thank chuff for William Boyd…

Lie in. Sat outside back door by the view of the countryside and finished William Boyd novel, Armadillo. Went for a stroll late afternoon in the Baga direction – along Tito’s Lane to the beach, collected shells, then strolled southwards to Calungute.
Ate at Cavala again as not much else open. Different waiting staff were on tonight. The pleasant young waiter asked me the usual stuff: what’s my name, where am I from, am I married, do I have a boyfriend, what’s my job (‘how much do you earn’) what colour are your underpants, how crusty are your nostrils…. I gave him the low-down then sat bemused as he relayed it all back to the 2x other waiters and all openly discussed me, barely 4 feet in front of me.

Monday 30 August – Cavala Resort

I wonder if there’s anywhere in India where dogs don’t howl and bark incessantly all night. I decided to just get up at Dawn’s crack and was introduced to the day by the sound of yet another person wretching and throwing up. Decided not to go on the North Goa tour today but to escape Panjim for the northerly beach resort of Calungute/Baga. I’d already paid 100 Rs for the tour, but the difference in cost of accommodation would more than cover that: Panjim Inn @ circa 800 Rs per night, whereas Cavala seaside resort @ 300 Rs per night. In my haste I left behind 2 x bottles of ‘superior’ dark rum (I’ll never know now but suspect it wasn’t) and took a taxi the 30 minute journey up the coast. The driver was particularly helpful – I didn’t have a clue where I was going – so gave him a fat tip and said Dev borem korum and he seemed happy enough.

The Cavala Resort is fairly luxurious and excellent value. My room is huge and has a great view over the countryside. I fell asleep early afternoon and spent the most part of the day either snoozing or reading indoors (I was a bit burnt from yesterdays tour).
Went out for a walk late afternoon once the sun started to cool off, down to Calungute itself… The resort is just starting to be prepared ready for the tourist season which really starts in October so not much open yet. Returned to Cavala to eat – really friendly staff. Fish croquettes with a Goan sauce, Goan roast chicken in a spicy gravy sauce, coconut pancakes dessert.

no holiday, no injury…

I got up to go to the loo around 4am. In my semi-conscious state I barged into the toilet roll holder jutting out of the wall, and goudged my thigh open on the metal cover sheet. Think it might’ve warranted stitches but I had a first aid kit with me. I was reminded of the injuries with which I invariably returned home from camp or holiday as a teenager much to mum’s constant worry – they included a cricked neck (more than once) puncturing my thigh on a barb-wire fence, being attacked by a mad dog whilst holding some kittens, being bitten by a mad spaniel in France and undergoing a series of rabies injections, ripping my arm open having fallen off a moped in Ibiza… I thought I’d grown out of that phase…

Still, could’ve been worse: could’ve burnt my bottom on an electric fire and spent christmas day swathed in a nappy….. (Janice?)

– thankyou / god go with you
Kay û sa û ha

“South Goa tour with an Elvis-impersonator tour guide. I was the only non-Indian in the group – the others were visiting from out of state, eg Mumbai, and were a very polite, friendly, middle class bunch.

Strolled up 31 January Road through the quaint Portuguese district to the Panjim Residency, the government tourism centre from where the tours depart. There’s a selection of tourist shops on the ground floor of the centre with hotel rooms upstairs which were advertised at a considerably lower rate than the Panjim Inn – closer to 500 Rs per room per night, instead of 800. However, the Panjim Inn does have a certain charm with it’s galleries of paintings and fibre-glass sculptures of brass appearance, along with traditional colonial furniture in the rooms.

Old Goa’s Se Cathedral was our first stop – the largest church in south asia. Viewed from the front, the right hand tower is missing as it was struck by lightening. A church service was underway so I was only able to take photos of the interior from the entrance.

Snapping a stray puppy on route, we walked over to the Basilica of Bom Jesus – a World Heritage Monument – where St Francis Xavier’s body now rests. He died in the 16th century and although he wasn’t embalmed, his body can still be seen today which the Goans believe is a gift from God. The body is only displayed to the public every 10 years: 1974, 1984, 1994 and 2004 (from November until January 05 unfortunately) – the mausoleum was impressive though. Photographs displayed of the body show that an arm and an opposite little finger are now missing.

The next stop was Shri Manguesh hindu temple – took photos from outside. A hindu monk gave me a concise history of the temple (the Portuguese had tried to destroy the hindu temples in their efforts to convert the Goans to Catholicism but apparently the English came to their defence, believing in religion of choice… aren’t the English great? BTW, have you got any money…) He showed me some chariots in an outstable which are brought out annually at some festival – pageants would traditionally have been a method of educating and informing the illiterate.

Shri Gopal Ganpati was the next hindu temple. I think I accidentally left the camera on an incorrect aperture setting here, thinking it was on P mode…

After this, the roads became even bumpier and steeper – we seemed to be going up and down some hairpin bends around the countryside. One young boy spent most of this leg of the journey wretching out of the window – seems that’s not an uncommon occurrence here.

Ancestral Goa at Big Foot Loutolim Goa was a favourite of mine – a Yorvik Viking centre set outdoors where we saw representations of traditional life and craftsmanship, as well as a wishing area dedicated to the Big Foot legend.

Next port of call was Colva (pronounce Kahlua) where I was royally hassled on the beach: boys who wanted to be photographed with me (initially amusing) girls who just wanted to talk no hassle (oh, and then sell their wares) a bloke undertaking a research project in to the differences between sex and marriage in India and Britain… The sanest person with whom I engaged in conversation was a boy whose friends had dared him to come and sit with me for 15 minutes! He won his bet and I took the opportunity to learn some Konkani – the official Goan language.

Dev borem korum

Go on, y’will y’will…

I had a great taxi ride to Delhi International Airport on Saturday morning. It was a beautiful sunny day and roadside life was interesting to watch. Sights included a man sitting in a chair by the road having what looked like a haircut/shave and a head massage and a herd of cows sheltering in the shade of some roadside trees. Whilst stopped at some traffic lights a beggar lady with a baby knocked persistently on the car window. A firm ‘no’ didn’t get rid of her so I tried gazing in the other direction …only to watch a man opening his car door to throw up on the road. Three times.

Flew with Sahara Airlines who have a wacky auction/bingo entertainment thing happening on board: you bid on a slip of paper for item(s) from a brochure (eg. an electrical mini tandoor oven) the highest bidder wins and some charity benefits from the money raised! Very bizarre.

Arrived in Goa Dabolim airport – very small – at 3pm. Whilst waiting for the luggage to be unloaded I booked 3 x trips at the Goa Tourism counter: a sunset cruise on the River Mandovi for that evening, a south Goa tour for the following day and a north Goa tour for Monday. Trips booked and luggage collected, I took a taxi to Panjim for 380 Rs (around £5). Taxis from Dabolim airport are pre-paid, with fixed rates set by the government’s Department of Tourism (GTDC) so no hassles bartering – all very straight forward, relaxing and most welcome. The half hour taxi ride was part coastal and part countryside – all very scenic and rustic and the air was noticeably cleaner for which my lungs were greatly relieved (until arrival at Panjim).

I just had time to get settled into a room at the Panjim Inn, reputed to be one of Panjim’s upmarket accommodations situated in the Fountainhas Portuguese district, before going out again for the sunset cruise.

Santa Monica sunset cruise on the Mandovi River with live Goan music and dance entertainment. Traditional dances included denki, fijddi, Portuguese and corredmino plus alternate sessions for the punters to dance – schooldiscotastic.