Time in South Goa moves at a strange pace. Although the days pass in a languid haze, drifting by like dust motes caught in a shaft of bright sunlight, my time here has flown too quickly and now, suddenly, it is time to move on. As ever, I have at once too much and yet not enough time.
I have spent six weeks in our little white house in Columb Village , the longest time spent in one place since I left home in September. I have slipped into a comfortable routine of lazy days; sleeping in, reading, swimming in the sea and letting the salt dry in my hair, searching out delicious food and eating until I am unable to move. There is so much to love here, from the swaying palms to the smiling people to the way the sun dips below the ocean at night; and the weeks have seamed into a rose coloured reel of memories, moments indistinguishable in the frame of time yet still etched indelibly upon my mind.
I walk daily through the village, with its small concrete houses daubed in a rainbow of colours; mint green, fuschia, buttercup yellow and chalky orange. A woman in a plum coloured sari woven with gold thread, her oiled hair in a thick plait down her back and silver hoops through her ears and nose, bends double to sweep the dirt floor at the front of her house. Chickens scatter in front of my feet, and a warm sea breeze blows star shaped white jasmine flowers from their tree to land like confetti on the dirt path.
Every morning we eat freshly fried samosas for breakfast from the tiny shop up the road, stuffed with potatoes and fragrant spices. We buy tiny cups of hot creamy masala chai and sip them by the roadside before wandering past colourful market stalls to the beach. Laying a brightly patterned throw on the sand at the water’s edge, I sprawl on my stomach to read, digging my toes into the sand and drinking in stories of this incredible country whilst her sun spreads across my shoulder blades, turning them a deep golden brown.
Riding pillion on a scooter on the twisting roads up the coast, my long skirt streams out behind me like a flag in the wind. We ride through dense green canopies of forest, a temple roof ornate with faded burgundy and gold rising amidst the trees. Slaloming around herds of horned cows in the road, I can smell the salt and glimpse the shimmer of the ocean through the forest, and we bounce and slide down a perilous track of rust coloured dirt and stones to reach the shore.
Stretching out in the prow of our neighbour Umesh’s blue and white painted fishing boat, I glimpse dolphins sliding between the glassy waves. We pass close by the rocky cliffside of nearby Monkey Island and see birds wheeling over the warm thermals, and big black crabs scuttling and baking on the jutting sea rocks below.
Palm branches rustle gently overhead as we ride down the coastal road, racing the setting sun. Breathless, we run down a narrow path and emerge in time to watch the sun dip below the horizon in a final blaze of light, the sky fading from azure to pink. Small children jump from brightly painted fishing boats into the shallows, splashing and shouting. Their fathers hang their nets to dry, beaded with seawater and smelling of ozone, on low hanging tree branches at the waters edge.
One night, we sit on the beach and watch a sunset so spectacular it renders me speechless. Long after the sun has disappeared below the horizon the scattered clouds burn fiery red in the sky, painting sweeping strokes of crimson over a canvas of yellow and burnt orange and pink and gold. The faint outline of a crescent moon hangs above, suspended in a sky full of colour and reflected in the waves below, and the sky seems so vast that it is impossible to look at anything else.
When the colours finally fade to black, we lie on our backs in the sand and spot constellations amongst the glittering blanket of stars. It would be so easy, I think, to stay here forever. But that is the nature of travel; always changing, always moving on, and there is always another amazing place to discover. Stillness is fleeting, and so once again I pack my backpack and I leave, rushing away into the night on a train bound for new, solo adventures.