Let's Goa to Paradise!
Trip Start Nov 05, 2010
137Trip End Ongoing
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We made it to the last part of our India adventure. Time for some long awaited, beach, sun and sand! Ready to kick off our runners and slip on our sandals for some major beach bumming. Goa is such a beautiful place, blessed with an abundance of beaches, palm trees, coconuts and friendly people (even though some are touts). Before we arrived to Goa, Sasha contacted a past co-worker who he worked with in TO and left around the same time Sasha did. The difference was that Sasha made traveling his full time venture for the past 16 months while his friend, Vernon, went back to his hometown in Goa to manage his family resort.
Vernon picked us up from the train station and kindly brought us to his resort. It was perfect for us, right on the beach and away from all the hustle and bustle of the city.
We made a day trip out of it and visited Panjim and Old Goa. In Panjim, the state capital, it felt like we were back in Denpasar or Phuket Town: a local hub but not a tourist destination. Getting off at a chaotic bus station we realized we were not at the centre and there was no single tourist in sight. The heat was scorching and the roads were very hostile to pedestrians. Looking at our book, we realized that we didn't really need to see anymore of that town and after having a nice lunch we hopped on a local bus which took us to Old Goa.
Old Goa used to be the heart of Portuguese India. Now, it is nothing but three large churches that are in urgent need of restoration. There are a few stores at the main road but nothing else. There were a few groups of Russian tourists that we tailgated and listened to their guide. Sasha was "undercover", as Dasha joked.
The museum was very informative. Sasha learned quite a bit about the 450 years of Portuguese rule in Goa. After Vasco da Gama discovered a sea route to India the Portuguese sent a fleet that established trading posts on the west coast of India. Goa became the most important one which housed the Viceroy’s residence. Besides the old churches lots of Portuguese influence which is still visible in that state. While few Goans speak any Portuguese and English is much more common these days, there is no doubt about the origin of the Sunday mass, the seafood with wine, the siesta and the football on the beach.
Life's a beach
Looking back, our 2.5 months in India was incredible. Despite lots of ups and downs, we had mostly positive experiences. "Thank God!" Dasha thought, she learned to be more adaptable and flexible. "Traveling through India really challenges you, sometimes you are faced with experiences that one would never think of living in the Western world." She referred to stepping on cow dung, peeing in public, eating with hands, and riding without seat belts. "Stuff like this I wouldn't think twice about doing in Toronto. In India, it's completely a different story!"
We heard the parable about the five blind men at least twice in India. It goes like this: "when a number of blind men touched an elephant they viewed their experience differently. The first one touched a trunk and said the elephant felt like a snake. The second one touched the leg and said the elephant was a "tree." The third one believed the elephant was a "wall". India is just like that elephant."
"Same, same, but different."
Urban poverty of Gorakhpur, Agra and Old Delhi is very different from the mountains of Himachal Pradesh. The countryside outside Kuchinagar, the luxury of Malabar Hill and South Delhi and beaches of Goa seem to be almost on different planets. Mumbai or Delhi encompassed at least three centuries within the city limits and a million dollar condo overlooking a slum of a million people was a common occurrence. Despite all that, we are optimistic that India is on the right track. They are the most populous country on earth and they grow enough food to feed their population. Once the logistics of food distribution are nailed down and infrastructure is developed hunger will become a thing of the past.
Some like it "spicy"
The food in Goa was almost the same as the rest of the parts of India except in Goa coconut milk and sugar was added to most dishes. Goans like their food with lots of spice, so you could count that masala was added to everything. There was an abundance of seafood and fish which made Goa a place to eat. Dasha enjoyed some Portuguese sweets called "bebinca" it reminded her of a similiar filipino dessert by the same name.
Seafood, sand, and sun! What else could we ask for? We found paradise!