Solo Travel to Goa: One small trip, one giant leap
(Tathra, NSW, Australia)
It was only a fortnight in Goa but for me it was a turning point. Most of my friends thought I was crazy to go to Goa on my own. Admitedly, part of me thought I was crazy too to travel solo, but a still small voice from far inside persistently said "face your fears". My fear was going it alone in a life after children. Twins turning 16 and suddenly I realise that they're not going to be around much longer to hold Mummy's hand while she pretends to be the big brave traveler!
Why Goa? Just one of those places I've always wanted to go to and this trip had to be somewhere I'd never been before. Might as well jump in the deep end!
The journey itself from Melbourne via Kuala Lumpur (where I overnighted) then on to Chennai, Mumbai and finally Goa was smooth and went according to plan. The actual traveling alone has never bothered me, I was much more concerned about what was going to happen once I got there.. Would anyone talk to me? Would I make friends? What if I was lonely, or got lost?
Arriving at Dabolim Airpot I got a taxi to Vagator beach where I was hoping there would be a room for me in a family run pension I had emailed a few weeks before. Goa is busy in January as it is a popular destination for party people and a longstanding reputation for big NYE celebrations.
My first impressions of Goa were of course the smells of spices, cars, cows and people. The noise of honking horns. The traffic jam on leaving the airport the like of which I have only seen at the dodgems! But that all soon gave way to countryside, and dirt roads. With some relief we found the pension I had contacted and more so when the owner said he had a room for me. And so I had arrived. Fortunately there was a small restaurant attached to my accommodation, so after my first real Goan curry and a cold beer I was ready for bed. I felt like a legend. I had made it.. or had I?
I woke the next morning early and was gripped by fear. I didn't want to leave the room. Where was the beach? Which road would I take? What if got lost and worst of all, what if everyone knew that I wasn't really brave at all, but in fact just a scared middle-aged woman and a wannabe cool solo traveler? Honestly, I was terrified of making a fool of myself. Well, I was either going to spend a very long boring two weeks at the room and restaurant or I was going to take a deep breath and walk out the door.
There were no sign posts so I just followed my nose and my ears. I found the beach, the fort, a few cafes and shops. Every day I ventured a little further. Three days later I knew where I was but still hadn't made any friends. The two main reasons for this were that at that time Vagator was mainly visited by Russian tourists and also I had perfected my I'm-so-cool face to the point where I must have looked like I didn't want or need company. I found when I softened my face and smiled, local people smiled back. A few more days and it was taking me longer and longer to walk to the beach as I stopped and chatted and drank chai with shop keepers along the way.
I started to take motorcycle taxis to visit local markets. These have to be a bonus of solo travel. Cheap, fast, and fun and it was on the back of one such bike that the voice inside that had got me there in the first place spoke up again. I was holding on like grim death, white knuckles, shallow breathing, back seat driving and finding it hard to relax when I heard "just sit into it". So I did. I stopped trying to control the bike, I trusted that the rider knew what he was doing and guess what? There was all this amazing scenery around me to enjoy. The sights and sounds and smells of Goa, a feeling of freedom. I sat into that bike ride and I sat into the holiday.
By the time two weeks were up, I didn't recognise the person I had become but I liked her very much. I did make some friends and enjoyed some fun nights out with them as well as some serene horizon gazing as the sun set over the ocean. On one such evening as the strains of Goa trance wafted down to the beach and the sun dipped toward the sea I was suddenly aware that the sun was quite still and it was the earth with me, a tiny spec on the surface, rotating away from it. So I just sat into it and enjoyed the ride.