The Goa Experience!
Hey Team! I’m back! Goa was amazing, and this should hopefully be a fun post because Goa was so crazy! I am going to start with a couple pictures…
The Portuguese colonized Goa, and left very late, so the influence is still very obvious, especially architecturally. There are many villas with Portuguese names, and churches EVERYWHERE! It’s beautiful, and reminded me a lot of Miami – being by the beach, with gorgeous Western architecture.
The bus ride to Goa was an overnight trip, about 13 hours. We left Hyderabad about 30 minutes behind schedule, and we made some friends here and on the bus who helped us figure out how to do everything. The guy I sat next to on the way there talked to me for a long time about politics in India before I fell asleep, and helped us negotiate cab fare once we got to Goa so that we’d pay more of the Indian price.
We took a cab straight to the beach because our hotel wasn’t open for check-in yet. We stood on the beach for a couple minutes, and then went to lunch. This is what we saw on the beach. The fact that I captured a picture without ANYONE in their tightey-whities is a miracle. In India, women swim in their sarees and other clothes, and men swim in their tiny underwear. Swimsuits are unheard of, even though they are for sale all along the beach. I’m guessing tourists buy them. Goa has like a zillion tourists, but we went in the off season, so it was a little quieter.
We went for lunch, to the hotel, and then back to the beach. The hike to the hotel, though, was a HIKE. We had all our stuff, and it turned out the cab driver had dropped us at the other end of the beach, so we walked a couple of kilometers with our bags, sweat dripping off of us, and we got lost in the back roads leading to our hotel. About 45 minutes later, we arrived at the hotel. Val, Jess, and Karen checked in while I hid out back – we hadn’t told them I’d be there. This is the road behind our hotel, with the girls walking:
Finally, they came to rescue me, and we went up to the room. It was BEAUTIFUL and clean and huge, and had 4 beds. We put our stuff down and headed out again. Before the beach though, we went to grab a late lunch. This place, Eclipse Bar and Grill, was our lunch spot of choice all 5 days we were there.
Onion rings, chicken sandwiches, and fruity drinks – DELICIOUS! The moped in the back belongs to some of our other friends in Goa who rented it while they were there to get around. I wouldn’t have dared to do it – driving in India is NOT something we mess with
The beach that we found, and subsequently returned to every day, was mostly empty, and we only had to deal with the occasional passing stare. We took some pictures that night of the beach (and us).
I may or may not be the one in the tie dye. This picture also brings me to my next point. Men in Goa are the most aggressive that I have encountered. Constant catcalling on the street, and countless covert and not so covert photos taken of us. I’ve already made it clear in previous posts that I am tired of feeling like an animal in a zoo, and tired of feeling like a stranger here (especially in Hyderabad – although a girl in class from India yesterday said that everyone in India feels like a stranger because there is so much diversity everywhere. I thought that was interesting).
Anyway, a staring Indian man (or pack of them) was a constant fixture this weekend. Sometimes people asked to take our pictures – sometimes they didn’t. When they did ask, I said no. When they didn’t ask, and I noticed them do it, all hell broke loose. One man kept returning to take pictures on his phone after I had asked him to go away, and finally, I stood up and yelled at him on the beach in front of everyone. All the people around, Indian and tourist, came up to say they thought that I should keep doing that, and they told Jess, Val, and Karen that they were lucky to have such a fierce bodyguard But seriously – what is so different about us? We wore swimsuits, but usually had either shorts or a t-shirt on as well. We stayed pretty conservatively dressed, so it was frustrating that there isn’t anything we can do to blend in a little more.
That night, as we were walking to dinner, a couple of guys walked up to us and introduced themselves, asking where we were from. We started talking to them, and finally we made a group decision to go to the nearby restaurant so we could eat and the guys would join us for a drink. We sat there for about two hours just talking and eating our seafood pasta. They were really cool and we talked about everything from the Beatles to politics. They asked where they could watch the rugby world cup, and we told them about our favorite lunch spot that had it on. Matt, Ben, and Joe (good English names) were great company, and we exchanged numbers to maybe meet up again.
The next day, Jess and I woke up and decided it would be a good idea to go parasailing. 800 Rupees and an argument later (after some vendors that Jess had befriended helped us find the best deal), we had a slip of paper in our hands, and were told to come back in one hour. We waited, and then walked back, turning down picture requests right and left. After elbowing our way into the line in true Indian form, we were ushered onto a boat and given a life jacket. We were on this first boat, just sitting in the Indian Ocean, unsure of the next step. After about 20 minutes, another boat came, and we switched places with the passengers on that boat. We sat for another half hour while the crew ate their lunch, and then we started getting ready to parasail! The woman next to me had been in Mauritius before and said it was a lot of fun, so Jess and I harnessed up. Here’s the result:
So this, friends, is parasailing! It was awesome. I am so happy I got to do it. Flying over the water in the Indian Ocean attached to a parachute is a pretty once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I took full advantage of my short air time. Looking out over the shore was really cool, and once I stopped screaming, I really got to look around. Basically, they put you in a harness, attach you to some ropes, and then a mechanical thing starts and slowly lets you out over the water. There were probably a dozen boats out, and it was definitely the best $16 I spent in Goa.
After the beach, we met up with the Englishmen again for a really late dinner (around 9:30pm) and then we ended up going to a sports bar and chatting until 4 in the morning. One of the reasons I love India, and particularly Goa, is that it is full of people from all over the world. Everyone has a different story, and these three guys all went to college together, had just graduated, and were touring India together for 6 weeks. Matt had been sick most of the trip so far, Pete met a German girl he liked the week before Goa (who Matt called the Happy Dinosaur because of her size), and Joe was subtly hilarious. It is so much fun to be able to meet new people everywhere we go, and these three have definitely made the list of favorites so far. Pete and Joe are going into the military in Britain, and Matt is going on to find a job as an engineer. We also met a Swedish girl who couldn’t stay because she was going to meet some Australians she had just met. In the market earlier that day, as Jess was making another impulse purchase, I heard someone behind me say “que piensas?” (“what do you think” in Spanish). I turned around and had a nice conversation in Spanish with two girls from Mexico City. In India. I love meeting people from all over, and I think that’s why I like languages so much. The more you know, the more you can talk to people. And how cool is it to come home with new friends not just in India, but all over the world?
Val and Karen left the next day, to the dismay of the many beach vendors we had met and bought things from. Ankle bracelets, toe rings, manicures with diamond studs (only in India do you get a great manicure, except they forget to cut your nails first), necklaces, earrings… Everything under the sun. Jess makes friends with vendors, but also gets the best prices, so she is really fun just to watch in action. On the last day, the boys who Jess had bought earrings and necklaces from and who had hooked us up with a discount on the parasailing, gave Jess a whole box of earrings because they liked her so much. What a party, yeah?
Our last morning, all we wanted to do was sit on the beach. So that’s what we did. Goa was BEAUTIFUL, and I highly recommend parasailing :)