I like to think of myself as a traveler who enjoys the less trodden path, but the countless signs for organic juices, foreign travelers with yoga mats strapped to their backs, and offerings for Ayurvedic massages made my heart smile as we approached Agonda. As fun as being in a new world is, sometimes it’s nice when that new world collides with your old one.
When the dirt path widened and Jarmin a Mar came into view, I was further convinced that Agonda was the Goa that we’d heard about, and the one we’d been yearning for.
Jardim is designed for relaxation. The restaurant overlooks the beach, with each seat facing the sea, decorated with plush pillows that allow you to sink into bliss. Next to it is spacious communal area with beach lounges piled with even more pillows and luxurious beach huts for the more indulgent traveler (we opted for a seaside room, which was minimal but perfectly fine). The vibrant fabrics that decorate the property give it the expected India flare, as do the lanterns and iridescent beads dangling from each accommodation. It was the hippie den of my dreams.
Dom and I shared an excited glance and sigh of relief — Dorothy, we’re not in Morjim anymore! — and ditched our bags for a much needed stroll in the litter-free sand and swim in the non-murky sea. As we moved down the peaceful stretch, we ogled at the various offerings for live reggae music, catch of the day, meditation and yoga classes, and boating excursions. Oh, the possibilities!
The people watching was even better. We couldn’t help but chuckle as we passed a woman lost in a world of dance, headphones in, limbs flying in all directions. Imagine Elaine Benes, but on a yoga retreat — and perhaps on peyote. And she wasn’t the only one ventured to Agonda to get in touch with herself. In less than a mile, we saw many wrapped up in solo dancing, sand meditations, yoga chanting, and other shenanigans. Add to it the various foreigners taking selfies with the beach cows, brave souls experimenting with kite surfing for the first time (and in vigorous wind), and couples rolling in the sand a la "From Here to Eternity", whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears, and you can understand why Jardim was set up for sitting, observing, and soaking it all in.
We quickly developed a daily routine of coffee, short beach run, eat, swim, drink, read, eat, rinse, repeat. It was perfect. But as much as we loved it, we knew we had to look beyond the sand, Kingfisher, and vegetarian curries.
So we got an Ayurvedic massage. I’d heard rumors about the excessive amount of oil and vigorous rubbing, but nothing could prepare me for what was to come.
My masseuse looked like a teenager. When I got to my room, I waited for her to leave so I could undress, but she instead, she offered her arm as a hanger and said, “Naked.” I handed her my clothes and gave her one of those straight-mouthed smiles that says I’m super uncomfortable but here we go! Next thing you know, I was sitting on a basket getting sesame oil rubbed into my scalp. While that may sound nice, it actually felt like my hair was being pulled out chunks at a time. My face was scrunched in pain, forced smile permanently plastered, tears nearly forming. When she was finished, I touched the oily rats nest that used to be my normal head. Things had to go up from here?
The rest of the treatment was a full, and I mean FULL, body rub down. Oil was massaged from head to toe — in various strokes and rubs and figure eights and, did she just draw a smiley face? — leaving only a few inches untouched. If I had done a slip n’ slide after, I could’ve launched myself to America. But it turns out mine wasn’t as bad as Dom’s, who was told on numerous occasions to relax his muscles, namely his butt cheeks.
The following day, still glimmering from our oil bath, we ventured to neighboring beaches Patnem and Colomb for a coffee slushie and some pizza — two very authentic Goan dishes.
Patnem was a cross between Agonda and Morjim, with Agonda’s serene beauty and Morjim’s bustling party scene. We found Cafe Inn, and eagerly ordered coffee slushies with a scoop of ice cream. It should really be called a milkshake. It made my body surge with happiness. We then made our way along the beach, over some rocks, up several flights of stairs, across two pebble beaches, and through a hidden village all the way to Colomb. I was certain we’d gone off the path at numerous occasions, frantically checking Google Maps (even though it didn’t work), worried that with each step I took I was trespassing. But after what was in reality a 20 minute walk — it felt at least three times as long — we saw our next destination: Boom Shankar.
Our chosen watering hole was rumored to have the best cocktails in Colomb, and the best view of the sunset. It certainly delivered on the latter, but the mojito we were served was mostly a glass filled with browning mint, a hefty splash of lime, and perhaps some rum. Mmmm. We watched the sun change from neon orange, to fiery pink, to a muted red, and then it sank into the sea. It must be time for pizza.
We’d grown wary of reviews boasting to be “authentic Italian” — or authentic anything — but Magic View was actually pretty good. The pizza dough rivaled some of our favorite New York spots, and when we asked for a caprese salad, we were served real mozzarella — a rarity in India (at least in our experience). The pizza disappeared within minutes, and with little cash left to fuel our penchant for beer, we made our way back to Agonda.
Knowing we had a 4 a.m. start the next day, we attempted to get to bed early. Unfortunately, our neighbors had a different plan for us. While showering, they decided to belt out the entirety of "Summer Nights". Then we got to witness what sounded like food poisoning. Perhaps we should’ve splurged on one of those beach huts. At least our train journey will be restful... right?