The past two weekends have been pretty crazy with lots of travel. Last weekend I ventured to Anjuna and Arambol, Goa also known as Paradise. For all of you who don’t feel like getting a map of India out Goa is on the west coast. My friends and I spent the long weekend basking in the Indian sun and swimming in the Arabian Sea. It was an absolutely perfect weekend not to mention the fabulous tan I am now sporting! I not only enjoyed the sun, sand and sea in Goa but also got to enjoy delicious fresh seafood. While in Goa I was pretty much in heaven, and it was a totally different experience than anywhere else I have traveled in India. It was after this trip that I realized a very unique thing about India. Everywhere you go is a totally different experience, kind of like walking through the magical wardrobe.
Anjuna is located in the northern part of Goa and is known for its eccentric character. It reminded me of Santa Cruz, California but without the surfer vibe, just a lot of hippies riding around on motorcycles with their dreads flying in the wind. It was quite the sight since I was not expecting to see this in India. Anjuna was also the place where I did the most damage shopping wise. There was so much “stuff” I could not leave without buying, that I ended up going a little over board. I now have PLENTY of gifts for my friends and family back home. I guess I just can’t break away from the California hippie style.
Goa is known for its raves and there are a few boutiques around Anjuna that cater to this clientele. As my friends and I wandered around the streets of Goa, we discovered one of these unique stores. Inside there was everything from glow in the dark tank tops to tiny American flag swim shorts. We had a blast just trying stuff on and seeing how ridiculous the stuff looked on us. One of the items we tried on was a glow in the dark romper which I immediately fell in love with but the price was pretty steep by Indian standards so I decided to think about it for a few days. The gods were on my side that weekend and I ended up splurging on this romper. I can’t wait to wear it back at Bucknell with my neon kicks and highlighter hat, a completely logical purchase in my book!
Arambol Beach is just a few hours north of Anjuna by bus and has a little more of a Costa Rica vibe to the little town. Here two girlfriends and I rented a beach hut for 500 rupees or about 10 dollars and proceeded to sit on this beautiful beach for about twelve hours. We ate our meals on the beach and even stargazed with the Arabian Sea tickling our toes. It was an absolutely magical experience.
Goa was a hard place to leave but my next adventure to Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu was almost as perfect but in a totally different way.
Pondicherry located on the east coast of India, was formally a French colony and it definitely has not lost its French charm. We strolled along the Bay of Bengal on the boardwalk and admired the adorable houses lining the streets. I picked out a bright yellow one that I claimed as my own so don’t be surprised if in 20 years I have packed up and moved to Pondicherry and am living in a sunshine yellow house!
On Saturday we took a 20-minute drive inland to a place called Auroville, which is home to a very interesting peace settlement. The goal of the settlement is to create an ‘Animal House’ (think commune not John Belushi) society where everything is communal and completely sustainable while staying true to the teaching of yoga. In Auroville, I didn’t feel like I was in India either because it was just so different. I felt like I could almost be back at home in the US wandering around a sustainable living housing development.
The biggest attraction in Auroville has to be the meditation center. This meditation center is located in a giant gold ball that looks like one of those suction balls you play with in the bath as a child. It was quite the sight and although we were not allowed inside we were able view this strange gold structure from afar.
Auroville is also near a beautiful beach so I was able to put my toes in the Bay of Bengal. I think it felt warmer than the Arabian Sea which seems almost impossible. Then again it has gotten considerably hotter in the past week as the monsoon season is ending so I am sure the sun is heating up the water!
I think the highlight of our trip to Pondicherry was the French Bakery we stumbled upon when wandering around the streets. This bakery had everything including chocolate croissants and French baguettes, which have become absolutely foreign to me while being in India. We ended up going back to this delicious French bakery 3 times in less than 24 hours, which I was totally fine with considering the assortment of delicious food offered.
These two weekend adventures reminded me that India is a place of great diversity and even when I think I have experienced India to the fullest, India always has a surprise hidden away, it just takes a weekend adventure to find it.
peace, love and laughter