Walking the dusty beach side road that separates Patnem beach from Columb Bay, I felt the sweat running between my shoulder blades as the midday sun beat down on my head. We had been wandering for a couple of hours, stopping at colourful concrete homes and roadside restaurants to speak to local families with houses to rent, in search of somewhere in South Goa to call home for the next six weeks. After several miles, a few dirty, crumbling horror shows and a near miss with an overpriced yellow house with rooster statues in the yard; we were hot, tired and dispirited.
Thankfully, the lovely Hannah over at Further Bound had told me about a local man named Povi who owns the Ocean Breeze restaurant at Columb, so we headed down there to find him. A small, wiry man with a mobile phone permanently attached to his ear, it takes him approximately ten minutes to find a house for us, just back from the bay in Columb Village with one bedroom, a kitchen and walls painted in dark raspberry, lime and sunshine yellow.
We agreed to stay, and got up early the next day to head down the road to Columb. Povi met us at his restaurant and walked with us through the village, the dirt path winding past women with bare feet and red paint daubed between their brows, sweeping their front steps with straw brooms; elderly fishermen watching from the shade of their doorways, growling dogs and languid cats, hens clucking after their chicks and horned cows with bells around their necks grazing on the rubbish that lies along the ground.
We reached the brightly painted house and dropped our bags on the lumpy mattress. Just as we were planning where things would go, Povi came to us with some bad news. The house had an existing booking from 30th December – nearly two weeks before we want to leave – and if we stay here we will have to move on New Year’s Eve. The prospect of wandering around all day in the sun looking for somewhere else made me want to cry, but Povi worked his magic and made a quick phone call, speaking rapidly in Konkani, before leading us around the corner to a small cluster of houses, one of which has steps leading up to a porch with a white painted balustrade. Our house.
It is perfect, small and full of light. The walls are painted chalky white, the ceiling is weathered wooden beams and red clay tiles. Curling white metal bars ornament the windows, and a brightly coloured welcome hangs above the front door. It is the definition of simplicity; a living area with a wooden desk and a floor mat to sit on, a tiny kitchen in the corner, a blue tiled bathroom and a bedroom with a big window and space to hang clothes. It is a place to call home for a few weeks, stash our backpacks under the bed, hang out on the beach and play with our inherited cat, who we have named Squeaks due to his unique take on a cats miaow.
‘You are very lucky’ Povi smiled at us; ‘this house is better for you I think. I am from a Hindu family, I can feel that you have good karma. This house has good feeling for you.’
We exchanged a fistful of rupees for a tiny battered key on a string of wooden beads. Our landlady Chandra, which means ‘the moon’, grabbed my hand in both of hers. She speaks no English, but waggled her head at us happily, grinning a betal-juice smile.
‘Thank you’ I told her; ‘thank you, so much’, and she pulled me into a tight hug. We were home.
[infobox bg=”turquoise” color=”black” opacity=”on” subtitle=”Our house is in Columb village, 30 seconds from the beach at Columb Bay, which sits in between Palolem and Patnem beaches in South Goa. We are paying Rs.17,000 for 6 weeks rent (that’s £170 between two of us, or about £2 a day each – I love India). There are lots of places available for rent here if you want to stay for an extended period of time. The best way to find places is usually by word of mouth – come to Columb and walk around, speak to local business owners who often have contacts with house owners. Prices tend to go up in December as Goa moves into high season, so if you want to stay for a while it might be a good idea to arrive in November and negotiate a rate for the total time you are here. “][/infobox]