I’ve talked about how much I enjoy living outside when we travel and especially in Goa. Our room opens on to a small balcony where we eat breakfast and lunch. At night we sleep under an open window – a cool breeze off the ocean blowing in. And the sound of the animals – bulls snorting, pigs grunting. Night and day, we are surround by animals.
Each morning pigs appear out of the bush to eat our breakfast scraps, competing with a squadron of militant crows with their annoying squawk that drowns out other delicate bird songs.
Monkeys swing down from guava trees, startling us in our path. Rita’s given up trying to protect the fruit.
The one-eyed cat wanders through the garden around noontime. A persistent cow blocks the entrance to the banana lady’s shop.
Brahma bulls with horns erect stand in contemplation on the beach.
Dogs imitate tourists – splashing in the waves, sprawled on empty sunbeds…
…watching the sunset.
At night, they adjourn to the restaurants and sit beside us waiting for handouts Motionless geckos wait patiently for their prey next to the light bulb
They are in our midst and we are in theirs.
And then the bell tolls and it’s time to leave Agonda. On our last night as we go for dinner with Michael, it seems almost everyone we’ve befriended is out on the street to say goodbye. Hugs from fellow tourists – Jen and Tony from England, Peter the talented violinist and his wife from Switzerland, Krystyna and her 88-year-old mother from Poland. The Indian shopkeepers, Geeta and later up the road Lakshmi, step outside their cultural boundaries and also hug me. Last of all, the banana lady waves from behind her mountain of bananas, papaya and melons…the persistent cow stops for a moment to give us her final appraisal. Harder still is to say goodbye to our new friend Michael who kept us laughing for the full six weeks.
Why does it seem easier to make friends here? Over morning chai we spend hours talking, sharing experiences and stories. From different countries, cultures and political environments, learning what our Russian friends think of Putin and the fighting in the Ukraine, and to hear their perspective of the US role in world politics. More enlightening than what CNN serves up. And how much better the Russian version of Dr Zhivago is than the old British version we’re so familiar with in the west.
There is plenty of time to get to know each other, no one has to rush off to work, take care of their families and so on. At the same time there’s an element of urgency. A stay may be only a week or as much as four months, but no one is here forever. If you have something to say or do, best hurry up and do it. But there’s always next season – God willing.