The flight on air France was good and uneventful. I had champagne because I could. Aperatif ma’am? Why yes mademoiselle would love some. Anyone who knows me would chuckle to hear that I was seated beside two seven year old girls with a two year old sister next door and two hyper cousins in the vicinity. But they were quite sweet. Taxiing down the runway one girl kept asking if we were in the air yet. Nope not yet sweetie! Then I fell asleep and the kids were all watching movies and playing on ipads and kicking me. I woke up being poked and prodded… opening my eyes I look down and there’s Cindy Loo Hoo no older than two smiling and looking up at me. Hard to be annoyed.
The second leg from Paris to mumbai was pretty uneventful. I did notice that European ideas of special meals did not equal indian ideas of special meals. Plus they kept swapping seats. There was a lot of discussion with the stewards about the veg/Hindu veg/indian veg meals and whose belonged to whom.
When I arrived at the mumbai airport I went on an immediate search for cash at the atms. Exchanged US money at the currency exchange. Couldn’t withdraw money at the ATM. The driver was there to pick me up which was great. He’d been waiting for two hours! Customs took a full hour.
The next morning I went on a search for more cash. My two visas and my bank card were all generating sad errors. I tried many many ATMS. Absolutely nothing. Exchanged more US cash. Funny little Western Union office with a man with money in a small wooden drawer. Just loose bills.
Oh and the cankles! My god for the first time I got fat ankles from sitting for so long. So gross. And uncomfortable. Days later they are just coming down.
Walking across the street is an adventure in Indian cities. Crosswalks don’t really exist. There are motorcycles, dogs, trucks, buses and people everywhere. What I learned to do in Bangkok is to just run across worth a local make a temporary buddy and just trust you’ll be okay. The sidewalks are a nightmare … Tree roots heaving through the tiles. Dogs sleeping right in your way. And yet through all the ruin and filth they are proud enough of their store front to sweep the brown dust away with their long whisk brooms.
After my money adventure I went back to the hotel for the included breakfast. I was the only white person there. the restaurant was mostly full of indian businessmen. The buffet was full of exciting new things to try. I had a triangular fried thing. .. rice patty. .. Chai tea, spicy chapati and yoghurt. A rude businessman was telling the waiter off because they were not advertising one can also get toast and eggs and that maybe she (me the white foren) would like toast and eggs. The waiter finally came over to me and asked if I would like toast and eggs to which I happily said no thanks I don’t need toast and eggs.
I then got on a plane to goa. Flight was uneventful. There are slums lining the fence around the airport with what I think were Pakistani flags flying. While we were Taxiing along I saw a bunch of school kids emptying out of a school at the top of a hill inside the slum area.
Took an expensive prepaid taxi from the airport with a nice taxi driver. He was nice but also a maniac driver. We were driving in the wrong side of the street for half the ride dodging motorbikes buses cows pedestrians and dogs. Everybody honks to notify the driver in front you’re about to pass.
Finally we reach palolem after an hour and a half. My first guest house closed down since I booked it so we were moved to another called Neptune. I went to the wrong Neptune . (There are two). Carrie had messaged that she was there already but I didn’t see her. After a phone call and a short ride on the back of a scooter I was shown my room and there she was with Pina coladas at the ready! We drank a toast to our rendezvous then ventured out for happy hour and the first experience of amazing goan food!
That night while getting settled into bed carrie said what’s that thing on the bug net? I looked up and it looked like a worm. .. a large black active worm. We turned on the light and lost sight of it for a second. Then we realized #1 holy shit that’s not a worm it’s a centipede. And #2 double shit your pants it’s INSIDE the net. Carrie made me remove it but because of buddhist beliefs she would not let me kill it. It looked hard to kill anyway with its armor. I tried some wadded toilet paper but I could feel it all strong and wiggly and I screamed like a little girl. Next the towel. That worked. Threw it outside so it could terrorize the neighbors instead. Thoroughly checked the towel after. Twice. And again the next day.
Carrie needed to mail two parcels and sign her firstborn away to the Indian mail service and i needed an Indian SIM card. She had previously been told she had to have her parcels sewn up with white fabric for some bizarre reason. She had to go to the tailor down the road and they did such a crap job the post office guy jokingly asked if she did it herself. The bureaucracy here is mental. Photocopies of passport pages and visa and photos etc. required for each parcel plus for my Indian SIM I also had to give the guesthouse owner’s phone number as a reference.
Customer service here is hit and miss. Mostly people just barge ahead of you in line and they’ll serve anyone in any order. Passive agressive canadian stares don’t work I’ve tried.
End of part 1… stay tuned for palolem goa part 2!