I'm sitting in an internet cafe right now in Thiruchirapalli, a city near Madurai in the South, we've been a little bit out of touch lately, choosing to spend time laying on the beach in Goa, or going from one little town to another without stopping for Internet, but here are a few bits from my journals of the last few days...
March 8, 2009 -- On the coast of India...
I'm sitting next to Sergio right now at a table outside, shaded by coconut trees with the beginning of the sunset peeking through the branches, drinking the coconut water from a fresh coconut, and listening to the waves crashing on the beach nearby. We're staying at a family run resort and the owners are super friendly and welcoming here at Tarkarli Beach. I am so calm and at peace right now, after a day spend sleeping in, then walking miles down a deserted beach, stopping for fish curry and coming back to spend the afternoon writing, that it seems impossible that just two days ago we were winding our way through the chaos of Mumbai. The two places are worlds apart, even though only 400km away in reality. We spent two days in Mumbai, and although I felt like we only scratched the surface of the city, I was pleasantly surprised by it, much prettier than Delhi and much prettier than I imagined it to be. My first impression of the city was that it was crowded, modern, and contained the entire specturm of wealth-slums gave way to skyscrapers, which gave way back into slums, and then back into high rise luxury apartments. In traffic, we were approached by beggars at every stop, yet air conditioned luxury SUV's whizzed past us in our non-AC taxi. The two days there went by so quickly, just walking around and taking everything in. I want to go back for a longer visit, because, as I said, I feel like we only tasted a tiny drop of Mumbai life, only seeing the major touist monuments and eating a small sample of the food, and basically only gettting a glance at life in the city. Mumbai, I will be back!
March 9, 2009
Scootering around in Goa...
I'm currently laying in a cottage on the beach in Goa, an ex-Portuguese colony, listening to an American blues song that is blasting over a set of loudspeakers outside our beach cottage because the Indian-owned resort is having a Russian dance party tonight. Weird.
As soon as we arrived to Goa, we rented a scooter, since we were told it was the easiest way to get around....I can't begin to describe the chaos that is driving in India, so the best way I can think of to illustrate the experience is to give you my stream of thoughts for about 1 minute on the scooter...Now, I'm going to censor it a little, but generally when an expletive is used, it's because a car/motorcycle/autorickshaw/huge bus has passed us, but only just barely, we have passed a car/bus/motorcycle/autorickshaw, but only just barely, or some other really close call has happened. Also, I generally try to avoid using the Lord's name in vain, but something about riding on that scooter in heavy traffic had me invoking His name more than an evangelical preacher in his Sunday morning sermon, so I've replaced all those with the word Jelly.
so, 30 seconds inside Crystal's head while riding on a scooter in Goa and....go!!:
"ah, this is nice, the wind in our hair, the sun on our shoulders, actually, I think I would really like to buy a scooter when we get back to the States, I bet it gets great gas mile--oh sweet mother of all that is good and holy, there is a BUS coming straight towards us, why is there a huge bus in our lane, oh jelly, we're not going to--ok, unclench the hands, eeeeeee, f***, s***, that was really close, eeeeeeeeee, ok, sergio slow down, s l o w d o w--speedupspeedupspeedup!!!! there's a huge truck coming up really fast behind us, eeeeeeeee, sweet jelly, ok, this is ok, sergio is a good driver--cow, cow, COW there is a cow in the road and it's just staring at us, practically daring us to hit it...s***, ok, now there's something in my eye, ow ow, a mosquito flew directly into my eye, of all the places it could have flown, but how can i close my eyes?? then I won't be able to see where we are going and won't be able to warn Sergio of imminent danger, eeeeeeee, owowowow, SPEED BUMP!, EEEEEEEEEE"
and it goes on like that for the entire duration of the drive, however long that may be.
The rest of Goa was great, beautiful beaches, pretty Porutugese colonial houses, Portuguese Catholic churches, and fresh fruit:)
Eventually, we had to leave Goa, and I can completely see why some people arrive and end up just staying there. Everything is so easy and so nice, really idyllic. Reluctantly though, we packed up our bags, put our swimsuits, sunscreen, and my skimpy sundresses into the bottom of our backpacks and have taken back out the long skirts, long scarves, and pants, and prepared our "we might have on backpacks, but we're not your average gullible tourist looks". We also gave up the keys to our independent scooter, and have gotten used to hopping on random trains, negotiating with autorickshaw drivers, and taking 5 hour bus rides for 200 km on bumpy roads with no A/C.
So, we're back to "real" India, but the South is really pretty, and I feel its spirituality greatly. In the North, religion and spirituality were in everything, but more like a whisper or a gentle influence that you couldn't really pinpoint, but felt it's presence. In the South, religion shouts its influence from the rooftops, sometimes literally, with many ceilings and roofs carved with various religious figures, almost everyone wearing Hindu symbols on their foreheads, and Hindu temples on almost every corner.
Ok, off to find dinner, but we'll post more soon, and try to get some pictures on here!