To pick up from the last blog we went off to visit the aged care facility in a small village just outside of Margoa. It is home to 9 people all of whom have no family either prepared to or able to care for them. While it was very basic we were amazed at the beautiful location of the house. The people who worked there are all volunteers apart from Lakshmi who cooks and cleans, we were welcomed in true Indian hospitality style, taken to meet the people and have a look around. I always find it amazing that in a place like this we are just welcome, we have never met any of the people before, yet they are so grateful that we have made an effort to visit. The people who lived there were beautiful people, the oldest being in his late 80’s. What an amazing end to a great day, it certainly gave us food for thought as we talked over dinner, thinking about western influence, the caste system and life in India.
As for yesterday (Tuesday) it was a long day, after a day beginning with Janet and Andy, texting us to say we will be there in 10 minutes and then 15 minutes and then walking straight past Benaulim and having to back track we headed off on our adventure!
First stop was Old Goa for a wander around St Francis of Assisi Church, The Archaeological Museum, Bom Jesus and the Ruins of St Augustine. All very interesting but by far the ruins of St Augustine were amazing, alters still intact, engraving in the floor still visible, wall paitings and tiles still in good order, it made a great place for pictures and a nosey! Old Goa is quite a small and intimate place, well what we saw of it was anyway, it was strange to see so many churches in such a small area, and not just small chapels but quite huge churches.
After a quick drink it was off to Panjim just a bit further up the road. The main street in Panjim is lined with shops and street hawkers. We had lunch before Alan and Andy headed off in one direction and Janet and I in another. We had a look around the bizzares, Janet and I had to fend off a guy who insisted on following us before ringing through to someone else to inform whoever of our location – but it was all good, the girls came through! Janet bought her Pashmina’s after some fierce haggling and we wandered some more. As we wandered we passed a shop with a guy who shouted, let me sell you some sunglasses, I pointed to my eyes and said I have them, next was the bag and the purse, but after realizing we weren’t really shopping a voice yelled “let me sell you some cheap trash,” I reckon it was one of the funniest things I have heard, we both had to stop and do a double take, yes we had heard right, the street hawker laughing with us.
I think one of the hardest things in India sometimes is the constant determination of the street hawkers, walking with you, working their magic to convince you that they are giving you “good price!” But it is all part of the fun and experience of India – the flip side of course is that for the hawkers it is about necessity, without sales no pay – fun and experience for the tourist versus the harsh reality of the locals.
At sunset we went on a cruise down the Mandovi River, what started as a somewhat corney looking trip ended up being great fun, with Janet and I taking to the stage and practicing a bit of Indian dancing. The only white women on the stage created somewhat of a frenzy with people cheering, clapping and taking photo’s – for that evening I reckon we could’ve been the most photographed women in India.
Of course our day would not have been complete without having a good chat with our driver, not a local of Goa, but rather a young man who travels to Goa from a village some 8 hours from Mumbai for the tourist season to drive. He explained his family are farmers and as his parents are aging and he is not yet married it is his role to care for them and so that is what he does. During the holiday season he earns 5000 rupee’s a month that’s about $120 a month, some 2000 more than he is able to earn on the farm to care for his parents. he explained that he is a Brahmin, which is the highest caste yet he also explained that if you are poor even that counts for little! Again a good discussion ensued over dinner. During our trip we were taken to a shop to “look” we didn’t have to buy! Now in Chennai and in Bangkok I learned quickly to make sure I pointed out that I wanted to go “direct” but didn’t really expect to have to say it on this occassion. it’s always a bit frustrating when you have to wander around a shop with goods at inflated prices so that drivers can get discount or goods, Andy was drained (everyone who knows Andy will get the drained thing!!!) I was not too happy and a bit fed up, because it was Janet and myself that had to get out and have a “look” while Alan and Andy remained in the care. None of us were impressed basically! My holiday read is Shantaram (great book, would definitely recommend it!) and at the end of the day we looked back on the madness of the street hawkers, the being taken to a shop and becoming frustrated and then the fact that we had had an amazing day and as we did a quote from my holiday read came back to me “Sometimes in India you have to surrender before you win.” How true it is, because once you surrender and just go with it, it’s amazing how the day can unfold!
Today was Anjuna Markets where a few purchases where made, although Alan cost me 50 rupees, haggling against me with the stall holder, but all good fun! Tomorrow we head off to sleep under the stars at Cola Beach so will be back at the weekend. Nameste!