Our very pretty, but unbelievably expensive first night's accommodation in Panjim (Casa Fontainhas)
Finally we have escaped the horrors of the south and got ourselves up to Goa. Picking up where our last entry left off we took an early taxi to Madurai airport and after a brief delay we got on our Air Deccan flight to Bangalore. It may have been the relief but it was a really great flight, despite the fact that Steph was still ill and after being sick all day yesterday was feeling very feeble. It was a really pleasant feeling arriving in Bangalore, collecting our bags and walking out into the throng of taxi and rickshaw drivers to wind them up by saying yes to a taxi and asking how much to the departure hall. They get confused so easily and as we walked away they were all still struggling with it!! One actually came running after us and offered to take us on a one hour 'sightseeing' tour of Bangalore while we waited to check in for our next flight.
Our little balcony at Casa Fontainhas
We had a new experience when we went to ask what time the check in for our next flight would be as the departure time had been brought forward from 13.35 to 12.45. Never heard of that before and judging by the numbers of empty seats many people missed the flight. We'd only booked our tickets the morning before and there was no mention of a time change so it was lucky that we were early. The flight was uneventful as they usually are and arriving in Goa we took the easy option and went to the pre paid taxi stand to get a ride to Panaji, the state capital of Goa which still ratains a very Portuguese feel from colonial times.
We got dropped off outside the Afonso guesthouse in a really atmospheric and pretty part of town called Fontainhaus.
The view from our balcony at Casa Fontainhas
It looks exactly like Portugal, maybe a slightly disheveled Portugal but Portugal nonetheless. We were unfortunate that they were full. Steph was flagging badly so it was not the news we needed. On top of that it was the hottest part of the day and the walk around to other guesthouses proved mostly fruitless. The places we looked at were either way too expensive or way too dirty. We had to settle on a place called the Casa Fontainhaus which was a beautiful room with antique (as opposed to plain old) furniture a four poster bed with white cotton awnings, a fabulous balcony and aircon. Given the fact that by this time we were both feeling a bit ill, the price tag of R's 2500, although disgustingly expensive, was what we needed to recuperate for 24 hours. Apart from popping out for a small bite to eat in the evening we did absolutely nothing except relax, enjoy the surroundings of the room and chill out.
Adam on the terrace at Afonso Guesthouse with the Chapel of St Sebastian in the background
For a few happy hours it was possible to forget we were in India.
The next day we moved to the Afonso which at R's 800 was a much more affordable option although still crazy for India which in our experience is only cheap if you are prepared to stay in squalid rooms with assorted bugs, dirt and poor security. Anywhere else we've been this room would be half the price, our room at Rainbow Lodge in Langkawi, Malaysia was twice as nice for half the price!!! Everywhere else you travel there seems to be a price for a basic room which doubles for aircon. Here there is the basic price for a pit which doubles for a clean room and then doubles again for an aircon pit then doubles again for clean aircon.
We popped out for some supplies and a bite to eat at a restaurant called the Hotel Venite which was western style food, satisfying our craving for some comfort pasta.
Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
When we got back to the room with new waters etc we put them down next to one we had bought at Casa Fontainhaus and to our horror realised we'd been sold a rebottled murky brown local water!! When we bought it; it had come out of the fridge and was covered in condensation so we hadn't noticed, it had a proper seal on it and everything; which goes to show how underhand and thieving some of these people are. To make 20 Rupees they are prepared to poison people!!! It was doubly annoying as we always puncture our empty bottles with our knife which prevents them being re-used. Clearly not everyone does and the result is the locals go and fill them up with polluted local water. So please always crush or puncture your empty plastic bottles.
In our last entry we were quite frank about the disgusting behaviour of Indian men in particular the way the visually rape women as they walk around.
Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
When we had written that piece we gave it a great deal of consideration as to whether to post it as we are fully aware of the dangers of stereotyping but having decided to do so we went on to use thecomputer we were on to google for some information on our next destinations. As you type Google the history brings up past searches and our next destination is Candolim. As we typed the 'C' up popped recent users searches which included and we quote "Child fuck" and "Clean child fuck". Shocked we looked at a few other letters and found so many examples but including "European bride fuck", "How does vagina look", "How to break yahoo password ID" and so on. We really needn't have thought twice about our low opinion of Indian men.
As we said Panaji is much cleaner than anywhere else we've seen in India but walking around you can't escape the fact that it is still India.
Chapel of St Sebastian
The usual harrassment by drivers, hawkers of rubbish, grubby beggar women with the deliberately dirt covered baby as well as the stares of perverts. Whilst they are clearly too ignorant to get it the Taxi and rickshaw drivers are easy to brush off, wind up or chastise. We faced one down on a busy corner and told him outright how rude it was to shout at people and that as far as we were concerned it made him look like a dog barking at passers by. As he tried to shrink away we kept it up and let him have both barrels in a loud but even voice, he and those around him were appalled that we would shame him so badly in public. So that's our new hobby. We've also explained to a seller of drums the concept of 'no means no' as well as that if people say no to buying some piece of junk, making that piece of junk cheaper will not persuade them to buy it.
A float we saw on our walk through town
Other opportunities yet to arise are the futility of attempts to sell sunglasses to someone already wearing sunglasses as well as the facing down of the various perverts. A harder one will be the women who abuse their children by keeping them filthy and dragging them round town as a begging prop. We passed two yesterday standing by a public bathing fountain which was being used by other people and over they trot, baby on hip, with their pathetic pleadings, hand out and motioning to their mouth with the other hand pleading hunger. It's as much as you can do not to throttle them on the spot so it's a hard one to confront without losing the plot altogether. The truth is they earn such good money from the begging that they have to keep the baby dirty, hungry and crying and so many westerners fall for it.
If you want to help the people, buy something from a shop. We hate to say it but the market economy does more for poverty alleviation than charity ever has or ever will!!