Be Like Water—A Lesson Learnt in Goa

Be Like Water—A Lesson Learnt in Goa

When I planned my yoga retreat in Goa, I knew I wanted to go off the beaten path and discover things of which much of the world was blissfully unaware. I scoured the internet and found some incredible waterfalls that I wanted to explore, one of them being Satrem Waterfalls. Little did I know my one tiny search and love affair with the crystal green waters of the waterfall would be an adrenaline-packed adventure that no one would forget.

Day 2 of our retreat had us finishing up a two-hour long yoga class and eating a delicious home-made healthy breakfast. Our bags were packed, trekking shoes and towels taken, we waited with bated breath for our tempo to take us to Valpoi, which was about 55 kms from Margao. We  journeyed through some of the most remote villages in Goa, the air intermittently blanketed by thick fog.

After a long drive, we got down at Valpoi for a quick snack and found a quaint little hotel that served typical Goan style bhaji-pav with fried mirchi that was delicious and soul-filling. With our bellies full, we were ready to get on this adventure.

Initially, the trekking seemed easy. There was an air of excitement and adventure amongst the group, as we walked through jungle paths and mud roads.  One of our students brought along a Bluetooth speaker and trekked with fervour to the tune of the Shiva Tandava stotram—one of the BEST trekking soundtracks you can think of. 

The adrenaline was high and some people decided to jog to make up time for our bhaji-pav break. They say, be careful what you wish for! Just as we were gathering momentum, we reached the base of the hill and then it hit us hard. From being wide, the track narrowed to just over a few inches. At places, we were walking right at the edge of the hill. A misstep and a 50 ft fall into the deep ravine could easily result in a few broken bones.

The path was now becoming treacherous. The trail was inundated with steep climbs quickly followed by sharp descents. The loose gravel underneath was making the climbs and descent a herculean task. During climbs there was barely anything to hold on to. We found ourselves slipping and sliding on the pathways. Some of the group members were huffing and puffing as we clambered over rocks and held on to tree roots for support. As time went by, humidity was already on the rise and what seemed a breeze just a short while ago had turned into a herculean task.

Many in the group asked the dreaded question, ‘Are we there yet? How much longer, Roh? Why do you always make us do monkey things like this?’

I smiled and with an air of nonchalance kept trekking, hoping to get people to follow. Some rolled their eyes at my smile but soon the group followed.

At many points in the trek, you find small ponds and rivulets of water. With the exhaustion one of our members actually slipped and fell in. Her pants and shoes were fully soaked and it was only then we realised how cold the water was. Imagine taking ice water from your freezer and making a river with it—that’s the temperature of the Santrem waterfalls.

Despite the fall, she smiled and chose to persevere. At some places we crossed over huge logs lying across the narrow pathways. We were growing richer by the experience with each passing moment. 

After two long hours, like battle-scarred soldiers, we finally made it to our destination. As we came face to face with the waterfall, the sight took our breath away. The majestic fall was almost vertical from its tipping point. Below the fall, it formed a beautiful azure blue pool. The madness was worth it. 

Without thinking twice, we changed and jumped into the chilly water, swimming till our tired muscles relaxed and turned numb with the cold. Splish, splash and laughs galore—this was one trip we would never forget. 

‘Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it’

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Chinmaya Udghosh