In my travels, I'd usually planned my trips around temples and mountains, beaches being afterthoughts if there happened to be one in the area. Maybe growing up a ten minute drive from St. Marie's Bay and the spectacular Nova Scotia shoreline made the idea of traveling to a beach less exciting, less exotic, where as growing up in a mountain-less place full of Churches, I still get a thrill walking the path to a mountain temple, hearing the sound of the temple bell, smelling the fragrant old wood beams in the Zen Halls, listening to the chants of the robed monks.
Thinking back to Nova Scotia, again, I think for many of us living along the French Shore, with the fading and chipping paint of the church steeples, the rustic, non-developed beached is where we find spiritual solace. For me and many others, Mavillette beach is the most sacred place in our hometown existence, but depending on where you lived, people often had their own little pockets of sand uniquely intimately to them.
We got off the bus after the 15+ hour/500 km ride, comfortable enough in our overnight bunkers above the regular seats. We piled into a jeep to take us the long drive to Palolem Beach, and I thought about how little time I'd spent at beaches since leaving Nova Scotia. I still felt like I was being a lazy traveller, but arriving in Palolem, it was easy to put those thoughts aside!
We followed Nadine and Pascal, our new Swiss friends, to a set of beach hunts Nadine had stayed at before, just a short stroll into the palm trees from the beach. Palolem had been one of Goa's best kept secrets until recently, and though it was still considered one of the more secluded beaches, the beach was lined with restaurants and beach huts, tucked into the overhanging grove. The place was still stunning, though.
Our first two nights in Goa were the last two nights of the monsoon, but on the first evening the afternoon showers cleared just long enough to reveal one of the most spectacular sunsets I'd ever seen, and any reservations I had of "wasting" a week on a beach vanished. I don't think Buddha's travels ever brought him to any beaches, but I'm sure he'd agree that it Palolem isn't such a bad place to learn how to stop...