2016 India – Goa


Return to Little Cove, Return to Paradise…

How wonderful is it that after you have travelled a long way, just finished 3 flights, at the moment you leave the airport a well known face is calling out your name and a big smile awaits you as a welcome. And that is exactly what happened to me after arrival in Goa, roughly 22 hours after I had left home on what was a very early start of a long day.

Raj, one of the drivers of Little Cove Yoga Retreat, was already waiting for me and welcomed me to India with a big hug. Welcome back Marc, great to see you again (wobbly head). Not much later we were on our way for the remaining 90 minute drive to Little Cove. The further south we drove the more quiet the area became. I recognized several landmarks from my previous visit but it was only when I saw the hills covered with palm trees descending into the Gulf of Bengal when I was getting really excited. Not long now..

The final 2 kilometers we drove over a rough unpaved path downhill and there it was, my home for the next 3 weeks, Little Cove. Just like on my arrival last year Pardeshi was leading a yoga class and whilst I was zipping a fresh mint tea and enjoying a fresh fruit salad I watched the flow of the class. Immediately I realized it would take me a bit to get used again to the 2 hour class which is far more strenuous than what I am used to at home.

After class Pardeshi came to say hello and thanked me for coming back. And that although I was the one being extremely grateful being back at this magic place. During lunch I met some off the other guests and they turned out to be a friendly bunch of people. Ravi, the new yoga teacher and on site manager, asked me whether I was interested in moving into one of the newer beach side bungalows and once I saw the the view I immediately knew this would be perfect for me. Waking up every with a magnificent view of some coconut trees, the beach and the Arabian Sea, what a stunning way to start a new day.

Lunch was served at the yoga Shala (school) and this is where I met my fellow guests, soon an interesting discussion started. By now the tiredness kicked in heavily so I returned to my bungalow, set the alarm and left the present for a three hour sleep during which I could not have been further away from where I was.

I woke up refreshed and went for a short swim after which I relaxed at the veranda of my bungalow. Instead of yoga in the afternoon we were treated by a group of locals with classical indian music and traditional chanting. I closed my eyes and let the music, which now even seemed to be more intense, come over me like a warm blanket whilst enjoying the heat of the sun setting in my back. It was magic, pure magic.

Dinner was at the newly build restaurant and even better than the year. It was great to meet Sunil, the cook, again and chat with the other guests. Not much later though I went to bed again for a deep and relaxing sleep.

The next morning nothing could have prepared me for my wakeup call the moment the alarm went off. As soon as I opened my eyes I was gobsmacked by the amazing view. Not immediately realizing where I was I was overwhelmed by the light haze still hanging over the calm blue water and a small fisherman boat working on the catch of the day. Good morning world, good morning India. Time for a ginger and lemon tea, time for two hours of yoga… What a way to start the day!

The yoga class was a challenge to say the least. I was having issues with the high pace the poses followed upon each other and was feeling a bit sick by the constant change of standing poses and inversions. Not that I really worried as I remembered vividly a similar feeling the first couple of days last year. And just when I was waiting for the right moment to step back Pardeshi initiated the final relaxation. I was happy and very proud I lasted the session at the very first day.

I decided I had deserved a deep tissue massage and it was nice to see Ram, who also was at the retreat last year, was still around now to do his magic. After my massage I went for a swim and relaxed in the sun whilst listening to some music.

Time passed by quickly and at 6pm the bell rang, the sign that yoga class would be starting soon. This time the class was conducted by Ravi. His class was well structured and clearly taught.  Although it only lasted an hour I was happy it was over. Day no.1 and 3 hours of yoga on the counter, not a bad beginning after all.

Dinner was full of surprises again and my absolute favorites were tandoori style vegetables and paneer in a spicy creamy sauce. I had a wonderful conversation with Nurgul, a girl from Kyrgyzstan who sat next to me and she told me a lot about her country in central Asia, a place that so far I had not considered traveling to. It was a great exchange about culture and habits and I think it was an eye opener to the both of us. By the time it was nine o’clock I started to feel tired again so I headed back to my bungalow for a deep and long sleep.

The day before I had already noticed I had caught a cold but when I woke up things got considerately worse. I was coughing a lot and did not feel well at all. Therefor I decided to skip yoga and slept the remainder of the morning to be waken by the bell which meant lunch was being served.

In the afternoon I laid on the beach in the shade and listened to some music but I must admit I wasn’t particularly enjoying myself as I was frustrated with my cold. I had brought all kinds of medication for whatever could be happening in India but getting a cold was not on that list. Back at my room I decided to lay down for a bit. Maybe it was just good for me to step back from all activities for a day.

I woke up after everybody had gone to the rocks at the end of the beach for a guided meditation so the decision not to join was made for me. After a shower I relaxed a bit and enjoyed dinner. Then it was straight to bed again.

That night I did not sleep well and coughed a lot so I had my morning tea and skipped yoga for the second day in a row. I decided to take it easy, fortunately there are still 2 1/2 weeks to go so I did not feel to bad about missing some classes. I slept a lot that day, in fact over 18 hours in total, I must have needed it.

Next day, although still coughing a lot I felt much better so I had no excuse not to go to the morning yoga session. I could not finish all sun salutations and added in a couple of extra breaks but the pay off came at the end when I was able to do my first ever unsupported headstand. It made me feel very good indeed.

After lunch I found a shady place at the beach where l started to read a book, something I had not done in quite a while. With no distractions around this would be the ideal place to pick up on it. It was a beautiful lazy afternoon. some reading, some listening to music, and the occasional swim when I needed to cool down. With 36 degrees centigrade that was not an unnecessary luxury. At one point a fruit salad was brought to my beach bed and not much later a refreshing cup of mint tea. What else could one wish for…

The next couple of days followed a similar pattern. Two hours of yoga in the morning, a refreshing fruit salad and a tea, followed by a shave and shower. Lunch around midday after which I went directly to the beach to enjoy some music and some sun or treated myself on a deep tissue massage. In the afternoon there was either a second yoga session or a guided meditation on the rocks at the end of the beach.

After the afternoon session a wonderful dinner was served in the newly built restaurant. I had always loved Sunil’s dishes but clearly the new kitchen offered him a lot more possibilities and that was reflected in the food.It is amazing how fast time flew by although not a lot was going on. It seemed to me the daily routine was like a meditation by itself. Every morning the alarm went off at 6:45 after which I had a quick wash and dressed up in my yoga gear. Relaxing at the veranda of my bungalow a ginger lemon tea was served by Vijay and whilst zipping from it I soaked up the breathtaking views and listened to the sound of the crashing waves on the shoreline. Not much later the bell rang, the sign the classes were about to start. As it was far more busy than last year there were two classes. Pardeshi was leading the advanced class, at a high pace and less explanations, whilst Ravi led a more mellow paced class with more explanations for the beginning yogi. I decided to do the advanced class and due time I noticed I was getting a bit more flexible and was even able to get into the more complicated asanas (poses). It made me feel pleased and happy but then, whilst watching some of the extreme Asanas that Pardeshi seemed to do completely effortless, I landed with both feet back solidly on the ground.

It was only because of the Easter greetings I received through Facebook and Messenger I realized it was Easter Sunday. Over here in paradise it was a day like no other, the only difference maybe was that the weather was not that good. It was a bit hazy and cloudy and only every now and then the sun showed itself and brought the temperature up to  just over 30 degrees. Compared to Europe however where it was grey, wet and cold there was no reason to complain.

After dinner there was a cultural dance performance. A group of women from the surrounding villages performed some traditional dances whilst being accompanied by some musicians. it was really nice to experience again but having seen it twice before I silently left in order to make a phone call with Paul.

By now I was getting used to say goodbye to people and tonight was no difference. Once again some people left but others were queueing up to take their places. By now there were over 40 people at the retreat and although I am really extremely happy for Pardeshi’s success, a true reward for his hard work over the last couple of years I must admit I prefer the more intimate feel of a smaller group. Somehow there is a nicer bonding when the group is small. Still Little Cove is like paradise for me though.

Next morning, as usual the alarm went of at 6:45, another day, more yoga and even deeper relaxation. The sun was letting us a down a bit as it was overcast but no reasons to complain as temperatures still were over 30 degrees. In a way it was good to be away from the strong sun for a bit and I enjoyed the remainder of the day listening to music.

With my India trip just having passed the halfway mark I decided to go for a walk to the blue lagoon, two beaches further on. Once there I could not resist a couple of old monk rum with coke and neither could some other guests from Little Cove who escaped the dry zone… It was a lovely afternoon. Will now stick to my yoga regime again till the end of my trip 🙂

It must have been the rum but the next day I overslept and missed the morning yoga session. Oh well… As I missed out on the yoga class I decided to do some yoga by myself in the afternoon instead of joining to the guided meditation on the rocks. It was like a Pardeshi light session but I was extremely pleased that by now I was able to do the headstand without support. Although it is definitely not the goal of yoga to achieve this I was happy as it showed I was getting more control of my body.

Time was flying by fast and it was only when one after of the other of the guests who I spent time with left I started to realize my time was slowly coming to an end. Thoroughly enjoying myself I forgot concept of day or time and it was only during my daily facetime contacts with Paul when I was reminded of the day of the week. When he told me the final preparations for his business trip to hamburg were in full flow I knew my time was coming to an end…

Pardeshi had bought a new house for himself and his family and the Monday before I left was the house inauguration ceremony. About a week earlier he had invited me for this and needless to say I was extremely honored with this. He even got me a nice white traditional outfit so I could come in style. In the morning after yoga class the incite was extended to all guests and so we left to Margoa later in the morning with 8 guests in total.

The drive took us about an hour and when we arrived at the house we saw a large group of people enjoying themselves. Pardeshi welcomed us and introduced us to his wive and both children. By now all the prayers and rituals, which took almost the complete morning, had been completed and the social part was in full swing. We were brought to a separate quiet room where we were brought refreshing drinks and a wonderful thali filled with delicious India food. Then we received a tour of the spacious house and some pictures were made.

It was time to return to Little Cove but not until we were confronted with another surprise that Pardeshi had in mind… We made a stop at a nice fashion boutique and all the ladies were allowed to select a nice traditional dress of their choice. All of  them were speechless.

It did not stop there as at another shop the men were invited to select an outfit. I mentioned I already received a set but that was no good as I was told to go ahead and make my choice

Still speechless we arrived at Little Cove and not much later our yoga class started. In honor of Pardeshi the 8 of us choose to wear our new outfit that night at dinner. He showed up later that evening with some of his family who also stayed at the resort. The morning after we could still see some of them wandering around and enjoying the beach and the spectacular setting. After yoga we did an official foto shoot to show off our new outfit.

By now I started to realize my stay was coming to an end. I can hardly remember a time I felt more relaxed and mellow (unless it was me previous stay at Little Cove). I could not make my mind up, one part of me told me I wanted to stay just that bit longer but the other part of me was ready to go home. It had been good and I can only say I felt extremely, happy and thankful.

I can only conclude that my three weeks at Little cove have been absolutely amazing, three weeks full of yoga and meditation, three weeks full of sun, wonderful organic vegetarian food, three weeks of relaxation pur sang. I enjoyed every single moment of it. Is it because I now better mastered the art of doing nothing, was it the yoga or was it just the fact that I felt so relaxed. It was simply amazing feeling so good during my stay over there. I would like nothing better than to return next year and the year after and… But then, that is looking to far into the future but I am certainly going to discuss this with Paul.

Pardeshi, Ravi, Sunil, Ram, Boram, Vijay, Raj and all the other wonderful staff at Little Cove you have been in one word fantastic. You have created a place so serene, so pure and so special one has to experience it by oneself in order to believe it is true. No wonder the general feeling from people leaving is “wish I could stay just a couple of nights longer”

Namaste and Shukrya, counting the days till next year…