Welcome to Incredible India, a country that loves to toss up the unexpected. Here is our travel story…
As the taxi drove through the streets of Mumbai, the poverty was definitely one of the first things that confronted us. Mumbai is big. It’s full of dreamers and hard-laborers, starlets and gangsters, artists and servants, street beggars and millionaires and lots and lots of any other type of people. It’s the home of the most prolific film industry, Bollywood, some of Asia’s biggest slums (at the same time the world’s most expensive homes) and the largest tropical forest in an urban zone. It’s India’s financial powerhouse, fashion epicentre and a pulse point of religious tension. In other words, Mumbai is a mix of everything. Although reading the above someone might think that we hated the place, surprisingly enough we didn’t. There was some magic in the air that made us actually like it. As the days went by, our car’s arrival got another delay so we managed to squeeze in a quick week’s long escape further south into Goa.
But let’s take the trip from the point that Voukefalas was out of its container and with its Carnet de Passage stamped. Anxious to get out of bustling Mumbai, although it was late, we headed south. Alibag was our first stop with very little to remember except the mosquito attacks. The next day, we drove for nine long hours and experienced for the first time what it means to drive in India. We reached Ganpatipule, an unspoiled stretch of volcanic sand beach targeting to locals mostly. With its small but apparently famous temple right on the beach as a scenery and a camping spot 20 or so meters from the shore, it was the perfect introduction back to our on the road traveling routine. After two days we were ready to head further south and enter Goa.
A small state served as a solitary Portuguese outpost for almost 500 years, the influence of colonial rule can still be seen everywhere in Goa till this day. Our ports of call here were the long, touristy but unique beach of Arambol and our No1 destination for this trip, the beautiful Agonda Beach. Swaying palms, white sands and sparkling waters were the three essential elements for a once in a lifetime experience and we took it all in. In Arambol we came face to face with the most memorable, extreme, unique parade of human figures and styles of travellers that call this place a temporary home, a sight of its own.
In Agonda now, among the sun, the beach, the moon and the stars that we enjoyed every single day, we celebrated Holi, one of India’s most colourful celebrations or the
festival of love. Holi celebrations start with a Holika bonfire on the night before Holi where people gather, sing and dance. The next morning is a free-for-all carnival of colours, where participants play, chase and colour each other with dry powder and coloured water. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The fight with colours occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. In our case, it was a club in the middle of the jungle where our friend Paul was performing as a DJ. It was definitely an unforgettable experience as far as we remember because we partied hard and had to face the hangover the next day.
Although leaving Agonda was not easy, we were back on the road, this time heading straight to Kerala’s famous back waters. Our first stop was Kannur, a small city on the north of Kerala where we had our first home stay and enjoyed Kerala’s hospitality. Heading further, we made a quick stop in Cherai Beach where we were invited by some locals who wanted us to give them some information about our travel because they were planning to have the same route. Here we came for the first time in contact with Kerala’s back waters, a huge area of fresh water lands that hold most of the state’s area.
The main attraction here is a house boat cruise but we will tell you about that in the upcoming post…