We arrived in the Miami Beach of India yesterday afternoon. It is a series of beaches in the state of Goa that have small tourist areas attached, much like the drive from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale, only much more rustic. We are staying in a lovely rooming house very near the beach. It is quiet and peaceful here. Our view is of a lovely garden with a huge jackfruit tree. It is much different than the bustle of Delhi and Mumbai. And, it has relatively clean streets. It reminds me very much of the south coast towns and the north beach town of Malindi in Kenya.
Goa has two big rivers complete with barges, casinos and boating; much like my own area on the Mississippi. It is famous for growing cashews, mining iron and magnesium, salt fields and some spices. The tourist trade is huge here with a lot of diversity in the travelers.
This morning we toured old Goa. It was the center of the Portuguese reign in this part of India. Interestingly, Goa did not join India until the Portuguese gave up control in 1961. India became independent from the UK in 1947. The area is predominately Catholic (and Hindu, of course) and boasts many cathedrals that were built with much vigor and flourish to entice the locals to become Christians. It was amazing to see the golden altars and ornate work in the ones we visited today.
My Catholic upbringing springs to life at times like these. I had an overwhelming urge to genuflect and be more somber than the hoard of Indian and international tourists would allow. One of the strangest things to see was a life size statue of the crucified Christ replete with smeared blood and the Indian tourists posing for pictures in front of it, next to it and basically all over it. I stood back mesmerized by the activity and all the time a song of the church playing in my head. I am not sure I know the name of it, but the chorus is “If ever I loved thee, my Jesus it is now.” It was impossible to see such a life-like statue, even with the photo fever around it, and not to be humbled by His death for me.
One of the churches had a small art gallery of that pictured the life of St. Francis Xavier in huge paintings and one archway that was painted with the most beautiful representation of the trinity I have seen. St. Francis Xavier was kind of foreshadowing of Mother Theresa. He ministered to the poor and the lepers of Goa. Of all the original structures built by the Portuguese from the time Vasco De Gama landed here in 1492, only the churches and one other large house are still standing.
Our agenda for the next few days is to spend some good beach time, relax and eat well. I must also comb the beaches in the early morning before the tourists descend to grab up some shells from the Indian Ocean for granddaughter, Guthrie, and a family friend, Nana Loree. I suppose sooner or later I will also be enticed into buying T-shirts. We will see. I hope to arrive back in Mumbai for my trip home, rested and tan.