Written by- Archana Pisharody
“Making Goa a part of a multi-destination holiday in the Konkan region does not take much thought…obviously. But experiencing Goa through its villages (a random suggestion from a friend and travel enthusiast) is as unconventional as it is fascinating. Best done under the aegis of the expert, a friend and I chose to go with Nativefolks, not just for its name, but also because the travel enthusiast friend was one of its own and a Goan herself.
So Goa for me this time began at Cancona station in the beginning of October, where we were received by Mahesh, our guide and a driver Mr. Umesh. We had a long drive (nearly 3 hours) through the dense, vast and beautiful Netravali wildlife sanctuary. Our destination, Verlem, was a village nestled in the sanctuary, so deep within, that the only spot where one can catch mobile network is somewhere on a slope out of the village. Our hosts were Mr. Gajanan and family who warmly welcomed us to share their village life for the one and half day we spent at Verlem. Thatched roofs, cow-dung flooring, toilets outside the house in the backyard and a cow-shed, it was all there. This was not just a model village created for a holiday experience, but the other way around. It was a holiday experience built into the village life.
While the family did not speak anything but konkani, communicating with them was never a problem. We loved the food, the surroundings and the bathroom! It had a fireplace heating a large vat of water within with the space for bathing next to it and woven coconut leaves making up its walls. In our short stay there we managed to pack in an evening walk up a nearby hill that offered a panaromic view of the Western Ghats with its plush monsoon greenery, some early morning and very gratifying bird watching and a bath at a waterfall that was cozily hidden in the sanctuary accessible only by a 45min “walk in the jungle”, all thanks to our guides, who were residents of the village themselves.
While one can’t leave Goa without a glimpse of some sun, sand and church, we ditched the usual beach resort for the old Goan experience at a Nativefolks homestay on the Divar island. As if the excitement of needing a ferry to get in and out wasn’t enough, our hosts, the very warm and welcoming Mr and Mrs. Augustine were equally enthusiastic about helping out with places to visit. The rest was well mandatory, the never out-of-fashion church and beach hopping on a rented scooty, some unavoidable Goan food and liquor. In closing, we didn’t mind missing the beach-shack experience at all because watching the shacks being built from scratch while the beaches primed themselves for the oncoming tourist season as we sipped some awesome Goan fenny made up for it!