“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” Japanese poet Matsuo Basho.
On my trip to India last month, I liked everywhere I visited, but my favorite was Goa, a state on the country’s west coast known for its beautiful beaches. While it’s a small state by Indian standards, Goa has 54 different beaches covering 125 km of its coastline. The beaches in the north are known for their hippie vibe and party scene. The ones in the south are generally quieter and have maintained more of their natural beauty as they have fewer tourists. I stayed at one of the quietest beaches in quiet south Goa, Cavelossim.
For readers who like photos of pristine beaches and perfect sunsets, I do have a section of photos at the end of the post. In Goa and other beach destinations though, I generally spend only a small amount of time actually at the beach. I love beaches but there needs to be some activity or I get bored really quickly. Long runs, walks and bike rides are great. Working on this blog or other projects at a beach side cafe is also nice. But you’re not going to see me sunbathing with a cocktail in hand.
I spent most of the six days in Goa exploring different parts of the region on the motorbike I rented from my guesthouse. On a typical day I set off in the morning with a particular destination in mind (a family owned organic spice farm, a distant beach I’d heard good things about, the butterfly conservatory I wrote about in the last post) but I allowed a lot of extra time for the journey. For a trip that locals would do in an hour, I would take three. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’m much more careful on a motorbike than most local drivers. I’ve even received a couple compliments on my driving when I’ve had local girls on the back of my motorbike.
Most importantly though, I think it’s important to enjoy the journey at least as much as the destination, so I allow lots of extra time to stop and take photos, chat with locals in little villages on the way, walk around a rural temple or church and the endless other intriguing diversions I encounter on a journey. Each of the destinations I explored in Goa was great (the spice farm was my favorite), but on this trip and others I’ve noticed something interesting – many of the most enjoyable and memorable times were on the journey rather than at the destination itself.
In part this is simply because for many excursions, the journey takes a lot more time. For each day trip in Goa, I typically spent 5-6 hours on the motorbike and 2-3 hours at the destination. For this reason alone, it’s really important to enjoy the road. The majority of my photos of Goa come from the journey to or from the main destination. In general, most of my travel photos are from moments when I was on a motorbike or walking around and thought, “Wow! This is cool!” I have that thought a lot.
But the rewards of enjoying the journey are much more than simply the amount of time spent. If we slow down a bit and adopt a mindset of receptive awareness, little pleasures and points of interest are everywhere, in our travels and in life itself. The roads in rural Goa passed through beautiful countryside, decorated with lush green rice fields and groves of coconut trees (see top group of photos). Picturesque little villages pop up regularly along the country roads. Locals sell goods from the side of the road, including appetizing snacks and drinks. Pretty little churches and shrines dot the landscape. Laughing children and curious locals smile and wave from the side of the road, or come over to chat when I stop.
By their nature, these pleasures along the road are serendipitous. While I had a good idea of what to expect at the spice farm from the web site and TripAdvisor photos, it was impossible to foresee encountering a local wedding procession on the way back (see photos below). Nor could I predict that a wise and weathered local man named Moses would take me to coffee when I stopped to take photos in his village one morning. And, when I stopped in a provincial town to make copies of some documents for my new Vietnam visa, I had no idea that I’d meet a fascinating young Goan entrepreneur with his own sailing business and end up going to lunch together at a local restaurant. The potential for these sorts of spontaneous experiences is everywhere in our journeys through this world.
Enjoying them does take a certain mindset though. If we’re rushing to get to the destination or in an unreceptive state of mind, they’ll slip by unnoticed. As I wrote in the last post, I felt nauseous for much of the ride to the butterfly park and that’s of course not a trip I particularly enjoyed. While Goa was incredibly beautiful, I remember thinking that particular route was a bit ugly. I’m pretty sure though that this was because I wasn’t in the right state of mind to notice points of interest.
When I have the right outlook though, these spontaneous pleasures are everywhere and may very well be the best part of most trips. If we adopt the right mindset, they can be the best parts of this journey called life as well.
Here are my favorite photos from six days motorbiking around Goa, divided into five sections – Countryside, People and Village Scenes, Churches and Shrines, A Rural Wedding and Beaches.
People and Village Scenes
Churches and Shrines
A Rural Wedding