Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Goa

The off season in Goa gets two thumbs up from this backpacker. The monsoon has not hit Goa yet so it's muggy (I grew up around DC, so that's par for the course) and it rains a little bit every day but not enough to even cause us to stray from a walk on the beach. It has been consistently in the lower 90s which was a relief after roasting in Delhi.
There is a lot of hedging of relgious bets in this area of the country with Jesus and Mary iconography posted next to various Hindu gods many places, but particularly the busses. I am woefully ignorant of the Hindu worship system and god set which makes the variety of temples a bit confusing but fascinating nonetheless. The capital of Goa- Panaji- is pretty laid back but every one seems to be rushing around to get somewhere. Where exactly I have not discerned. The influence of Portugal still hangs around Goa like the humidity. Vaguely oppressive although you can't quite put a finger on it. The archives in the capital are crumbling but the Indian government will not give enough money to restore and preserve them. However, nor will the government (for the obvious political reasons) accept any funds from Portugese foundations.
Most of the western tourists currently in Panaji all ate at the same restaurant last night. It's recommended in Lonely Planet. Amusingly these two British kids (they're 18 which made me feel old) who were also at the same bar as us two nights ago at Baga- a beach area northwest of the capital- were eating at the restaurant. They are traveling on the pound which gives them a bit more luxury than the dollar and euro travelers but everything is so cheap here it's hard to blow even our conservative budget.
One of the local pastimes of the wealthier set (judging from the top end Nokias they own) is collecting currency and stamps. Everywhere we have been in Goa there has been some kid or teen approach us and ask us where we're from and if they can have "some of your currency" all in one breath. My bf is from a smaller nation that is much more exciting than my Americaness so he has attracted much more interest and requests. We had one guy give us a full address, phone numbers and invite us to his house yesterday.
With the caste riots in Rajastan still happening we have delayed Agra and the Taj until the end of the trip in hopes that things will settle down in the next 6 weeks. Most of the coverage on Rajastan is on the Hindi language channels and local newspapers. BBC world has been a great link to the western world to follow things like the G8 summit. Instead of Jaipur we are headed a bit more to the east from Mumbai towards the Ajanta caves. From there we'll see how much heat we are willing to take before hightailing it up to Nepal.
I am taking a break from Indian food for a few days so that I will be able to one day consume chicken tikka masala again. Right now it is giving me nightmares. Or maybe that's just the malaria pills talking.

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