It's funny how time and distance change you, the roads you take don't always lead you home.
I am trying to see how many times I can pun the word GOA as I spent about 55% of this week doing so. We survived goa for holi, barely. A little dyed, burnt, and exhausted, we have returned to HYD to take on three more weeks of school and two of traveling. Refreshed in the ocean of the Arabian Sea, touched by the presence of elephants at a spice farm, and tanned by the sweltering Goan sun, we are home. After 12 hours on a bus filled with king size beds that looks like it may have retired from a long spell as a presidential candidate tour/orgy bus, we are home. To our air conditioned rooms, open air autos, and tea time, we are home.
Upon arrival in Goa, we were welcomed with rose water soda and garlands of seashell necklaces. We were ushered off to our room, where only the soft linens could keep us for a few minutes before we ran to the poolside. It took us a full five minutes to be reprimanded for our parade to the beach and into the lapping waves. The riptide and undertow was too rough and we were pointed down the beach to where a more “acceptable” swimming location was located. A walk on the beach and a jump in the waves later, skin pink and tongues dry, we headed back to luxury. The rest of the day was spent shopping the streets of Panaji where we found an overpriced alternative thrift shop for us to try on minidress after minidress. Our knees happily exposed, we headed down the street to do some damage at the tourist shops. I am happy to say I have successfully accomplished my one goal for being in India. I am the owner of a silver elephant ring–trunk up for good luck. We then stumbled along the infamous Tito’s lane before retiring to our clean beds (a revelation for us).
We woke early for the brunch buffet, and by early I mean we squeezed in at 10:59 since they closed at 11. They had everything from poached eggs and extra-extra crispy bacon, to dosas and chai, yet we chose to stay away from the indian variety for the time being. Our plates loaded with donuts and nutella, our glasses filled with fresh esspresso, we laughed the morning away overlooking the ocean while the crows stole toast from unsuspecting old women and babies.
We packed up and headed to the much discussed Goan Spice Plantation where were promised elephant baths and lunch. We drove for an hour through the Goan forest, around small beach towns, and up either rolling hills or mountains (we couldnt decide which one after much debate). Upon arrival, we were once again welcomes with tea and flower garlands. My friends toured the plantation, while I watched a family of mud bathing water buffalo We enjoyed our lunch and with full bellies we ventured towards the elephants. One look into the eye of this large creature and I knew I would not be going anywhere near it. I have said from the start that I wanted to ride a happy elephant, not one being prodded with a bull horn as it wandered through a car park balancing ten screaming, bubbly children on its back. Unfortunately refunds were not recognized and my friends and I had already given money to this horrible institution. We headed back to the hotel to swim, discussing the state of elephants worldwide as we vowed to do more research on this humble giant.
Our final meal was seafood overlooking the Arabian Sea with a couple we had met earlier in the week. They treated us to the largest prawns ever as we discussed their early lives in India and later lives with their children in New Jersey. They were a terrific couple sending us all into homesick mode as we prepared for one more day in paradise.
We checked out of our hotel and, after one more free iced coffee, we left paradise. Wandering the deserted streets of Goa looking for a hotel we were lost and confused. We finally put together that the Christian state of Goa was closed for Good Friday. We were out of luck, hungry, tired, and stranded. We called our bus company and got our tickets moved up and were able to find a plausible solution. Even though this vacation came to an early end, it was a time that brought us closer together.