Week Thirty-Eight: An Indian Christmas

20/12/18-26/12/18

Country: India
State: Goa

Distance cycled: 125km / 78mi
Elevation cycled: 946m / 3,104ft

In the words of Noddy Holder: it’s Christmasssss.

Christmas is the main event of the year for both of our families. It’s a time when they get to act that little bit more mental and nobody questions it. Christmas Day nightcaps usually roll into Boxing Day daylight hours. The second meat – because you’ve got to have at least two – is often BBQ’d outside in the rain, snow, or freezing temperatures. And Nana never ceases to surprise, as she casually sips whiskey and lemonade before noon, then thrashes everyone at Cards Against Humanity. It’s all madness. We love it and were sad to be missing it. That being said, we put every effort into making our Indian Christmas just as memorable. Partly to cure the homesickness we’ve been feeling and partly because it was the first Christmas Day we’ve spent together in the 4 years we’ve been in a relationship. That effort all started with a festive postcard… 

You’ve probably seen this several times now, apologies, but here it is again (twice). We actually shot this on the rooftop of our hotel in Diu a couple of months ago. Then it took a further few weeks to get Dan to stop watching Spooks and edit it, before we could send it out in early December. 

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Then came our Christmas gift in the form of a week off in Goa. We weren’t meant to do that. We had expected to be another 350km further down the coast for Christmas – we’d even looked at booking a hotel there. Both enjoying the comforts of Goa, the idea to spend a week there didn’t need to be suggested twice, we just downed tools and headed straight for the bar. It was a holiday from a holiday, if you like – Merry Christmas! That’s when we started spiralling into a pair of lazy, forgetful and sun-kissed beach-hopping bums, through a copious amount of beer, gin and chicken. 

Despite being total beach bums, we did manage to tick a few important things off our to-do list. We got the compulsory Yellow Fever vaccine at Devine Medical Clinic in Margoa ready for East Africa. It was a bargain at £24 each. We also fixed the four bust inners tubes, which we’ve been meaning to do for a while, and we cleaned and checked the bikes. Then we got back to beers.

The hardest decision we had to make each day was which beach bar to lay horizontal at…

The hardest decision we had to make each day was which beach bar to lay horizontal at…

…then we’d literally stay put until the sun had gone and it was time to go home (beach: Palolem).

…then we’d literally stay put until the sun had gone and it was time to go home (beach: Palolem).

We always had enough energy for some sea kayaking or bodyboarding. Who am I kidding? That requires next to no energy – the waves do the work.

We always had enough energy for some sea kayaking or bodyboarding. Who am I kidding? That requires next to no energy – the waves do the work.

See the hilly island in the background? Each of the three days we spent on Palolem beach, we said we’d walk there. We never did.

See the hilly island in the background? Each of the three days we spent on Palolem beach, we said we’d walk there. We never did.

DOMINOES.

DOMINOES.

Of course we got takeout.

Of course we got takeout.

Accommodation was expensive, especially over Christmas. Now when I say expensive, I mean expensive for cycle tourers living on a minimal budget like us. We were paying around £15 per night which, if you remember, is actually our full daily budget. Totally worth it though.

Accommodation was expensive, especially over Christmas. Now when I say expensive, I mean expensive for cycle tourers living on a minimal budget like us. We were paying around £15 per night which, if you remember, is actually our full daily budget. Totally worth it though.

Maybe we’d had too much sun (or gin) because we stupidly decided to try and cook a Christmas dinner on our camp stove, as a bit of fun. Logistics were a struggle, I must admit. Then on Christmas Eve, as if Santa himself was watching over us, we found Christmas hats and enough veg to attempt the big feast. Sadly no gravy, which blasphemy for a northerner, and the hats were too small. But it didn’t matter. Christmas dinner was on. 

Cooking a Christmas dinner on a camp stove on the terrace of an Air BNB, then keeping it all warm to take to the beach, didn’t come without its challenges. But we got there in the end. And at 3.30pm, a few hours later than planned (Christmas dinner is always late), we dashed like Dancer to the beach armed with our food and a mini bar, before ordering the secret ingredient: a whole tandoori chicken. OMG. Dan broke his 4 month meat fast.

Big head or small hat?

Big head or small hat?

There was no overnight oats in sight. For Christmas breakfast we ate scrambled eggs and mushrooms on toast.  Toast . All done on the camp stove.

There was no overnight oats in sight. For Christmas breakfast we ate scrambled eggs and mushrooms on toast. Toast. All done on the camp stove.

Our Air BNB host brought us some festive Indian treats on Christmas morning. This definitely helped it feel Christmassy, as it was like scoffing a full selection box, which is a must before 10am.

Our Air BNB host brought us some festive Indian treats on Christmas morning. This definitely helped it feel Christmassy, as it was like scoffing a full selection box, which is a must before 10am.

Christmas veggies chopped and prepped.

Christmas veggies chopped and prepped.

Let’s get cooking.

Let’s get cooking.

Never mind beach body ready, we were beach bar ready with our inconspicuous bottle of gin and one too many limes.

Never mind beach body ready, we were beach bar ready with our inconspicuous bottle of gin and one too many limes.

And there we have it: Christmas dinner. Tandoori chicken, mashed potato, honey-fried carrots, okra, aubergine and naan bread. All still hot. Not bad, if we do say so ourselves.

And there we have it: Christmas dinner. Tandoori chicken, mashed potato, honey-fried carrots, okra, aubergine and naan bread. All still hot. Not bad, if we do say so ourselves.

Merry Christmas (beach: Galgibag).

Merry Christmas (beach: Galgibag).

Boxing Day, as you would expect, was spent on the beach eating even more indulgent food. You could have rolled us home by the end of it. What a week of being absolute piggies. We’re getting worried at how little motivation we have to bring this holiday from a holiday to an end. So to end in the words of Elvis: oh why can’t every day be like Christmas?