Tour of Goa..
Today we decided to go on a tour of South Goa, although we wanted to go, we were also pretty much forced into it because everything else was closed for the season. There were about 5 stops on the tour and they told us it would be an all day activity, so we loaded up the cameras and mosquito repellent and hit the road.
The first stop on the list was ancestral Goa. We paid our admission and walked into a building where we met our first guide. She talked to us briefly about the way ancient Goans once lived as she pointed at pictures hanging on the wall. Then motioned to us to follow a path outside where we would meet our next guide. We did as she instructed and waited for our guide.
Without introducing himself he launched into an incomprehensible rant about the hardships of life in the old days as he motioned toward poorly painted ceramic sculptures of people roasting walnuts. I could not understand one word of what he was saying and he did not seem to care whether I could hear or was even listening. I think he would have delivered his speech just the same if I was comatose. The only thing I did hear was him instruct us to go take a picture with a big cardboard walnut. I tried to say 'no thank you' more than once but he was insistent that the tour would not be the same with out this valuable piece of memorabilia.. So I made Max do it.
The guide walked away without a word and we stood there awkwardly for a moment before our next guide sulked down the steps to meet our acquaintance. She guided us in a monotone slurring together of words that was so monotonous I could hardly keep my eyes open.
Not that staring at ceramic people doing housework isn't titillating already, I have to get the guide who just walked out of an opium den? I spent the whole tour wondering who pays to see this crap besides duped tourists like myself. The only highlight was at the very end where we saw India longest laterite sculpture, a 14x5 meter Saint that was chiseled into rock in just 30 days.
It was time for the next adventure so I chucked up the deuce and peaced out of Ancestral Goa, more than ready to move on.
Next stop was two Hindu temples and having never seen one, I was excited. The first was Shri Mahalsa Temple, which I wasn't too impressed with.
It definitely looked nicer from the outside. The next temple was the Shiva temple of Shri Manguesh.
This 18th century white temple is a local landmark in Goa and the first stop I was actually glad to have visited. We walked up a few flights of outdoor stairs lined with people selling candles, flowers, food and other items to bring as gifts for the gods (not even outside sacred temples can you escape the notorious Indian salesmen). As we get to the exterior of the temple we are ushered to an area where we must remove our shoes and rinse our feet before entering the temple.
I stand for a moment contemplating if my desire to see this temple is greater than my desire to keep my shoes on, my reasoning being two-fold. 1) I simply don't want my shoes to get stolen. I've heard that this happens a lot, even at holy places. 2) I don't want my clean piggies wading in the filth and the grime and the athlete’s foot and the toe jam and all the other nastiness of the people around me. My desire to see the temple supersedes my germ phobia, I kick off my shoes and say my last goodbyes just in case. I tip toe through a few inches of crap water as I approach the door of the temple.
There is a long closed-off aisle running down the middle of the temple separating the praying men from the women and children. There is a sanctified area at the front of the temple where a shrine is set up to honor the specific deity, in this case Shiva, the destroyer. As we walk around the temple we are approached by the priest who asks us where we are from. We tell him we are from the United States and he thanks us for coming and tells us that he will pray for us.
" Do you have any American currency? Just a note of currency? You give me and I pray for you" he asks us.
I think he is requesting some change as a souvenir but when I hand him a quarter he scoffs at it. He puts it in his pocket and with a disappointed look on his face he says he will pray for me. Should that make me feel better about treading barefoot through the fungi-infested sludge before entering this place? It didn't.
We hopped back in the van and watched wading water buffalo and lush green trees as we drove to our next holistic site.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus (infant Jesus) is a beautiful brick church surrounded by huge tress and well maintained gardens.
The interior is impressively simple besides featuring a shining golden alter.
Our next stop was Panaji where our guide told us that there would be a nice market where we could shop for goods and souvenirs. The moment we stepped out of the van, the rain came pouring down without mercy. The "market" turned out not to be a market at all but a weaker version of an outdoor mini mall.
After attempting to tough out the storm for about a half an hour we jumped back in the van and headed back to Goa.