Expat Tales: Discovering Goa with a little bit of Kiwi help

Beach houses at Palolem, one of Goa's best beaches.
Mark Todd

Beach houses at Palolem, one of Goa's best beaches.

This year, we published an Expat Tales article about a Kiwi family who live in Goa, West India. Stuff Travel readers Jackie and Mark Todd came across their story, and were inspired to go and visit.

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What inspired your trip, and when did you go?

Jackie and Mark Todd, celebrating Diwali.
Mark Todd

Jackie and Mark Todd, celebrating Diwali.

The idea came after reading your Expat Tales article about Chloe and Cisco de Souza. They gave up the corporate life in London and moved to Goa with their two young daughters to establish a boutique India travel agency (see latitude22travel.com). The concept of parking up in such an interesting place for a month really appealed.

We went from mid-October to mid-November, just before the high season in Goa. Other than a quick visit to New Delhi and Udaipur at the end of our trip, we spent the whole time in a village in Goa called Saligao. We wanted to chill out and soak up the local atmosphere. Our concept was to take time to connect with the "real" India rather than focus on attractions.

How did you arrange the trip?

School transport, Indian style.
Mark Todd

School transport, Indian style.

We contacted Chloe and Cisco, explained what we had in mind and asked if they could help us put it together. They were simply wonderful in terms of things like finding accommodation (with reliable internet, so Mark could do some work remotely) and connecting us with local people, restaurants, and markets.

Having the help of people on the ground who are passionate about sharing the magic of India was invaluable.

What was the village like?

With an itinerant community from Andhra Pradesh.
Mark Todd

With an itinerant community from Andhra Pradesh.

Saligao is charming, with lots of local colour and Portuguese heritage. It's also a short scooter or taxi ride from the famous tourist strip at Calangute Beach, which has bars, restaurants and shopping.

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What was a typical day?

A 9am yoga class, followed by a leisurely breakfast. In the afternoon we would often scooter to a local sight or new area. Then back for a swim and a G&T (the local gin is super cheap and perfectly palatable) before dinner at one of the many fabulous local restaurants.

Highlights?

For Jackie, it was going with Cisco to take food and essentials to a community from rural Andhra Pradesh who come over to Goa to beg during the tourist season. The smiles and laughter of the kids contrasted sharply with the very basic conditions.

For Mark, it was feeling connected with the village and just soaking up the amazing colour of India. Celebrating Diwali with local friends of Chloe and Cisco was also special.

How expensive was it?

Your money goes a long way in India, especially if you are a little off the beaten track. There is also lots of scope to spend a bit more and treat yourself, eg. the spectacular Sunday buffet lunch at the Grand Hyatt.

How did you get around?

The scooters were a highlight, but Indian driving definitely takes a bit of getting used to. Strange as it seems, it is both chaotic and orderly at the same time.

Any Delhi belly?

Everyone asks us that! No, we were fine despite eating at a lot of local restaurants.

If you know an expat who wants to share inside knowledge of their home away from home, email travel@stuff.co.nz with Expat in the subject line.

 - Stuff

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