Having recently been lucky enough to spend two weeks in Goa, I thought I would share with you some of the colourful (literal not figurative) experiences I shared with my family. Admittedly the beautiful countryside is somewhat spoiled by the vast quantities of rubbish which litter the roadsides, but as you become immune to this you notice more and more of the striking and colour-laden scenes around you.
We deliberately visited Goa at a particularly vibrant time of year. The festival of Holi, when coloured paint powder is thrown or smeared on fellow revellers in a show of happiness to celebrate spring, was our introduction to India. In a slightly jet lagged state we sat in a beach bar gazing out at the stunning ocean view as the kids began to get into the spirit of the day. On the slightly sweaty hike to another bar, we were already quite a sight compared to most of the Goans. Further paint throwing by the children (and many of the grown-ups) meant there wasn’t a single inch of pale skin left. Even more than three weeks later my son still has slightly purple hair! In Goa Holi forms part of the Shigmo festival and there were decorations for the whole time we were there. The roundabouts were covered in bright banners and umbrellas and the Hindu temples were covered in lights.
Another great source of colour was the local market in Calangute. An abundance of multi-coloured fruits and vegetables, some of them meticulous stacked, some of them spread out, were protected from the blazing sun by vivid fabric shelters. There were colourful saris, cotton dresses and t-shirts everywhere you looked, not to mention the ever-so striking array of bed sheets.
We spent one morning at a lovely Portuguese villa extended and converted into a stylish hotel, the Shanti Morada. Admittedly, we were primarily there to take advantage of the fabulous pool and Jacuzzi bar (soft drinks of course!), but I would love to go back and stay there. All of the rooms were furnished with antique carved wooden beds and wardrobes and the bathrooms had roll-top baths as well as separate showers. There were several small lounges each with a different feel for chilling or escaping the midday sun. The pool area was decorated with Portuguese geometric tiles as well as Hindu statues. Colourful bunting bedecked a path which led you through the beautiful gardens up to the hammocks for reading and relaxing.
Everywhere you look in Goa there is colour. Many of the buildings are decorated with bright contrasting paints, especially the Hindu temples which seem to come in every colour imaginable. And I can hardly talk about Goa without mentioning the gorgeous golden beaches and the splendid show of brightly hued flowers. There is, of course, an abundance of wildlife too – cows and water buffalo everywhere, I caught a glimpse of a wild monkey from a taxi, but the most colourful creatures were the birds.