We were looking for something different to do in sunny Goa, we wanted a break from the thick of tourist action, to live like natives of this lovely state. To slow down, breathe easy and yield to the novel experience of an idyllic rural retreat in South Goa.

So we set about lovingly restoring a small house to the full glory of its Portuguese heritage. Renamed Casa de Mendonca, we created a picture postcard pretty house in Velim. Completely furbished with modern amenities, it exuded warmth and serenity.

Time moves at a different pace here in this little village.  We woke up to birdcall and feasted our eyes on green rice paddies.

A trill of cycle bells heralds the arrival of fresh
baked ‘pav’ and ‘poi’ breads that we dunked in
our morning cup of coffee/ tea.

In the cool air of the morning,we strolled down to the lake and watched lotuses bloom and ducks waddle.

If we chanced upon the local toddy- tapper, he offered a swig of the fresh brew straight off the tree.

Hopping on our bikes, we rode down to neighbouring Assolna and right on to the ferry. Chugging across the River Sal and in 10 minutes, we were at the peaceful Mobor beach.

Swimming and sunbathing on the softest of sands;  parasailing over the waters or riding water scooters.

We visited a different beach day, each beautiful, tranquil; and unspoilt. Less than a half hour drive  had us soaking up the sun at Colva, Benaulim, Varca, Cavelossim, Dona Paula and Palolem

We beat the heat with a glass of chilled beer or the heady cashew or coconut ‘feni’ over lots of lime and ice. It’s a seafood gourmand heaven with prawns, lobsters, crabs, calamari and a variety of fish – bekti, mackerel, kingfish and pomfret. And of course, the famed sausages and pork vindaloo. There are plenty of fresh vegetables that are cooked in unique local masalas.

Come evening, we could join in a game of football and worship at the Francis Xavier Church at the village square. Chewed on spicy hot onion and chilli ‘bajjis’ as we mingled with friendly neighbours.

The stars shine clear and close at nightfall; the terrace or the garden are best to sit back and marvel at nature’s beauty and harmony.

When we felt the urge for bright city lights, we drove down to the commercial capital of Madgaon that is 15 minutes from Velim and continue down to Panjim, Calangute and Baga that are just 30 minutes away.

Casa de Mendonca was at first a whimsical indulgence; each time that we went to stay, the house took shape and became a home that radiated warmth and peace.

We don’t own it any more but the memory of the house we built and the time we shared there sometimes by ourselves, at others with friends and family are indelible.