As I flew back to Goa, I wasn’t sure how I felt. I was excited to go back but also wondered how it would feel to come back as a tourist, without my home and my dogs, and if it would still feel like it did for all the years Ben and I lived there. I started my trip in India on a safari and was pretty tired and jetlagged plus really excited to see friends – when I walked out of Goa airport, it was literally as if I’d been away on a two-week vacation. It was just all the feels, everyone yelling “taxi, taxi”, pushing through to our driver, like always and then taking the same winding roads home that I could do with my eyes closed.
The first week there, I kind of bounced around. I stayed with Priyanka at first. She owns Jamboree Creek and saved me a cabin. Then, I headed over to my friend Tia’s for a few nights. She just had a baby, Zyon, and I’m his godmother. It was so perfect to crash with them and get to know him. He’s such a bubbly happy baby. It was really like no time had passed. He’s not on social media yet, so I won’t share photos but trust me, he’s adorable.
Our old house in Asssagao was ready for us to come back and stay and our landlord kindly let us stay for free (no one has been in it since we moved!) but I didn’t want to stay until Ben came. I thought it would be too weird to be there on my own, no Ben, no dogs, no cat. Ben was working in Mumbai and Pune but once he reached Goa, we moved to our old house.
The monkeys have taken over our house even more than before and really put on a show!
Remember when I spent a monsoon re-vamping it? I bought/made curtains, rugs, re-upholstered furniture, Ben made a couch, painted all the chairs and tables, and so much. It was all still there just as I left it – even the house plants and art. Walking back in that was a shock! I figured the landlord would have been there and changed things. But it turns out, no one had and it was literally still our home. While it might have been sad without the pets, our other favorite dogs came to play. I warn you, this post is mostly about Goa dogs haha! I can’t help it. I love them!
Snowy, who is Happy Bar’s dog, kind of stayed with us for a year when we had Huck. They were good buddies and he spent a lot of time at our house, taking naps next to us on the couch. But Shanti one day took a piece of pizza out of Snowy’s mouth and that started a bitter feud that kept Snowy from coming around so much. We still saw her at Happy Bar along with Elvis and Question Mark but she didn’t sleep at our house anymore.
She must have realized that our dogs weren’t around because she came back – nearly 11 years old, she’s really struggled with her age and when I woke up in the morning she was sleeping on the back porch and came into the kitchen like she did in 2013. It was so crazy how dogs remember these things! She even walked me everywhere like she used to, leading the way and looking back every 10 seconds to make sure I was coming. Back in the day, we would drive our Omni van to Mapusa and she would follow us the whole way there running behind the van. Her, Elvis, and Question Mark the Happy Bar Dogs would walk Huck with us all in a big pack when Huck was alive.
Her and Blackey Whitey dog hung around a lot. We went and saw Three-Legged-Dog (the dog we took to get amputated when he was hit by a scooter outside Cream Choc, it was such a crazy day) and he didn’t remember us sadly but was still cute as ever perched on his bench.
When we first took him into the animal aid to fix his leg
Then there’s Puppy. Puppy was a street dog outside our house that we found in a box in the jungle. We tried to feed him but he was so scared of people and skittish. The next time we found him, he had a plastic bottle on his head. We decided to tie him up to keep him safe and then let him be in our gated area when we were home. He loved Omni and Shanti and even Kitkat and eventually, he started coming in the house, sleeping on the couch, and eventually the bed! I took him to get neutered before we left Goa and our friend Sonu took Puppy into his house to live. It was really sad to leave Puppy behind but he has a good home.
Puppy and Blackey Whitey Dog
Puppy when we left in May on the left (in my bed), Puppy now on the right
When we first saw him, he was as scared as he always used to be until he smelled us and realized who we were and I swear it was so cute he started squealing and making squeezing noises and jumping on us. It was all we could do not to cry! He’s such a cute dog and his new family loves him so much! He came over every evening with Sonu to hang out.
Overall Goa was just how we left it. Thalassa might have a new location, and Antares burnt to the ground, there are some new shops and some new party places but it’s all still the Goa we know and love. We planned out our meals to make sure we could eat all our favorite food, of course. That meant going to Thalassa (which also meant going to Mariketty’s house for a homemade lunch), Caio Bella, Artjuna, Baba Au Rhum, Villa Blanche, Gunpowder, Banyan, La Plage, and more. It’s also nice to see the owners of some of these places who became friends over the years.
Managed to get to Gunpowder twice, yum! It’s actually my favorite restaurant in the entire world
local food at Vinayak just down the road from my house, a restaurant that we ate at once a week at least
I might live in Mexico but I still got the tacos at Vaayu’s Prana cafe, no mango is as good as the Indian mango!
Popped into Villa Blanche most mornings for a coffee and lunch at Artjuna is a must
Beautiful Garden of Dreams
We were lucky to get to see all of our best friends while we were in Goa who made time to meet up with us. Some babies are now little kids running around and growing up so that was a change, but my friends are all the same and while we were apart for so long, it didn’t seem that way. It was so nice to hang at the beach, go shopping, wander around Mapusa market, have long drawn-out lunches, and of course, have some late nights partying. Can’t go to Goa and not have a party! Can’t have a party without it ended up at our house haha!
Bought a Ganesh which is now on my car here in Mexico (pictured above) and also got the fabric I needed for my wedding in Mapusa with Jules!
Went to the flea market for tea and spices – something I actually never did when I lived there! (And never will again, what a rip-off haha!)
I’ll be updating the Goa ebook for next season with all the things that have changed in Goa and tips on a few new places I checked out. A couple that are special are my friend Saffron’s new art gallery, Studio Arpora, and the new Goa Collective Bazaar at Hilltop on Friday nights. The market has great shopping and some of the best restaurants in Goa are represented there. Must try: Eddie’s Khow Suey. The full-size new Flame store was quite well-curated. Rangeela moved to Assagao last year and their shop has gotten even bigger and better! Tia and Rachel from Fara now have a second Alchemy Shop in the new Sublime in Assagao which is in a friends old house – that was fun to visit and just a stones-throw from my house so I can walk there.
Studio Arpora & the Hilltop Market
Rangeela & the Flame Store
When it was time to leave, it felt like time had moved way too fast. Everyone kept asking “did you make the right choice, do you wish you hadn’t moved?” and while I LOVE Goa, we feel like we did make the right choice in moving. Goa is paradise, and there is nowhere else like it. I will always come back to Goa every year and hopefully for a month each year – but Merida is “home” now and it’s kind of like “real life” while Goa is our Neverland.
I have some photos from the day we moved:
It was so awesome to see all of our friends again, and we can’t wait to go back next season. When it was time to leave, I was at the house on my own beause Ben had left a day ahead of me. I was all packed up and Babu was outside waiting to take me to the airport. I looked around pretty sad looking at the empty house that was our home for five years and then through the front door bounces in (literally) Blackey Whitey shaking her tail to say hi so fast that her whole butt was shaking. It was the perfect goodbye!
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You are like my real life inspiration. I want to start a blog as well only because of you. I know I can never be as good as you but I can try and always learn from you. Keep posting. I love your articles.
Goa is so lovely the way you described it, Rachel. It does have the perfect vibes of what you can call home.
loved reading your nostalgic blog ” picking up where”, but was a bit sad to see your house taken over by the monkeys.
i too would love to have a winter home in goa after reading soo much about it !
happy writing – love reading your blogs Rachel.
This is such a great post and very important article here in this post you have share your such a great thought with us.
Thanks for the post.
Loved your passion towards travel, I have your ebooks purchased, Ben N Rachel with your pets n omini.. So nice.