25. Welcome to Wonderland. Arambol-Anjuna

Goa is not India, it’s a way of life. And it definitely needs a whole article. Or a chapter in a book. Our planned 1 week there extended to 3 weeks mostly because of one crazy guy who decided to create a place where “pure sense of joy” and freedom makes you wanna stay there forever. Welcome to Wonderland.

Getting there didn’t go easily though. After unsuccesful day of hitchhiking we got to Goa the next morning changing trains three times during the night. Fresh like a morning breeze we got to Arambol with a help of a Spartan-looking Russian guy who took us by bike directly to Arambol beach. That was our first Russian experience in Goa and you must know that Russian is the second official language there. Our hosts were Russians as well. And like most of them, they couldn’t speak much English. But they had a lovely apartment and Alina was a great cook so we had really relaxed 3 days there. We attended a short meditation session during Tantra festival and have seen an amazing hand pan concert on Arambol beach. The centre was too crowded and touristy for me but the northern beach definitely had a hippie spirit. Hearing about famous Shiva Valley we went to Anjuna by motorbike where after few hours of raving we got stopped by the police. Rs 300 and problem was gone.

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Crowded beach in Arambol

We didn’t find any cs in Anjuna so we decided to check few hostels recommended by our friend from Mumbai. Most of them were too expensive so we reached the hostel called Wonderland. And that was it. A guy with a long hair and cool sunglasses looking like an Indian Jimmy Hendrix waved to us from the other side of the road. Awesome chilling area and 100% relaxed atmosphere made us stay. Sandeep was an inspiring person, always smiling, always ready to help, Enjoy-your-life guy, I’d say. He left his job as a banker and moved to Goa to create his own wonderland. As the place was quite new Sanman convinced us to stay longer and help him in the hostel as Callum is a carpenter. We couldn’t refuse such offer.

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Goa, far away from the tourist hub

The first night was probably one of the best. The hostel was full of people including a German rastaman Chris that I really got on well with. He was doing an internship in a hospital in the other state and although on a wheel chair he had more energy than any of us. That night we prepared an amazing fish and prawns barbeque altogether and had a real jam session with drums and oukulele. Purely magical night. Rastaman was leaving the next day so we spent the whole morning singing Janis Joplin and playing drums in the chilling area. After his taxi left I felt it would be really difficult to leave this place…

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Wonderland’s chilling area 😉

I’ve never really liked trance until I went to Russian Christmas. Hilltop, the best club in the area, was quite expensive but we managed to get in with Sandeep for free. One tab and the party started. But it wasn’t a normal party. All the people were just crazy. So was I. We danced for about 12 hours non stop and the mission of the night was to transfer as much energy as I could to the people. So wherever I noticed low vibes, I jumped there and soon everyone danced like crazy. That’s how I met two great guys, a “blue T-shirt man” and one dressed like Afghani terrorist. They knew what “full power” means. When sunrise came the only thing I heard besides hypnotic psy trance music was “Good morning!!!” shouted by Sanman. And that was the best part of the party, when you could see the faces of the people that you danced for the whole night with. Full connection. I tried to get to the beach to swim but as there was no gate we ended sitting on the fence admiring the coast. Nobody wanted to go home but as music finished at 10 am we had to come back to Wonderland.

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Team work in the kitchen

After a party there was always an after party. I had so much energy that I pulled Varun out for a bike trip. He stayed with Sanman for few months helping him with the business and the website. Do you know these moments when you meet someone and you feel like you’ve known this person for years? That was one of them. Probably I’ve never met purer, kinder and as honest person as him before. He inspired me by his good heart, motivation and desire to help the others and athough he was rarely in the hostel (helping takes time!) we stayed close till the end. That night a girlfriend of Sanmam – Claire – arrived and joined us in creating a psychedelic painting masterpiece. I helped a little by my invisible farbs after what ostentatiously passed out. Afterparties are good. From then on in the chilling area there was always 4 of us, chilling, drumming, painting. Although my friends know how difficult it is for me to sit on my ass Goa is a place where I truly learned how to relax. Besides chilling, cooking and doing yoga with our sweet Nana teacher I also helped Callum with his small carpentry jobs.

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Yoga class with Nana

Many people passed through the hostel but the most memorable were definitely a great spririted drummed Pavan, Priyank, who stayed with us for long and we could rely on him in every situation, John- very smart and funny English guy and Sean & Doirrean- an Irish couple that we got on really well with. They had the same route as us so we promised to see each other again in Burma. As they were less lazy than us they dragged us out few times to the beach so we felt a little less useless. Finding a good live music in Anjuna wasn’t really successful so we sticked to psy trance. Parties in Vagator were one of the best. Especially one on the beach where we had a “full power” night with the guys until 11am. The best part of our after parties were the meals in Dee cafe where our friend Deepak (the owner) always welcomed us with a big smile and a full understanding of our situation. I will never forget his masala dosas and a morning when he saved my life offering Sprite after all night raving.

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Every day’s drumming sessions

Even though Sanman tried to convince us to stay and open a business with him (“Klaudiusz cafe”?) we had to leave, mainly because of our visa to Burma and my ADHD. Before that we had to visit Shiva though. And that “Shiva” was definitely the best. We danced until 11 am, jumping from one group to another in the end I collected a small football team with one English, Russian, an Indian Jesus from Assam, one Romanian with a pony tail, one pokemon-hat-guy, a rastaman and one shy Japanese guy with a magical ball that I borrowed few times. Whenever I thought I lost my people I turned around and there he was- Priyank in his yellow jacket raving in every corner of Shiva. I just love this guy. I also met my mates from previous raves and few trance dinosaurs: an English Moses trying to protect me from the evil and a 60-years old gradma with blue dreadlocks and the sweetest voice ever. All these people were happy but I also know many of them were stuck there and never came back home, spending their lives on constant parties and drugs. That’s why it’s good to visit Goa but not for too long;)

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Wish I met them again. Unforgettable Shiva.

After building few sandcastles we came back home to celebrate our last day in Wonderland. I was slowly saying goodbye to everyone so I spent the whole afternoon with Deepak and Varun. We prepared the last barbeque and chilled for few hours with the guys but as Callum twisted his ankle we went to sleep early. Next day Varun and Priyank took us by bikes to the bus station where we took a bus to Gokarna. Although I knew I would come back I couldn’t stop tears coming to my eyes when I had to leave Sanman, Claire, Varun and the other guys. Goa taught me a lot. Although it made me question my values a bit, it gave me hope that good people exist, you just have to look for in the right places. It taught me how to relax, share and listen to my soul, but the most important- “Enjoy my life”. So if you ever have difficulties with any of these visit Wonderland, Sandeep will definitely help you;)

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