On a writing assignment in Goa, India.

What started as a one-off writing assignment for a boutique hotel in Bali last year, has blossomed, as I had hoped, into a mini-career track. 
I now reach out to boutique hotels along our way, and when it fits our itinerary, I supplement our bare bones low cost travels with dabs of luxury ~  in exchange for stories about our host destinations, either on our blog, or on the hotel’s website.  Aside from the welcome dipping into occasional luxurious comfort, we also enjoy being exposed to new areas that we would probably not discover without the writing opportunities. 
This has turned out to be quite a nice pattern and so far I have written for the 5 star Alila Hotel in East Bali, Frangipani Hotel in Unawatuna (Sri Lanka), Fort Printers in Fort Galle (Sri Lanka), Hotel Maya (Sri Lanka), and  Big Game Camp and Lodge Elephant Safari in Udawalawe (Sri Lanka). 
 My next writing gig is again for Alila, this time for their Alila Diwa hotel  in Goa (India.)
A short one hour flight from Kochi in a Northern direction, gets us to Goa.
Goa is populated with many beautiful old Portuguese mansions, left over from another era when Goa was a major trading center organized by the Portuguese.
These mansions have been handed through many generations and are surrounded by palm trees and rice paddies. Interestingly descendants from Portuguese traders who can demonstrate their lineage, still today, can receive Portuguese citizenship. Many Goan Indians take advantage of this dual citizenship opportunity.
Many in Goa make their living from being fisherman, fishing in the Arabian Sea.
These small boats in a fishing harbour are reminiscent for us, of the colorful wooden boats in Hoi An, Viet Nam where we lived last year for five months.
This is Anjuna beach. We are here out of season so it is rather quiet which is nice, but quite over priced and not our favourite. Pleasant but nothing to get excited about. 
As we travel South from Anjuna towards Alila Hotel we do manage to find a lovely stretch of deserted beach ~ populated only by a few stray dogs,  and some women who are collecting clams for their dinner. 

Happy to find fresh raw sugarcane juice here, a favorite of ours in Viet Nam.

Local women at the beach use their heads to carry large and very heavy concrete blocks which they balance on the circular cloth piece on their heads.
When we arrive at Alila Diwa Goa, we are immersed into a different world of tranquility and luxe.  One of my writing assignment is to focus on the hotels spa offerings ~ such as the Ayurvedic massage treatment. Oh the hardship of a complimentary, hour long deliciously welcome massage in a beautiful environment. Not bad for the weary traveler!
Alila hosts us in the exclusive Diwa Club, a boutique hotel within a larger hotel. 
The infinity pool here is particularly beautiful due to the incredible setting
One of the definite highlights for us  is the large  pool which overlooks the rice paddies and has fun seating within the water. 
This was the huge bathtub in the huge bathroom of our extremely luxurious room with its super comfy and soft cushy bed.
Once fully pampered, we are ready to go on my first assignment, called “Fresh from the Catch”.  
It’s a an opportunity offered by Alila for foodie types to go to market with someone who will introduce ingredients and spices found at the local market. We go to markets whereever we are, but in this case we are accompanied by someone who explains what some of the foreign unknown items are to us. 
The idea is to then come back to the hotel and get a cooking lesson from the Spice Studio chef, preparing the fish picked up at the market.  So off we go to the nearby market.  But on the way, we pass a wholesale fish market and are eager to stop and take a spin around. 
Women proudly offer up the catch of the day in woven baskets at the wholesale market.
The long nosed skinny fish on the blue plastic box is the local “sand fish”.

Selecting fresh greens for a green drink back at the hotel.
Dealing with dead fish is not my thing;  Ben on the other hand, is eager to learn how to clean and prepare sardines, the Portuguese way!  That’s a lifelong skill for a sardine lover (which he is).  
Bens’ selection of fresh fish ready to be prepped for the nights meal.

Chef Edia is a grandmother who learnt Goan recipes and secrets of spice combinations from her mother. She is passionate about food and Goan specialties in particular!

Chef Edia goes through the different spices which make up Goan flavors.
Dewi Puri ~ an Indian street food, one of favourites is offered up at the hotel at tea time. Small thin crispy shells filled with a combination of chic peas, yogurt, chopped tomatoes and spices. A great combination of spicy and creamy at the same time with the added crunch of the small shell.

To read the stories written for Alila Hotel, you can check their blog:http://www.blogalila.com
(It usually takes a month or two for the stories to be downloaded onto their blog.)

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