Indic portugese and decaying European vacationers
31.12.2009 - 05.12.2011 85 °F
So... Goa. Its been a picture perfect postcard. The kind of shaddy palms, clean coast lines, and smooth waves lappign against a shoreline dotted with pina coladas and book laden sun-seekesr. Goa, a former Portugese colony turned luxury tourist mecca - is that sort of vacation spot agreeable to almost anyone.
When people claim India is diverse there is no easier comparison than the states of Rajasthan and Goa. Rajasthan is poor, relatively unclean, with gorgeous ancient castles and medicval cities.... A distinct mood of the "old world Orient" with caravans and maharajas. And Goa? Goa is southeast asia-meets western India. Its relax. Its European colonial charm mindling with a modern vacationers requirement for places that just move slow - escaping the hustle and bustle of "real time" and, worse, "real life". Its deliciously cheap fish cooked on a beach and equally unexpensive bars and booze. Goan is Catholic-Hindu, European-Indian, Coastal life & relaxed charm. And in many ways you couldn't choose a better place to end a sometimes rough Indic backpacking venture.
We started in teh sleepy beach towns of Patnem and Palolem. Really nothing but a bunch of beach shacks, yoga classes, and westerners loungin gin beach towels. That and it was absolutely stunning. I spent almost 5 days there recovering from a terrible unknown travelers malady with lime soda as my only form of nutrition. Eventually an ayurvedic traditional medicine shop proved the cure and in less than 5 hours I was back up to speed. Where western medicine fails, traditional Indian ayurvedic medicine seems to be victorious.
From there we headed to Panaji - a magically colorful place echoing Iberia in its bright stucco architecture, catholic vibe, and relatively clean streets. It was the feast of St. Xavier where the whole community - Catholic and Hindu alike - turn out for the festivities. We headed to giant pavillians where mass was undertaken and witnessed thousands standing in hour long lines to pay respects to the miraculously non-decaying body of Goa's patron saint. The fair itself was dusty, dirty, and rather boring but... absolutely facinating in an anthropological sense. Indian fairs - at least in Goa - are more an excuse to shop and picnic. It reminded me of Fourth of July with fewer fireworks and more curry vindaloos....
It was in Goa where I met up with my brother. Instantly upon first meeting, I could feel the pull of the states. In a few weeks, I would head to a family reunion in Oz... Christmas in Texas... and finally a New Years in Washington. Bittersweet was the feeling and I quickly buried it in the sight and sounds of Goa. Why worry of the future when in a place so spectacular?