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True Adventure in North Goa

By Katherine Van Meurs

I've never been more terrified.

Lindsey Stirling's "Crystalize" blared in my earphones as I tried to treat the fear that welled up in me as a learning experience. Gripping the armrests of my seat, I made every attempt to "zen out" and accept what was happening... Turbulence. Very bad turbulence.

I held my face in my hands as the plane's sudden drops became worse. Certain we were going to end our flight in some obscure part of an Indian jungle, I drifted somewhere between total peace and absolute terror. I grabbed the hands of my aisle mates as they tried to console me..

Finally, the plane landed. As it did, the entire cabin of relieved passengers cheered. We were alive. We had paid our dues to the vacation gods.

Shortly after arriving in North Goa, we were guided by a "Jungle Hostel" security guard with a dimly lit flashlight down a rainy street, through a gate, and down a darkly-lit path to a room that did not have A/C or electricity. We gazed around the room, exhausted. When we asked him where the light was, he pointed to a candle sitting next to the bed. We weren't in Kansas anymore.

The heat and humidity was too intense to sleep. At  around 1:00 a.m., we walked down to the local bar and restaurant, The Mango Tree. Even in off season, the restaurants remain open until 4 a.m. in North Goa. There, we met a woman named "G" and a yogi who either didn't know his age or didn't want to tell us. "I am many parties old," he replied with a smile on his face. His coke-bottle glasses enlarging his eyes. The surreal experience began. It felt as if were in at the beginning of a Ryan Murphy movie.

If New Delhi is the Detroit of India, then Goa is its Hawaii. Goa was the ideal escape from the chaos of New Delhi. The streets were clean; the vegetation was lush; and the people were genuine, laid-back, and friendly. The best part was the rain.

The rain meant fewer tourists. The rain meant the experience of taking shelter under a thatched roof with a cow and her calf. The rain meant meeting strangers from other parts of the world, huddled around a bar looking to share a story and a drink. The rain added to the mysticism. The rain baptized you as a true adventurer.