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July 25, 2011

Well this weekend Amanda and I visited Goa.  We left Thursday night on an all-nighter bus and returned this morning again on the bus around 7 o’clock.  It was quite a weekend and I guess I’ll just highlight some of the things we got to see.  But first a brief description of Goa:

Goa is the smallest state in India, but is also the wealthiest in per capita GDP.  This is because it has a huge tourism industry, meaning it takes in a lot of money and there aren’t that many locals counted in the census.  The main road where we had our hotel also had about 15 other hotels in the span of 2 miles.  Unfortunately, or fortunately in some aspects we were not there in the peak season, meaning a lot less people, but also many stores were closed and the beaches were muddy from the rain, etc.  There was still plenty to see though as Goa has a very rich history as it was first a Portuguese colony before the Goans reclaimed their independence.  The effects of that are still seen in many of their food items and other historical sites.

Where we went:

Churches:  SE cathedral, Basilica of Bom Jesus–which houses the remains of St. Francis Xavier(who cofounded the Jesuits), and Church of St. Francis of Assisi.  All these churches are extremely beautiful on the outside and inside.  They have huge altars, sometimes more than 1 and ribbed vaulting.  The real amazing thing about these churches/cathedrals though is how close they are to each other.  They are all within about 250 feet from each other and all were built within about 100 years of each other so it’s not like they were expanding or one had burned down or anything.  Anyways, I haven’t really looked into why they were built so close together, I’m sure there’s a good explanation.  I was just happy I didn’t have to walk very far.

Temples:  I’m sorry, but I couldn’t pronounce the names of the Temples, therefore I cannot now remember how to spell them.  Regardless, we went to three or four temples and it is just much harder to appreciate them.  Their main draw usually is the idol of the god inside the temple and it is extremely hard to get a good view of it.  In addition there was one temple that didn’t even let foreigners inside, so needless to say we had less success with the temples.

Beaches: The beaches were just ok.  We visited two: Baga beach and Calangute beach and both were not crowded at all by Indian standards, but I would say it was about how many people would be on the beach at Myrtle in Summer.  All parts of the beach were marked with red flags–meaning you can’t swim anywhere, and everywhere you turned there were people attempting to sell you jewelry or a tattoo.  The great part about the beaches is that they are lined with restaurants where you can sit and enjoy the view and get some food.

Other:  We went to a spice plantation and had a tour and lunch.  The lunch was a pretty standard thali, which is the same thing we have in the canteen every day.  Then we had the tour which was pretty short, but informative (for me since I know nothing about spices).  Really it was just a pretty place to relax for a while–it had the look of a tropical rainforest.  We also went to these old portugese battlements and lighthouse which had great views.  I don’t know what they were called, but we were very grateful to our taxi driver for taking us there.

The last thing I want to mention are the two most prevalent things in Goa.  Crosses and Kingfisher(the Indian beer) signs.  The crosses were painted on some buildings, some were on churches (which there were a lot more in Goa than I mentioned), and some were statue-type monuments.  The Kingfisher signs were on billboards, painted on stores, and on the bottles of Kingfisher that were littered everywhere.  I just felt I had to mention that juxtaposition.


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