When we flew into Goa from Jaipur over a week ago, me and Scott were both well ready for a some sun, a dip in the sea and a bit more variety for our palette. Having travelled around Northern India for a month, the endless thali and mildly chaotic lifestyle had become a little, boring – so the thought of paradise for two weeks was enough to put a smile on both of our faces.
To that extent Goa hasn’t disappointed. Firstly, we’ve seen the sun. Travel to India in January and you’ll be expecting to escape the cold snap back home and be able to delight in the world of shorts and flip-flops. Our time in Delhi was one of the coldest snaps the capital had seen for years and we could feel it! Rarely were we out of our long trousers, it wasn’t quite as we had expected it to be. Goa on the other hand, has been the complete opposite. A quick Google before we arrived got us excited for the circa 30 degree heat that AccuWeather was promising. When we arrived to 39 degree heat, our 25kg backpacks on, jeans and hiking boots in tow – we were melting, but we didn’t feel like we could or necessarily should, complain about it. The next 11 days we’ve experienced similar heat, dips to 35 degrees at times, but more often than not the high 30’s have been hit every day. Maybe we should have opted for an air-con room after all. That being said, we are paying a mere £3 each a night to stay here – so we can’t complain about that either!
One lifesaver in our first week, a time when you’re body is still adjusting to the new environment, was the Goan sea. So warm and inviting after sunset, yet so cool and refreshing during the peak of the day’s heat. We were loving it. Back by the sea. Neither of us had ever spent more than a few weeks away from the coast in our whole lives, that’s 49 years between us, so after 4 weeks of salt-free breezes, we were more than ready to be reunited with what was quickly becoming a long-lost lover for both of us. Enjoying the surf a bit too much, we struck up a deal with a local shop keeper that saw us part with around £15 in exchange for two body-boards. It felt good rekindling a little bit of the 10 year-old me. Some of my favourite memories as a young lad, were body-boarding during holidays in Cornwall and back home on the rocky beaches of Pevensey Bay. Here I was, just turned 25, walking down the beach with my dolphin-embossed body-board – I didn’t care that everyone was looking, I just wanted to get in and have some fun. It’s safe to say that we’ve both squeezed our monies worth out of the boards already. Snapping them in the first 20 minutes (still usable, just a little ‘bent’), was a clear sign that these things weren’t made for 100kg 25 year old blokes. They weren’t made for us.
We decided to venture out a little as we entered the second week of our stay in Agonda. There is a rocky outcrop, to the south of the beach and we were headed there in the hope that we could join the adventurous revellers who had already made the 5 minute climb and were enjoying the last warmth of the day’s sun. Soon realising that our choice of footwear, flip-flops, wasn’t the wisest decision we almost turned back. Only to be overtaken by a group of tough-looking, middle-aged German ladies. Their sun-parched skin covered by skimpy bikinis and their feet, just like ours, only supported by a flip-flop on each. “If they can do it, so can we” I urged Scott as we continue our push up the steep rocks. 3 minutes later, we had made it, and the rosey-purple hues of the setting sun made every scratch, bite and nick on our ankles worth it.
At the top, we were joined by a few Russian hippies who had obviously spent a considerable amount of time tidying up the area in a bid to reduce the amount of rubbish. I knew that to be the case as there were around 10 large black sacks, ready to be used as counter-weight for the steep decline back towards the beach. One of the more out-spoken hippy folk asked if we could lug the two ‘heaviest’ bags down as they couldn’t move them themselves. A tougher choice than you think, as the hike up had been hard and rather torturous without a bag filled with broken glass and god knows what else. A short and awkwardly high pitched “sure” later, we were both fully integrated into the hippies trash-removal plan. Karma, that’s what Scott said it would be good for and while I’m not religious in anyway, I do believe a little in what goes around, comes around, so I got stuck in too.
As we slipped and slid, quite literally, back down the rocks – we soon realised the enormity of the challenge we had taken on. 38 degree heat had already taken it’s toll on the way up, carrying and extra 5kg was back breaking work on the way down. KARMA though. Karma. The thought of being able to jump in the sea as soon as we had dumped our load at the side of one of the beach wheelie bins excited my brain and soon enough that time had come. De-clothing, I knocked my sunglasses into the sand so decided to quickly wash them off. As I placed them in to the water, the rip-tide away from the beach was stronger than I expected and I almost lost a second pair in two days! The first I had stupidly been wearing whilst out in the waves and a large one had snatched them from my ears. Luckily, I was able to catch these ones but by the time all this was over, Scott had already made his way into the sea and was frolicking away. A short run back up and back down, I took a dive into an oncoming wave and the immediate chill was mind-blowing, all the hard-grafted sweat had been washed away in one quick splash. I stood up, exhaled a happy noise and took a couple of steps forward whilst considering my next dive area, and then… BAM.
It felt like a whip. A whip that had 100’s of tiny pins in it, paired with the suction cups you would find on the underside of your shower mat. Almost immediately after, I started to feel a burning sensation. Then a sting. Before the two feelings merged into one of the most painful things I have ever felt. I had instinctively palmed it away with my left hand, after realising that this in fact, wasn’t a normal feeling to have and sure enough I went through the same process of pain on my wrist too. Double-stung, I knew I needed to get out and warned Scott to do the same. No less than 60 seconds later, I was sitting in our go-to restaurant on the beach and was having vinegar doused on my injuries (I’m pretty sure this saved me a lot of pain in the long run, it deactivates the nematocysts or something). After some rather frantic Googling, we soon realised that urine isn’t the best way forward, much to Scott’s disapproval as he seemed to actually be looking forward to taking a piss on my hand. He is a bit weird though. Heading back to the hut for some paracetamol and a hot shower (the recommended action for a jellyfish sting), the pain was still intense and I was definitely not over the worst of it. 4 hours and 4 more pills later, the pain had subsided enough for some food – anything to take my mind of the throb I thought. Soon enough we were in the restaurant and the food took my mind of it a little more.
3 days later, I still haven’t returned to the sea, yet. Writing this makes me realise that I probably should get back in though. Maybe I’ll go for it again before the sun sets!
I’ve absolutely loved Goa so far (even with sting gate) and I am also extremely excited as we’ve been offered a Workaway opportunity for next week, an hour inland from the beaches that Goa is so well known for. It’s a family run farmstay & spice plantation amidst the lower Western Ghats, we’ll be helping out with some video content and also be covering it ourselves in our vlogs – so keep an eye on our YouTube channel too.
Here’s to hoping that’s the last sting we get.