Goa for New Year’s. Sounds like the worst idea ever. And it nearly was. Over crowded beaches, flashing lights, cheap drinks, cheaper Bollywood numbers, soul searching hippies… you got that right.
Luckily for us we found a little haven, not too far from the busy North Goa beaches (but far enough to escape the morbid party scene). We stumbled across this place on our way back from the weekly flea market, which as you might have guessed was crawling with people and not at all like it used to be. It was tucked away in an obscure gali. What drew us in was the sound of jazz, smell of wood oven pizzas, and the lovely energy.
This was the place we had been looking for (not in a Waiting for Godot kinda way) but really looking. We had been meaning to come here for a while as it was run by a friend. As luck would have it, the vibes happened to take us there.
The entire place has been built by hand using completely natural materials. The houses have palm trees as the main support, accompanied by structures made of mud, wood and bamboo weaves.
These double occupancy ‘Earth’ houses range from Rs. 900 to Rs. 5100 (including breakfast) depending on when you book, December being the most expensive. The beds are very comfortable, the linens and cushions delightfully colourful and very tastefully done. The beds are draped with (much needed) mosquito nets.
The best part is the way they have built the entire house around nature, incorporating plants, existing trees and little elements that gave the place such an earthy, quirky touch. The bathrooms have bath tubs and sinks made of mud balancing on cleverly placed branches. Even the toilet paper holder is made out of curly wurly twigs. Yes, I spent a suspicious amount of time just sitting on the pot looking around, thoroughly amused!
Slightly on the cheaper side are the tree houses ranging from Rs. 700 – Rs.1100 again very colourful and trippy.
The cheapest and the most affordable are the dorms that go upto only Rs. 400 even during peak season. There are enough fans and a lot of space to move around.
The earthy feel really draws you in. It took a while to tear myself away from the rooms and make my way to the common area, an insanely chill place. A hard core believer of Pepperoni and bacon toppings, I sinned and couldn’t help but try the Vegan pizzas they offer. So good!!!! Try the mushroom three cheese pizza and definitely try the soup of the day by the amazing in house chefs Zora and Hannah.
The pizza oven has also been built by hand by the scores of volunteers that Saraya sees every month. They have built their own stunning jellyfish lamps, giant dreamcatchers and also have little bead earrings and necklaces for sale. So yes, if you have been wanting to travel and volunteer, Saraya would be the perfect place to hone your skills and contribute to this little ecostay.
Saraya also has a small gallery where they feature local artists. The artwork is fresh and it is always great to encourage locals. They also host cooking, storytelling, dance and music workshops and performances, again getting local talent and travellers together. There is so much to do!! You will never want to leave this place.
So go on… Log onto https://saraya.in/ and book your stay sooooon!