Sunday, January 23, 2011

Last Impressions of Goa, January 23, 2011

Well, here we are getting ready to shower and pack to leave paradise. As we made our morning walk I started cataloging good and bad things about Goa. First on the list of good is the beach life. It has been wonderful to sit on beach beds and be catered to by people who are there to make sure you get plenty of shade or sun by adjusting your umbrella, massages and even food and drinks. Many of the tourists here are wintering at Goa. They come for several months to escape the cold of the UK. While I have loved my beach time, I cannot picture myself devoted to only swimming, sunbathing, dining out and shopping. Great for a few days, but I would need to find meaningful work here. I also do not know how the long term tourists stay away from their families for months at a time with no greater purpose than to stay out in the sun.

Food here will make the top of anyone’s list. One restaurant not very far from our room makes any dish you ask, even if it is not on the menu. Devika and I have not had anything we can complain about and much that we can brag about. Almost all dining is outside on patios or covered concrete slabs. Music varies from place to place, but the quality of the food is pretty consistent. Indian ice cream is divine and I am bringing home the recipe!

On the list of annoyances is the constant calling to me by the term mama. I know they are trying to be respectful, but after awhile, I just want to scream I am not your mama. Also on the annoying list is how old women and young children are utilized to beg from tourists. Primary school here is free and I have a tough time putting myself in the place of parents who choose instead to have their small children working on the streets begging or selling things. It is hard not judge but I am working on it.

On the top of the list is also the shopping. Everyone thing Indian can be bought here and many things from outside of India as well. The quality ranges from one time wear dresses to fine clothes and jewelry. Handicrafts can be handmade by artisans or assembly line stuff from China. Whatever your price range, there is something here for you. One of the funny things is the use of brand names like Jimmy Choo or Polo on things you know cannot possibly be real. A shopper here has to remember that Indians are the kings of knock offs.

Our accommodations are terrific. I highly recommend Rosa’s place. It is clean, well maintained and lacks only for an air conditioner in the very hot season. Fortunately, we are in the cool season and sleeping at night has been nice. We have checked out another place here and they have nice rooms as well, a swimming pool, AC and TVs. It is 1,000 more rupees a night, which is about 22 USD.

That brings me to the other nice thing about Goa. It is totally affordable. Compared to the Caribbean islands, you get more for your money here. Food is fairly inexpensive. We averaged less than 10 USD for meals and that often included a drink before dinner or dessert afterward.

Goa is one of the cleanest areas of India we have been in and yet it still needs lot of improvement. Tourists will throw trash in receptacles if given the opportunity and certainly Goans can take more pride in their general community. People do keep their own personal spaces clean, but throw their trash in the streets or empty lots. The other threat to Goa is the noise level that has invaded the small streets of these beach towns. Between scooters, motorcycles, taxis and tourist buses, the streets are clogged with noise and vehicles for most of the day. Sidewalks are sporadic and add to the pandemonium of navigating around the area.

The ocean is warm and beautiful with waves that will knock you on your butt from time to time. The undertow varies but is manageable. The pace of Goa kind of matches the movement of the water. There is an occasional rush (like the night market) but mostly it is slow and easy and very relaxing. It is a tourist spot that if you go see the spice farm or churches, okay and if not, that is okay, too.

All in all, it is a wonderful day to spend a few days. Mumbai, you are now beckoning us to return to your frantic activity and life of a very large metro area.

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