The beautiful area called Fontainhas…also known as the Latin quarter. Beautiful architecture of an era gone by, old villas and buildings with projecting balconies painted in traditional colors.
It was in the late 18th century that an expatriate Antonio Joao de Sequeira while working in Mozambique, established Fontainhas. Today another Antonio…a Goan expatriate has reclaimed one of the villas and converted it into a beautiful homestay called Mateus.
Fontainhas means little fountain and it got its name from the foot of the hill which began to sprout in 1770. In 1884 a Government administrator created the Phenis fountain, which had a fine façade and porch. There is a well which till today epitomizes the beauty of the place.
Unfortunately many of the old houses are falling into a neglected condition. Lucky there are people like Antonio who brings the place back again to its former glory.
In the past an evening in the Fontainhas would see unmarried women sitting on the roofed gallery steps, wearing colourful flowery dresses, chatting with their neighbours in Portuguese. Or perhaps violinists strumming their instruments. Mateus has retained those balconies which gives the place so much character.
It’s important to hang onto the small parts of Goa’s heritage…..its part of a treasured legacy.
The evergreen fir tree has traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals- Pagan and Christian. Pagans used branches of it to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as it made them think of the spring to come. The Romans used Fir Trees to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia. The first documented use of a tree at Christmas and New Year celebrations is argued between the cities of Tallinn in Estonia and Riga in Latvia! Both claim that they had the first trees; Tallinn in 1441 and Riga in 1510. The ‘Brotherhood of Blackheads’ put up both trees, which were an association of local unmarried merchants, ship owners, and foreigners in Livonia what is now Estonia and Latvia.
And this is a record of some of the happenings in Goa during the Christmas week? Lets talk about the Christmas tree. Decorated in many styles…the one at the Grand Hyatt hotel was one to be remembered.
The elves? Santa had its very own way of getting them to visit this year.
But before these celebrations close to 300 kilos of assorted dry fruits were mixed with cinnamon, nutmeg and generous amounts of liquor (more than 25 litres) which will be stored at room temperature in the bakery, to soak in all the liquid and mature beautifully in time for the festive season. This marinated assortment of dry fruits will be incorporated while baking delectable cakes, puddings and other delicacies. The longer the mix is retained, the tastier will be the Christmas cake.
Now Park Hyatt really did things in style.
As the name suggests, this was one festival that will be imprinted on the minds of people for a long time to come.
And that does not only mean the ‘imprints’ only
From music to food…it was the exploration of everything that took place.
Even the ‘teeny boppers’ walked down Serendipity Street
And it was here that Goan folklore came to the fore. Saraswat Stories
And for the finale…..the roof came down. That was the ‘Sea’ that no tide in Goa ever brought forth.