from the 70's.

Sunday, Jan 29, 2012

The restaurant at Pristine Resort overlooking the pool is a relaxed place to prepare for presentations.

A little cross inside Pristine. This is a very common sight in Goa. 

My mind went back to Goa in August, when I found this reassuring sight in the back roads behind Curlie's in South Anjuna, the fields at their greenest best after the monsoon rains.   

Crosses in Goa remind me of Thailand and Bali, where similar, little places of worship are found on almost every street. 

A few representatives of the Hyatt-Taxi-Drivers-and-Card-Players-Club sit around lazily on Sunday morning. Give them their due, though. I have found during past visits that this gang is rather mild. Their counterparts in Varca have all the prerequisites needed to qualify for Sicilian citizenship immediately.

Utorda Beach is about half a kilometer further south of Arossim. One flyer lands while another is all strapped up, ready to go.  

Balton's Beach Shack is the perfect pit stop for lunch. 

Ah, this is it. Take the sandals off, dig your toes into the cool, fine sand, adjust yourself a wee bit till the chair sinks in just the right amount, and you are all set for an hour or two. 

The life-giving 'Shack License' is what the pre-October chaos is all about.

Building shacks is hard and involved work, the life span is all of 6 to 7 months. 

Good old Goan Ambotik fish curry and rice. 

Time for a stroll, to take in the warmth of the few hours to sunset. Wonder what goes into the 'home made Goan pizzas'. Racheido topping? Vindaloo topping? 

Management schools may one day teach about the origins of the GPL.

Parts of the beach near Betalbatim are getting fortified against erosion. 

A lonely ice-cream seller waits for customers. His ice creams may be 'home made', as well. 

One of many little stops, this one to admire the games played by the sun, clouds and waves on the way back to Utorda. 

My 14 y/o son used to be skeptical about my long beach walks in Goa, particularly as a child, when he would be taken in a taxi by my OH from Aguada to Calangute or Aguada to Baga, while I walked.  This was back when the entire beach stretch could be walked. He suspected that I sneaked into a taxi somewhere in between. 

Many years later, these are the days of smartphones and GPS enabled apps. This is what my 8 km walk from Utorda to Betalbatim and back looked like. 

Back to Balton's in Utorda just in time before it got too dark. 

Today's dinner is by the waves.  

The sun goes down.

And the shack lights are lit up. 

As are the candles on the tables. 

Monday, Jan 30, 2012

My room overlooks the pool, with fields in the distance, a terrific combination along with the early morning sun. 

The day consisted of few quick strolls between Pristine and the beach, in between spots of 'work'.

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2012

The day began with a 2.5 hour, 14 km sunrise walk from Arossim to Colva and back. The beach stretch is even quieter at that time, except for a few fishermen and early morning walkers, mostly as you approach Colva.  Here's proof for my 14 y/o. Our deal is that this summer he's going to do these long walks, as well. He had enjoyed the bus rides last December.

After the long walk and breakfast, it's time to look around the Pristine area, located about 50 metres from the main road. 

The property right next to Pristine seems to be frozen in time. Very rustic, with dogs, cats, chicken and pigs. And one Maruti taxi parked inside to indicate that time has actually passed by.

Mama pig and baby pigs in the compound.

Pristine overlooks this field, the one that is visible from my room.

Another virtually frozen-in-time sight, this one right opposite Pristine. A huge buffalo lazily chews cud. 

Later that morning, a view from my sun bed. 

My (motionless) neighbour all morning. 

Another view of Utorda beach and sea from the sun bed. 

Lunch, yet another long walk, and back to Balton's shack to say 'see you later'. 

This table is not for me this evening. I have a flight to catch. 

A quick look at the sun setting on Arossim beach.

Up ahead is a 5-minute walk back to Pristine, shower, a 25-minute drive to the airport and a 1-hour flight back home. 

South Goa Menus and Food, from previous visits, are here: