joylani 130pxHello Blog. It’s been a while. Let me explain. You see, Matt and I made it to Goa. Yes, the beach. Uh huh. So you understand the lack of writing? Good. Thanks.

Goa is a small, coastal state of India about an 8 hour train ride south of Bombay. The inland areas are bright green and lush with tropical plants, crops, and coconut palms. Catholic churches dot the landscape thanks to Portuguese colonialism. The beaches vary from long stretches of golden sand to rocky beach heads, and many are lined with beach huts offering cold drinks, food, lounge chairs, and shade. We stayed in Calangute, one of the busier of the beach towns, but since it was still the off-season, there still weren’t too many people and the 6km stretch of beach running along Calangute and the neighboring towns offered plenty of space to stretch out. Many of the shops and restaurants were still closed due to lack of business, renovations, or both.

Our guesthouse was a short walk away from the main action (and noise) in town and just a 15-second walk to the beach. It was nice to stay in a quieter spot where we were woken up by a rooster instead of cars honking outside. A nice perk to our room was that it had a refrigerator. In the mornings Matt and I could enjoy our breakfast of frosted flakes (Matt) and yogurt with granola (me) without having to decide on a restaurant, walk there, and wait for a not-so-great breakfast to arrive at the table.

We originally planned to stay in Calangute for six days just hanging out, reading, and walking through town and on the beach. Even though our daily itinerary didn’t consist of much, we never got bored and were surprised when we came to our sixth day. We paid our hotel lady for two more nights. Even though we didn’t do a whole lot, we never got bored. As Matt said, “It was like we left [Goa] and didn’t even know we were there.” Time flies when you’re at the beach. Here are a few of my favorite Goan memories:

  • The pigs. They seemed to be everywhere on the road to our guesthouse, lurking in the bushes. There were a few big ones, and many piglets. The pigs would scamper in front of our porch, looking like they’re trying to be stealth and avoid detection (probably because they’re afraid of being eaten!). For some reason, they would run as close to the side of the road as they could, and with their snouts naturally pointing down, those pigs couldn’t help but look conspicuous. My favorite was one big porker that materialized out of some bushes, and crossed the road in front of Matt. It stalled to take a glace at Matt and, after a short delay (the pig probably had to stop and think) it scurried off even faster than it was already walking as if it just figured out we could see it. Those pigs. They think they’re camouflaged or something.
  • Indian tourists at the beach.


    Try to imagine a couple hundred people at the beach who have never seen one before, or maybe just go once every several years (i.e. the antithesis of a Californian West Coaster). They don’t really know much about swimming, nor do the majority have swimming suits. What do they do when they see the water? Rather than setting up a little “camp” with beach towels, umbrellas, perhaps an ice-chest, a lot of people just stand around and watch the waves. Some go in the water. As for the women, if they go in the water it’s in full-dress. Saris, jeans, whatever. This is a fun sight to see because, I figure, it must be really worth it to them if they’re gonna go all-in. They’re having fun, and that is fun to watch. Most of the Indian tourists, however, are male. Those who fancy a swim and who have neither swim shorts nor the snazzy Goa tank top/shorts sets with the orange or yellow stripe down the side (sold by many shops along the road to the beach, very hot) strip down to their underwear (most looked like brown hotpants), frolic in a few waves, and then roll around in the sand with their [male] traveling buddies and perhaps engage in a quick sand-throwing war. It is definitely an odd site to see—partly due to the undies, and in part because of the openness of the male-male [though not homosexual] displays of friendship in a culture where male-female displays of affection, even as simple as hand-holding, are not the norm. Since we’ve been in India, I’ve seen many more guys holding hands than couples. The beach was no exception.

  • The monsoon. Despite arriving in the middle of monsoon season, Matt and I have been fortunate so far and have missed getting stuck in any big showers—partly thanks to being in Leh where it hardly ever rains, and partly due to well-timed naps or late-night showers. Goa was the end of that. Our third day in Goa I awoke to the sound of heavy rain. Looking outside our window I could see the coconut palms swaying in the wind and rain. It reminded me of the images I’ve seen on TV from Florida during hurricane season. Luckily the winds weren’t close to hurricane strength, but the rain was steady. After that first day of rain, it would rain off and on for short periods of time in the coming days. When we were on the beach it was easy to predict when a downpour would come because we could easily see the cloud approaching. But sometimes the rain came on so fast, all we would see was a wall of water and then 5-10 seconds later we’d be soaked. At night, this was a little bit more difficult. Sometimes the downpours would last at least 10-20 minutes, sometimes just a matter of seconds, as it made its way inland. Even when we got caught in the rain, I think Matt and I both agree that the showers were more of a delight than a headache.

the Goa short set

Shells on the beach. We spent our last night in Goa in Colva. Because we arrived late in the afternoon and didn’t get to see too much of the place, but we were able to take a quick walk on the beach before it got dark. There are small clam shells scattered all along the beach—the dainty pastel colored kind. The shells reminded me of the ones I used to collect in Redondo Beach when I was little. All of a sudden we came upon a spot of sand that was completely covered in shells. The shells were an inch or two deeps and spread out over several feet. It was wonderful. Just a lot of little shells. So I sat down in the middle of them until we saw a dark grey cloud approaching and it was time to retreat back to our hotel.


TO the left is our Calangute guesthouse, straight ahead is the beach.

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