It’s a parent’s fantasy to get away for the winter, no? But not just for a week on a Disney cruise. That kind of holiday actually frightens me. Perhaps because I am a child of the 70s now with children of my own, I was seeking a holiday where I could enjoy myself, and my kids could too. I have a theory that when I am happy, my kids are happy. We all found the answer to our family needs in Goa, India. We decided to stay in a village called Anjuna, because a friend of mine Didi, said it’s the best.
Yes, I know, India has a wildness to it. It’s one of those places where you need vaccination shots, and you need to wash your hands and you can’t drink water from the tap, and yes, the roads are nuts. But think of Goa as “India light”. It’s a great place to enter the eastern wildness and awareness that India offers, but it’s a relatively safe place for children and women alike to settle in for a month or two or more.
After I heard about the beautiful community in a small beach village called Anjuna, what made the whole trip for 6 weeks irresistible is that my children would be able to go to school there. Some established hippies, then with kids of their own, set up a school in Anjuna, which starts young at pre-school ages, up until Grade 6. It’s called the Holistic Yellow. Taught in English by local Indian and international teachers, you as the parent can have your days free to explore Goa, do yoga, work remotely, sunbathe, or sleep, while your kids enter a small paradise of freedom and fun.
The Holistic Yellow School, was founded by Karl John Shenton, a father of 2 boys – now both at the school. He’s studied and learned from many pedagogical systems over the years and has built his own style, where a kind of freedom and wildness prevails. While my 5 and 7 year olds were there for 5 weeks they met friends from all over the world, some speaking 5 languages; they got to swim, go to water parks, discos, played endlessly with glitter and crafts, planned a large dance festival, and most importantly were hugged and loved by the warm staff.
When we entered the children to the school, we told them that they don’t need to learn anything. I’d been homeschooling English, and they go to a slower-paced school in Israel where one of them is just starting to read and do math. We were under no stress for them to learn anything and the Holistic Yellow staff were gracious about that.
The kids felt at home from the first day and couldn’t wait to go to school the next day. While it’s hard to get my boy dressed in the morning in Israel, where we live, in India he was motivated to put on his clothes and his shoes well before the time.
Another great thing about the school is that there are vegetarian options for my kids who keep a kosher diet. For others, as vegans or vegetarians there is a strong awareness in Goa to other’s eating habits thanks to Hindu influences and a very multi-national community, many of whom are vegetarian.
The Holistic Yellow School won’t break your bank either. It cost us a modest 14,000 rupees a month, about $240 USD per child, making it a great alternative for parents and people who want a real holiday of a month or more to get into the vibe of India. They accept drop ins and cater to the travelling community.
Consider that what makes the school so charming and the kids so great is that they are the offspring of the Goa hippies, many from the trance scene that started in the 80s. The kids are world-travelled, balanced, fair and open-minded. Once you experience the Yellow School and visit there you will know exactly what I mean.
If you are lucky your children will connect to the others and you will have an instant community where you will meet other parents full of positivity. Not a “normal” one in the crowd. We were invited to birthday parties, disco parties, and unusually good dinner buffets with our new friends.
There is no simple way to sum up what the Goa experience is. It’s not Pura Vida like Costa Rica. It’s not Same Same, But Different like Thailand. It’s just amazing for the spirit. Because going to Goa is mostly like going to visit yourself, the version of you that you like in your dreams.
While I love my kids, I also love being my own person and the Holistic Yellow gave me the chance to be that too, on holiday.