We ignore the lonely planets advice on not to attempt the drive to Ponda on a scooter and hire one for the day in an attempt to visit one of Goa’s many spice farms. It is no mean feat and the drive to the small town of Ponda is less than well signed. After much frustration and a lot of help from some well meaning locals we arrive at Sahakari Spice farm only an hour after the estimated two hour scooter ride.
For me it was worth the drive. On arrival we are greeted with the traditional Hindi red dot on the forehead and adorned in flowers. Following this we are fed delicious lemongrass tea and cashew nuts. The entire farm is 140 acres and we are given a tour of a small section. Our Indian guide shows us many of the different spices grown on the farm and explains their medicinal benefits and how to concoct them.
During our tour we are lucky enough to spot a very large female elephant being taken for her afternoon bath. Of course this is the highlight for us and completely detracts from the spice tour. To finish our tour our guide tips cold water down our backs in an attempt to ‘modernise’ the ancient tradition of cooling off in the lake after a hard day n the spice fields. The ice cold water is said to refresh the senses. This is then followed by a buffet lunch and a shot of cashew Fenni (an extremely potent Goan spirit derived from the cashew flower. It is believed that a small shot of the drink aids digestion and legend has it that if you don’t drink the spirit whilst in Goa your trip is not complete and you must return. I can’t work out if this makes me want the drink or not.
Thanks to Brent’s in-built radar the trip home is quicker and only requires one stop to ask directions. At one point I sense a large vehicle hovering over our scooter and turn around to face a gigantic red truck. I look up and the Indian driver must see the fear in my eyes because he gives me the biggest grin and Indian head wobble I have ever seen and backs off.