New Year’s Eve is my favorite night in the year. Not because the partying is the best and the longest, but because the night is so hopeful. Everyone is filled with joy and love, and for at least one night we forget about all the burdens of the past and wish for brighter future. We think: thank you passing year for everything you have taught me; I now welcome the new year with hopes that my dreams will come true.
We set our New Year’s resolutions for hopes of better us and better tomorrow. It does not matter that by the 10th of January we forget them, because at that moment, all that matters is that we realize what we want to be, where we want to be, how we want to be. And when the clock ticks midnight, a certain warmth in our souls whispers that maybe – just maybe – these dreams can become part of our reality in the upcoming year.
Having this in mind, it has always been clear to me why people look forward to this evening. On the other hand, however, it has always been a mystery to me what makes a great New Year’s Eve celebration.
Regardless of how you want to celebrate, there is always a certain euphoria around this night for many of us. Sometimes, precisely because of this euphoria, we think that the New Year’s celebration needs to be somehow extraordinary. So, we spend weeks, if not months, planning and organizing the celebration. However, we often end up perceiving this night only as another ordinary night because our expectations have been too high.
Keep your expectations low: welcome the New Year’s Eve by welcoming surprises
This year, I decided to “go with the flow”. I wanted to avoid the unnecessary stress and disappointment that my celebration isn’t bombastic after meticulous planning. I am of course now being a bit hypocritical, because for those of you who read my blog, know that I am at the moment in India. Therefore, just by being here, my night was automatically special and extraordinary.
Nevertheless, even if you are at the most exotic destination, you still want to have good time. Staying in a dull hotel room is not that. Since Felix and I were staying on this day in Goa, we thought maybe we could go clubbing, or dine out, or stay at the beach.
Goa is the most unexpected face of India. When you think of India, the following comes to your mind: spices, temples, yoga, ashrams, Mahatma Gandhi, Bollywood, the Taj Mahal, wonderful fabrics, clothes and jewelry, poor vs. rich, festivals… but never Goa. Ruled by the Portuguese for around 500 years, it is until nowadays still predominantly Christian. It is famous for its beaches, sea food and bombastic parties, and among Indians it remains “the black sheep of India”. “Oh Goa, Goa is not really India” – many told us on our journey.
Although we were enjoying Goa immensely, by the 30th of December we were still clueless what we will do the following day and night. Several days before, we noticed an agency that organizes all sorts of tours around Goa. I got a flyer from them and was instantly intrigued by a jeep tour through a forest jungle up to a waterfall. How can you be a Jungle Dancer and omit the chance to visit the jungle? 🙂
So on the 30th of December we signed in for a tour on the 31st. For the first time in my life, I spend the last day of the year not by doing my hair or nails, but by wandering in nature. In the jungle! It was glorious. Liberating. Thrilling. Make up free. Stress free. Felt like a “normal” day in the sense that I did not think of the upcoming evening. At the same time, it was one of the most special days, since the trip was really amazing.
Visiting the jungle and the waterfall
We started our adventure at 8:00 o’clock in the morning. We stopped by the Jungle Book for breakfast and then our tour guide booked jeeps for us. Look how cute the Jungle Book is!
Before I tell you about the jeep ride, I have to thank this Universe for making Felix and I cross paths with our guide. He was like a blazing human sun – incredibly fun to be around, optimistic, and very spiritual (as many of the people in India). But that is one of the greatest upsides of India: you often meet people who want to trick you, but when you meet the good ones, you start to think your life has been empty before the conversations with them.
The jeep ride was a 45-minute safari-like journey through the forest. It was the bumpiest ride in my life. Felix and I were sitting at the end of the jeep and we were jumping up and down, and moved left and right as if we were a light bag with groceries, not humans. I felt like we hit every hole on the road and I thought we would also end up hitting a tree any moment. That luckily did not happen. We safely also crossed several rivers and it was really fun to do this. I only hoped that we won’t get stuck and then push the jeep out of the water.
Our driver was also super cool. He was like: “there are no dangerous animals here. Only leopards, spiders, and king cobras. But they are all nice”. There is certain fascination with animals in India, so this is why he talked in this way. Every animal – not just the cow – is somehow holly. Some eat meat, but also many are strict vegetarians (actually vegans, but they call themselves vegetarians).
When we finally reached the waterfall area, we got life vests so that we can go in the water and swim. We also took along food for the small monkeys that we would meet on the way. They were super cute and all they cared about was bananas.
The waterfall was truly stunning. Crowded, but still worth the visit. More than 300m-tall wonder of nature, it gloriously falls on the slope of the mountain and under a bridge. The bridge is actually a train track, so it was fun to see trains passing by there from time to time.
The water was soooo cold. We got used to the warm ocean, so Felix and I were quite shocked when we touched the waterfall water. When you think about it, this is normal, but we just did not. It took us a while to enter. But, once we did, we had a lots of fun. I loved laying on my back in the water and looking upwards. Like this, I saw the waterfall falling from “the sky” and the water splitting in two parts along the cliff. It was meditative-like experience almost.
Sadly, we did not have a lot of time at the waterfall, so after one hour and fifteen minutes we were heading back. We had lunch in the Jungle Book and then we stopped to see, feed, and maybe ride an elephant. Felix and I fell bad about the elephant, so we did not take the ride, but we fell more than happy to share some of our food with her.
Preparing for the New Year’s Eve celebration
In the evening, I really wanted to go dancing somewhere. Few days before New Year’s Eve we checked some clubs online – and there were so many! In the end we decided to go to one of the clubs and buy tickets on the spot. However, a few days before New Year’s eve we ended by chance in one of the shacks (hut-like bars) on the beach and befriended the owners.
They told us that we just have to be on the beach at midnight because it is simply magical. Fireworks, plenty of lanterns, good music, cheerful people were only part of Goa’s benefits for this evening. So we decided to listen to them and maybe go to a club after midnight.
We had a wonderful dinner and the midnight hour did not disappoint. It was everything our friends promised and more. It was my first time to be on the beach for New Year’s eve. To not freeze somewhere while watching the fireworks. Everyone was hugging everyone, wishing lots of happiness and health in the New Year. In this sense it was not that different than any other place. But, the sound, the smell, and the vastness of the ocean gave me such an intense feeling of freedom and joy.
Afterwards, we did not go to a club as we planned to. I felt sad that our plan fell apart and we could not dance, but I decided to still have fun. We stayed around the beach, visited other shacks and ended the night in the shack of our friends. We joked and talked a lot and in the end we went back home on a scooter. I told our friends “we are three people, we cannot ride on one scooter”. He said “this is Goa Ivona. Here anything is possible”. Thus, I ended my New Year’s Eve celebration with this thought. From no plans to anythings is possible.
In many ways, welcoming the New Year in Goa and on the beach has been one of the most wonderful experiences in my life. I felt so happy and free to just have a simple dress that I bought by chance for some 3-4€ the previous day and put my beauty in a focus by an honest and truthful smile; not by alcohol, expensive clothes and heavy make up.
The mystery is resolved: do not stress needlessly about this evening. Spend it with the people you care about, with good wishes in your heart, even if some of your plans fall apart. I know that some of you would think “yeah, easy to say when you went to India”, and there is of course certain truth in this.
But, honestly, when we did not manage to enter in a club, I was so sad that I almost cried. I told to Felix “I just want one night in the year when I can party and dance all night long. Is it too much to ask?”. And it is not, of course, but why stay so focused that this night has to be New Year’s Eve? I can dance plenty in Berlin. I got my mood back by realizing that all that matters is that I am with Felix, and we are healthy, happy, and blessed in so many ways.
May the coming year and decade be just as happy and and unexpectedly fulfilling for you as the New Year’s Eve was for me. Let many of your wishes come true. May you, your family and friends be healthy and loved. To a prosperous year: be blessed my friends! Namaste.