Well, that’s how it made me feel!
Saturday saw us take off on our meanderings through Goa after a week-long break during which hubby was in Delhi. With the family united, and the weather suitable (a steady but light drizzle and a cool breeze), it was time to go exploring again!
This time, we headed for Divar, an island in the Mandovi River, no more than a 10-minute ferry ride from Old Goa, the old state capital when the Portuguese still ruled here. I had never set foot on the island and hubby was no better, having last visited in 1988, to examine polio cases for his doctoral thesis (there were 4)! The trip had that expectant quality – the excitement that comes from knowing there’s something special coming 🙂 I had heard great things about Divar from a cousin (who’s a native) and was prepared to be swept of my feet…but that’s later…
On the way to the ferry crossing at Old Goa, quite by accident, we stumbled upon another heritage monument, The Church of St. Cajetan, an impressive building, built in the 17th century. There was nobody around, just some workers in the garden and a couple of tourists inside. The whitewashed interiors were stunning – cool, calm and peaceful in the usual manner of churches. In the garden were more unique finds – an old gate from the Adilshah’s Palace and a fluorescent orange mushroom sprouting from a massive tree trunk on display!
After a pleasant half-hour, we finally started toward the jetty and were lucky enough to find a ferryboat waiting. In under 10 minutes we got our first glimpse of sleepy, green, dewy Divar 🙂 My first thoughts were of travelling back in time, as though instantaneously transported to some long forgotten era, when people were few and Nature reigned supreme! A single road led us from the jetty into the village, flanked on either side by Mangroves and paddy fields and myriad birds. I don’t know my birds, but we did see a whole host of them, including several kingfishers, gulls, ducks and a pair of kites fishing for their afternoon meal. I must brush up my bird-watching skills! The isle of Chorao, next door, is home to the Salim Ali bird sanctuary and so it’s no surprise that there are so many of them here. We stopped on the road to turn back and catch glimpses of Old Goa and the St. Cajetan Church we had just left.
Then we just drove, on a whim, wherever the roads led. We tried them all, up a slope to the inevitable Church and just below it, the inevitable temple, overlooking intensely green paddy fields as far as the eye could see. Along tiny winding roads flanked by old houses, some quaint, others flashy and gaudily painted. Down more winding roads to two more ferry crossings and discovered what looked like a resort, Devaaya, next to one, which after research on Google, turned out to be an Ayurvedic Spa! I found Divar sleepy even by Goan standards, but that’s an integral part of its charm. I’m surprisingly thrilled that no bridges have been built across the river here, just yet, because that would just bring unwelcome change and bustle to this quiet, quaint village.
The visit took me back to the times when as a schoolgirl, I holidayed in just such another village, the green, rustic, sleepy village of Amona, my ancestral home in North Goa. Times have changed, and it is unfortunately, no longer, as green or virgin as it used to be. Instead, we now have an enormous iron-ore mine and processing facility that mean pollution, increasing temperatures in summer and noise pollution all year round 😦 Such is the price we pay for progress. Well, people have jobs and that’s something, I guess.
But yes, Divar, what we saw of it, is thankfully untouched by that kind of progress. The air here is still crisp and lightly scented, the fields bejeweled, the atmosphere quaint and cozy, and the pace of life I’m certain, calm, relaxed & unhurried. It’s almost as if the island had grit its teeth and dug in its heels, firmly resolved to resist allegedly progressive change and preserve instead, a simple lifestyle in commune with nature, and I for one say Amen! It really is the ‘Isle’ that time forgot…at least for now…and with luck for a long time to come 🙂
Here’s to many more wanderings in sleepy Divar!
p.s. On the way back in the ferry, a fisherman on board, caught a little crab all in the space of a few seconds, using a simple plastic line! Ishaan was very thrilled indeed! I asked to take a picture, which I include here!
This time, tried my hand at making a video of the pics. It’s my first attempt, so please forgive any mistakes!