I’m writing this post from a lovely little restaurant in Palolem, Goa. The tables are filled with other travellers, quietly tapping at their notepads and laptops, and the dusty street outside is alive with the sound of car horns and busy workers preparing for the start of the tourist season.
Brightly dressed Indian women chatter in doorways and immaculately turned out children skip past on their way to school. The air is humid and the sky hangs heavy, waiting to drop its next monsoon downpour on us all.
It’s a surreal moment, and I don’t quite know whether to burst into tears or laughter as I soak it all in. After two long years of planning and working towards this day, and ten months of blogging about our efforts, we are here in India at last.
It’s official folks; I’m finally a real travel blogger *fist pump*.
Our last week at home was without doubt the hardest week of my life. Our impending farewells hung heavy in my mind and I was fraught with emotion and stress.
Basically I was in a shitty mood right up until we reached the airport.
My heart broke as I hugged my mum goodbye outside the departure terminal and I found myself wondering if all of this was worth it. I failed to choked back my tears and left Lee to struggle with both of our backpacks as I summoned all my energy just to walk away from the car.
We checked in and were fortunate enough to be granted access to the Emirates Lounge, despite our lowly economy tickets; a welcome perk of Lee’s old job as a travel agent. We made our way past the express security channel and through to the lounge, where we indulged in a free breakfast and much needed wifi, as we still hadn’t even bought our travel insurance yet!
With that final, and rather important detail taken care of, we picked up our bags and headed out towards our boarding gate, just as our names were called over the PA system. We quickly made a beeline for the front desk of the lounge, and were greeted by a lovely lady who gave us a broad smile and uttered eight magical little words:
We’ve managed to upgrade you to Business Class.
Suddenly all the turmoil and stress of the last week (make that two years) was replaced with excitement and joy, and I knew that the struggle and heartache was absolutely worth it (yup, all it took was an upgrade!).
Our adventure was finally about to begin – in style.
We settled into our seat-come-beds aboard our Emirates flight and were given a glass of champagne before we had even left the tarmac. We flicked through the movie list on our giant screens and switched our seats onto massage mode whilst giggling like five year olds. We could not believe our luck, and owe a massive debt of thanks to Natalie Kromponi and her colleagues at Emirates, and all the staff at Flight Centre for giving us such an incredible start to our journey.
As the plane took off we reveled in the best flight of our lives, with impeccably mannered flight attendants, delicious meals served on tablecloths and bone china, and connoisseur wine complimented by the finest Godiva chocolates. We almost didn’t want it to end, but India awaited us, and we knew the best was yet to come.
And so now here we are, in the tiny little beach town where we first met five years ago. It is impossible for me not to feel happy here; every corner holds a special memory of my many trips here, and even though I am so far away from my family and friends, they are still here with me as I remember the precious times we shared in my favourite place on earth.
Our days are enjoyed at a far slower pace now as we take time to adjust to our new way of life – and the heat! Living at home in England it was easy to forget how hot is really is over here, and the continuing monsoon leaves the air thick, and your skin permanently damp.
We are renting a sweet little room with a balcony that looks out onto tall palm trees laced with washing lines, where local woman beat their laundry against a large stone set in a clearing, then hang beautifully patterned bed sheets and saris amongst the leafy fronds.
A local friend of ours is taking us house hunting later, and we hope to rent a small house with basic amenities. I’m excited to set up a little writing corner and hang hammocks from which to survey my new home with my lovable Scotsman. We’ve come a long way since that day five years ago, when I laughed as I first saw him strolling along the shore in a kilt.
He has kept me laughing ever since.
And now, just as I sit here wondering how to finish this post, the heavens have opened and the monsoon rains down heavily, hammering the tin roof of the restaurant and soaking everyone outside instantly.
So I guess I’ll just hang around here, order another cardamom lassi and write a little while longer. I’m in no hurry, and have nothing to do but sit and allow the day to unfold. I’m learning to make the most of every moment, come rain or shine.
Because that’s what travel bloggers do.
Disclaimer: We were not asked to mention Emirates or Flight Centre in this post, and received no payment for doing so, we simply wanted to express our gratitude for the amazing upgrade we received. It will suck going back to economy class after such a special experience! Oh, how the other half live…