The island of Goa is the next stop in India. It was Portuguese ruled for 500 years until 1961 so has a Latin feel to it. The band (Trumpet, Saxophone, 2 drums) on the pier is playing a latin sounding polka as we come down the gangway. There is a Queen and King you can get your picture with the looks like she has a Spanish dress on. The pier is surrounded by green hills and rusting boats. Not at all what we were expecting. Immigration is easier today. The guys just look at your picture and add another stamp to the landing permit.
Today we are taking the included tour (free) called “A drive through Goa region” . The stops are three Portuguese Catholic churches. Not a temple on the agenda as the other tour choices are a crocodile cruise or visit a spice farm. It seems strange to be in India and visiting Catholic churches. In our 4 hour drive around, we saw way more Churches than temples. In fact, in front of most of the houses was a little Christian Cross alcove, rather than the Hindu alcove. Our guide also told us that Goa is the Hippie capital. During the 60s and 70s, many Hippies came to Goa from Europe. The local population welcomed them to the easy seaside style of life and they stayed.
The bus struggles up the hills and sharp corners out of the port area. There are seven rivers in the area, so we are never far from water. The homes are large and colorful. The streets are very narrow in the old sections. The first 2 churches are across from each other. The older redstone is the Basilica of BOM Jesus. It was built in late 1500’s by a Portuguese government official that didn’t want his wealth to revert to the government, so built a church for his remembrance. The alter area is all made of teak wood, telling the tale of St Catherine of Alexandria, is painted in gold, which is repainted every 50 years.
It’s a Basilica because it contains the remains of Saint Joseph ????? and has the cross of miracles. The Cross is said to glow and perform miracles. St Joseph is a local from Goa, who’s body did not decompose after he died and several miracles have occurred in his name. His body is entombed in the Basilica except for his arm which had to be sent to Rome to confirm the flesh was still there. Across the street is the white Se Cathedral. The largest in Southeast Asia. Its built is the style of a cross and much brighter inside than the Redstone Basilica. The grounds for both are spacious which is very different than we have seen so far.
Next we drive to old town Goa. Lots of Portuguese style houses and buildings all well kept. The third church, Immaculate Conception is in the middle of old town. The busses aren’t allowed so we need to walk a few blocks with our guide. She takes us through alleyways since there are no sidewalks in the streets and she doesn’t want us to get killed. Interesting peeking into the different shops and businesses. The church sits at the top of a hill. The guide suggests to not go up as the view is better from ground level. Mel and I agree because its 90 degrees with 90% humidity and we are all walking around in our own personal shower of sweat dripping off. Mel spots a scarf (yes another scarf) that she has to have and tells me to haggle to buy it for her as she walks away. My haggling skills are limited as evidenced in Cochin. The women says $10 and then immediately says $5. I say $8 for 2. She says no $10. I say ok because its still cheap to us at that price. We dropped more clothes and shoes off at the Basilica so we have room for two more scarfs.
Back to the ship by 1:30 PM because sailing for Mumbai is 3 PM, we take showers and start hydrating. Drinking lots of water while on the tours can be a bit tricky because you are not always sure the next bathroom that you are willing to use. They give us lots of water on the buses which we mostly stock pile and then start drinking when we know we are within an hour of the ship. Keep drinking when we get on the ship too. I have to say…. So far we have been lucky with bathrooms, toilets, washrooms or as in Thailand – Happy rooms. Most have been pretty clean, Asian and western style. I was telling Mel, I think a prefer an Asian style to a western style when the western style offers the washing with water option. The water tends to get everywhere, so might as well keep everything on the floor. The worse toilet was western/Asian at the Batu Caves. It was just a swamp in there.
Goa is another example where the western influence of the past 500 years has left an impact. Almost every country we have visited had some western styles. Was not expecting that, but does add a level of consistency to most of the big cities.
Yes we saw pigs and cows today, but no makeup.