Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Goa...The Beach

Goa is small section of India that is full or palm tree lined beaches and is known as the "party" place. The character of this place is full of Portuguese influences and is still very Roman Catholic to this day. St. Francis Xavier arrived here in 1542 and is entombed in one of the oldest churches, Basilica of Bom Jesus.

Goa itself is separated in to three distinctive districts, north, south and central. In the north there is Panjim which is the newly formed Capital, 1843 it is located at the mouth of the Mandovi River and has the largest influence of Portuguese. In the south it is more layed back with more family oriented beaches and dinning establishments. Central Goa is made up of lush vegetation and is the home to wildlife sanctuary's and the beautiful Dudhsanger Falls...enough of the history.

The Loudamericans arrived on Friday evening and without to much fanfare made it to our Villa on the Ocean in North Goa. The place was very similar to our Villa in Palm Meadows however the amenities were a lot nicer and newer..we had a dishwasher, and not one we had to feed! It was awesome to put all our sippy cups and plates in there and turn on the machine go to bed and they were clean...miracle.
There were 3 bedrooms, bathrooms, 2 TV's and a DVD. The perfect family get a way. The pool was shaped like a guitar and we had our our guard and dog named Jack. The kids were in heaven.

The only downside to this place was that we had to drive to get to the beach. The sacrifices we put up with:) Actually, this turned out to be a blessing as we saw MUCH more of Goa than we would have if we had been at a 5 star hotel with private beach.

We spent time at 3 different beaches and Goa beaches are a cross between Jamaica, Costa Rica and Mexico. You have the beach vendors from Mexico, the lush rain forest of Costa Rica and the unfortunate poverty and litter of Jamaica. The kids were minor celebrities. The minute they hit the beach, they were swarmed with people watching them, pointing, huddling around, taking pictures and basically being bothersome paparazzi. I can totally understand why celebrities attack photographers. We were asked no less than 15 times if people could take photos of our kids. AND that was the minority of people that were polite about it. Seeing a Caucasian couple on the beach with 3 Korean kids must be a better attraction than the zoo or the beach itself. I have no idea what these people are going to do with these pictures when they get home... Show their friends, "look at what I saw at the beach!" Rather irritating.

The highlight of the weekend was the awesome food, cheap wine and BUDWEISER!! The food is an awesome mix of Portuguese and seafood, the wine imported from Portugal and the bartender had Tom lined up with his 2nd Bud before he had even finished his 1st. NICE!

We spent the better part of three days at the beach and on our final day we took tour a of the Goa area.

We ventured around Old Goa and saw the splendid churches and even spent time in The Basilica of Bom Jesus. This Church was built over a 10 year period between 1594 -1605 and the focus of the Church is the three -tiered marble tomb of st. Francis Xavier and you can still see parts of his body in the windows of the tomb. A perfect kid outing. They couldnt stop talking about death "why did he die" "how old was he" "how old is he now" etc...

Our next stop was Fort Aguada which sits on the mouth of the Mandovi River and was built by the Portuguese in 1612. There is a jail that to this day still holds many inmates even quite a few westerners who succumbed to the use of illegal substances such as cocaine and charas, hashish, and did not heed the warnings that carry even a small amount was/is fraught with danger. Needless to say the jail is not much of a tourist attraction so it was back into the car and off to Panjim.

Panjim is a city somewhat like Bangalore in that there is nothing but traffic. These small roads sometimes big enough for one car were actually quite interesting as we drove through the markets and saw quite an eclectic collection of vendors, buyers and tourists. we played at a park and even purchased a bottle of the local brew called Feni. Feni is some kind of cashew/apple concoction that they say is very potent and must be mixed with soda or limeca...we will see?

Finally we were back at the airport and off back home. We were all tired after four days of sun surf and sand. Saravanna had to try the Feni and was grateful we thought of him enough to bring him a gift. He promptly gave it to someone else stating.."to toxic Tom to toxic".

We new we were back in Bangalore for on our way home this motorcyclist next to us was honking furiously at the truck next to us. The problem was the truck was stopped and had it'd flashers going obliviously to us indicating a problem. The motorcyclist however must have been under a different belief because he was still honking at the truck when he ran directly into it.

Home sweet home.