Notes From Goa
I’m sitting in a wicker chair at the Jewel Inn and Spa in Goa, India. Normally a destination for international tourists who come to party, rave on the beach, a destination where Russians like to come to get away from the cold weather of the Soviet… during its “on” or “high” season.
Driving into Calangute, supposedly one of the more populated beach towns in Goa, in our little black golf cart of a car, we even pass a family of holy rave cows. These holy Goan rave cows – I call them this because two of them had colorful beaded rave necklaces dangling around their necks – seemed to be headed where we were headed – Calangute! A party on the beach in Goa, India with great trance music and holy rave cows, here we come!
Francis, our driver, pulls into a small side street in Calangute and drops us off at Jewel Inn and Spa, a nice little Portuguese-styled Inn (much of Goa was once colonized by the Portuguese, and this is clearly visible in the aesthetics and architecture of many of the buildings here in town). The lady at reception, Sonja, shows us to a few of the available rooms – these rooms, at least compared to the room I stayed in my first night in Delhi, are absolutely luxurious and wait for it – as hygienic as it’s going to get in this country. The initial price she quotes us is 2,200 rupees. Jash attempts to negotiate and manages to lower the rate to $1,500 rupees under the condition that we pay for 3 nights upfront. Paulina and I suggest checking out one more hotel, just for comparison’s sake, so dear Francis takes us to another hotel, or perhaps another inn that is far less appealing than the first, with a solid, non-negotiable rate of 1,750 rupees. This is how I ended up sitting in a wicker chair at the Jewel Inn and Spa in Goa, India a few hours later. At approximately $12-$13 / per person, I can’t really complain. The bed is comfortable, the pillows are clean, and the shower has hot water. Plus, there’s a decent view from the balcony.
Jash, Paulina and I set out on our Goan adventure – thinking we’d find finally find a decent non-Indian restaurant for Paulina, and perhaps meet up with those holy rave cows we had encountered earlier. We ask a few aboriginals for directions to the touristy part of town, to the restaurants and bars along the beautiful tropical beach that we so eagerly booked our tickets to Goa for… Several sort of scoff and then proceed to tell us to go every which way possible. We completely discount the fact that many others have told us that it’s monsoon season in Goa, that it’s “off” season. “Off” season in Las Vegas is still relatively busy and the nightclubs are still crowded. Monsoon season in Thailand is still filled with tourists and the restaurants are still open. So we march on in Calangute expecting nothing less than the same, only to realize that “off” season here means exactly that. Nothing is open. The few restaurants that are open would certainly not be open in the States – no way would the FDA give them a pass. There are no tourists on the street besides us. One white woman rides past us on a scooter, but Paulina is certain based on the confidence and expertise she was riding her scooter, that she was a local.
I’m a bit jetlagged… woke up and can’t seem to go back to sleep.