Divine Trips: Goa

Incredible India is a place that I never thought that I would be visiting.  Honestly, I didn’t feel like it drew me because of how the media portrays it.  Call me ignorant but I seriously thought that when I arrived I would smell curry everywhere.

The start of my trip was already doomed.  I arrived in Newark Airport and suddenly I read on the big screen that my flight to Mumbai was cancelled.  Everyone angrily shouted at the staff at Air India.  The reason was “mechanical failure” but there was no more detailed information.  After two hours of struggling to get a hotel room for myself and my bags back, I arrived in the Skywalk hotel in New Jersey.  The hotel was an old motel that was converted into the new Wynnham hotel.  I must say I was not very happy that I was staying here as the restaurant wasn’t serving, my toilet wasn’t installed straight and it had very old décor.  Nonetheless I made it through the night.  In the morning I rushed back to the airport where I was promptly rushed onto a bus to be shuttled to JFK.  I made a note that I will never fly Air India and never through Newark again.  At JFK the staff was very diligent in getting us on flights to Delhi and then linking to Goa. I also managed to get myself into business class.  Let me tell you something, I will never fly in economy class for any flight over 10 hours.

3When I finally arrived the Goa airport welcomed me with many soldiers giving me stares and whispers to each other in Hindi.  Waiting for my friend’s cousin to come pick me up, I tried to get onto the internet.  As like all the airports in India, I had to use my Canadian phone to roam to get a code to link to the internet.  An important thing to remember going out of the airport, never let anyone get a hold of your bags even though they say they are bringing it to the taxi.  Other than the first reaction of them trying to steal it, they will ask for money and lead you to a taxi that will likely overcharge you.  Remember to always discuss how much you will pay for the taxi ride before you get into the taxi.

I got back to San Joao Villa where my friend and her family greeted me.  We had a quick dinner at 12 am and then headed to bed.  My friend had broken the shower head so we had to use a bucket and scoop to shower.  I wasn’t afraid of this at first because it was what I had to do when I was younger when I visited Hong Kong.  What turned me off at this is that I never felt completely clean.  I brushed my teeth with the water from the tap and I was fine.  Going to sleep was hard in the first night because I woke up at 3 am thinking that someone was trying to break into the house.  Yes, I’m very paranoid.

The next day I spent the day with the girls.  We woke up and went straight to Gloria villas (party villas).  I met up with my university friends and had our curry left over dinner breakfast.  The rest of the day was going to Margao to eat Domino’s pizza and getting a manicure and pedicure.  I highly recommend Domino’s in India.  Although it is slightly spicy (like all the food in India) but it’s very good.  In the evening I went to my first Roce.  A Southern Indian tradition. The bride’s maids are involved in carrying water jugs to the river and the adults of the family do prayers near the river to bless the water.  In this case we had a pond.  Water is then filled into the water jugs and the women are to carry the jugs (on their heads) back to the main area.  The bride is then to use the water to shower as a superstious way of blessing the marriage.  Afterwards, the bridesmaids and the groomsmen allow the guests put coconut water on each of their heads (along with eggs, chocolate syrup, and whatever they can find).  This is another way for the guests to bless the wedding party.  We showered up back at the villa and went back for the last few minutes of dancing and eating.  Just a FYI, last call is at 11:30 pm in India.

The next day was the wedding day.  We spent the day taking pictures in the hot Goan sun.  We went to Trinity Church to walk down the aisle and went to a place nearby for the reception. When walking in, you are walking through a purple arch way with a large circle table for the guests to write a note to put on a tree for the couple.  Going further in, you are greeted with a very large cement dance floor with some ribbon and a sign say Laddu and Choi.  Surrounding the dance floor is an extensive amount of dinner tables (60 to precise).  The dinner was a buffet with amazing variety of curries and Indian specialties.  As many Indian weddings do, there were a few dance performances for the couple.  And at the end of the night, my friend and I had a chance to roast the bride.  Many mean things were said but all in good fun.  In the end, that’s what the couple wanted.

When the last call was done, the youngins proceeded to a bar for the after party.  This is where I took off my shoes and let loose.  The night ended with the couple arriving for a few dances and then everyone headed home to sleep.  This night was the best night of sleep I had had during the trip.

Being as I was in the other villa, the party villa totally forgot to pick me up to go to the North Goa tour.  So instead I headed to the beach with my friend’s family.  I’m glad this had happened because I was finally able to walk on the hot sand and swish my feet in the water.  By no means is the water clear or blue, the sand not white but the beach is so beautiful.  It is the biggest beach I have ever seen.  It seemed to stretch for many kilometers.  We had a slow meal on the beach restaurant.  The food wasn’t great, but the atmosphere was amazing.  I would not suggest going to the Tiger at Benaulim beach.

In the evening there was a large amount of people leaving the next day so there was a final dinner at the bride’s grandparents’ house.  There was another buffet dinner and we all sat in the backyard and took in the night sky.  Because this was the first time the bride was going “home”, there was a small rosary and singing ritual that had happened.  We all were handed papers that suggested we would sing with them.  There was no way I would debut my singing there at all.

All in all, I was glad that the weather was somewhat mild but hot enough to make you sweat.  The sun was blazing so I remembered to put on a lot of sunscreen.  I also put on a lot of mosquito repellent but there was not that many bugs at this time of year because it was “winter”.  The food was good but it became sickening after three days.

On the last day of my trip, I came back around to Goa as Air India was1 going to charge me
half the cost of my ticket to change my itinerary.  I flew from Delhi to Goa and a driver took me around Old Goa.  Note: as a woman I would not have travelled on my own in India, but my friend had set up a trustful driver for me.  Generally Goa is quite safe, but do not test this by being driven alone or going out by yourself after dark.

Goa is full of beach and churches.  The first place he took me to was a ST. Francis church.  In Goa is where St. Francis is buried.  Every 10 years, the state displays St. Francis in the open for people to come say their praise. I was very lucky that this was the right time.  I went into the church but found a lot of renovations and even a cloth covering the tomb of the great saint.  I quickly took a few pictures of the architecture and headed back to the car.

From then I saw a beautiful sunset on a quick walk in the sand at the beach.  I went through a very beautiful playground for schoolchildren going to the beach.   I personally do not trust the water in Goa.  It is mixed with sewage and the ocean.

Finally I also went to Don Paolo.  A lighthouse area.  It was an amazing last stop of my trip because the water calmed me and

Goa is a tourist destination and I would suggest to anyone to go there. The beaches are beautiful, the history is plenty, and it is probably one of the safest places in India.

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