This is exactly the look you’d get from me if I catch you taking a pic of me sunbathing!
Be forewarned you’re going to see a lot of pictures of cows in this post. As you already know they’re sacred in India and it’s illegal to harm them (and whoop! whoop! yes I got my Indian visa and made it to Goa). One cab driver told us he’d end up in jail with a hefty fine if he accidentally ran into one, so they roam freely. They’re every where, moving along at their pace, doing whatever they like, wherever they like — including napping on roads, playing on the beach, and, ahem, getting frisky under my balcony. I thought something was falling apart, and quickly discovered that cattle are, um, feisty lovers — luckily they’re also quick about it. The unimpressed female never even bothered to stop walking.
Cows aren’t the only ones roaming freely in packs. Dogs, who are not sacred, do the same, and while it’s not illegal to hit them vehicles pause and swerve and let them have their space as well. The animal lover in me made quite a few stray friends. This lil guy was my fave because he pawed me when I stopped petting him and then he barked at me to move along when my friends walked away. He followed us all the way to our hotel and then rejoined his pack of friends.
There were so many stray dogs, but they weren’t sad. They were free and, for the most part, happily enjoying the sights, smells and sounds as much as we were.
For the cat lovers out there, we didn’t see too many of them, probably because they’re smart enough to stay off the streets and roam about courtyards and alleyways instead.
Okay enough about the animals. I didn’t go to Goa to see them. I went to relax on beaches, drink at beach shacks, and inhale as much Indian food as possible. And OMG did I. Everything I ate was delicious. The only meal that disappointed was breakfast, and that’s because Western me wants her fancy eggs and breads (and good God a decent latte!). We stayed in Candolim, which wasn’t very busy because we went during off season, but that’s okay. We got to mingle more with Indians on vacation than Westerners like us, which made for more of an authentic experience — although whooping it up in a bar with tourists (even local ones) doesn’t portray life in India, but I’ll take it. We ate, we drank, we laughed, we danced. My favourite place in Candolim was the Fisherman’s Wharf, the one place that was busy every night with great live entertainment. Another place we thoroughly enjoyed was Sunny Side Up, a restaurant on the beach with great food.
Bagga beach is where the party is at even during off season. Restaurants/bars line the beach with tables, chairs and all sorts of entertainment. We saw fireworks, tight rope performances, fire dancers, and a whole lot of people inhaling a whole lot of goodness. Needless to say we laughed, we ate, we danced with the moon and surf. Because I knew I’d be whooping it up I didn’t bring my camera (I didn’t want to lose it or drop it in the water). I wish I had. lesson learned.
We also got to see locals dancing in the street to celebrate Ganesha, the elephant god, who according to the Internet is also the patron of the arts, sciences and letters. My kind of God.
I nabbed this from the Internet (sorry it didn’t provide a byline) to give you a taste of what we saw. Our dancers weren’t throwing colors, but a couple we met said they were part of a dance like this in Delhi. Anyway, long story short I like a religion that celebrates with lots of dance and color!
The way they celebrate is a good metaphor for my experience of the country. It’s sweaty, it’s spicy, it’s colourful, it’s loud, and it is ugly and beautiful all at the same time. It’s coy and totally uninhibited. The traffic and constant beeping drives you insane, but it has its patterns and it surprisingly works — until it doesn’t. Then you wait until it’s time to pick up the frenetic pace again.
And it has all of this…
My experience with the visa process and then the airports (although Mumbai is a surprisingly beautiful airport) made me not want to travel to India again, BUT my experience there made me want to see more. I only had a few days in one of its corners, a lovely one and totally worth the trip; India I’ll be back. I don’t know when, but there’s plenty more to explore and experience.
This is how my favorite salon serves me glass of water…they also gave me a super cool manicure that includes ‘mood’ polish, which changes color depending on my body heat. I freaking love it. Hot pink means I’m hot, which is most of the time.
I’ve only been back two weeks, but it feels longer because a lot has happened since I landed just two Fridays ago.
First off it does feel good to be back, which is always so weird because at the same time it’s so awful to leave my loved ones. Socially I’ve not done much: just eating, drinking and catching up with my friends who are still here (always a good thing). Work wise it’s been busy, but I’m good. I have three large sections of girls, but I like them all. It’ll take me a while to get all of their names straight, but so far I’m happy with this year’s students. Plus, one of my students from last year is chatting with me online, so I’m still getting the scoop on last years girls as well. How lucky am I to get glimpses of so many budding lives. On Facebook I saw that one of my students from way back just turned 29 — what in the world?!!!
I feel more comfortable and included at work this time around. I’ve been pulled into meetings I’m normally not part of, but lol I still don’t get much of what is being said since it’s in Arabic. That said fellow local teachers do their best to translate what I need to know, and that is so appreciated. I know this is not my forever home, but I truly do feel lucky to be where I am. Despite all the craziness, the last-minute changes, and the chaos of working in another country, I was placed at the right school for me, and I will miss all of this (okay maybe not the chaos and last-minute changes so much) when I leave. I’d like to think that I too will be missed. But, we have a whole year ahead of us, so no one’s missing anyone just yet — we’ll save that for June or July of whatever year I leave.
Travelwise on my part things have been a little crazy. First off we so lucked out this year. We have ALL of next week off for Eid al-Adha — whoop whoop! Basically, we come back, go to training for a week, teach for two weeks, and then whalla take another vacation. Sweet, right? Well you’d think that’d be the least stressful part of my being back. Not so much. First off Shannan and I were supposed to go visit a friend in Hong Kong. I was really excited about this, but after trying to book tickets FOUR times and failing I gave up. I took it as a sign that Hong Kong is not meant to happen this time around. Plus it’s a long fight and not the cheapest trip, so then we said okay we’ll do Goa, India. Short flight, cheap and beaches — woo hoo! Jordan landed us an awesome flight and hotel deal, so yay. The problem is landing an Indian tourist visa. Holy hell … the online application is a pain. The system kept crashing (could be my internet since I’ve been having trouble with it ever since I got back). Long story short after several tries I submitted my online visa app only to have it rejected. I took today off to go directly to embassy to get it worked out. Luckily, I called first and was warned my visa might take 7 working days, which means I’d miss my flight (it’s on Saturday). So, after several hours (I kid you not) of doing the online process thing again, I resubmitted my visa app.
There’s no telling if I’ll actually get approved this time around, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Looking at the pic of my passport I uploaded the first time around I see that it’s blurry, so that might have had something to do with rejection (and I can’t seem to get through to anyone who knows why it was rejected). We shall see. I’m either headed to Goa on Saturday, or drowning in my tears here in Al Ain. I’ll let you know how it all ended up. Lesson learned: don’t apply for this visa within the same week of flying out; make sure you have ample time to work out any kinks!
While all this is going on Joe and I are also planning our Christmas trip. Looks like we’ll end up somewhere in Scandinavia, but who knows that could change as well. We’ve some ideas, but it’ll all depend on what flights we can nab. South Africa is on the table as well, but so far that’s a really expensive flight for Joe. Either way I’m seeing my man in December!
Back in the U.S.part of my life, Joe and Kaylene are working on getting the house ready to sell. So much is going on at the same time … may it all work itself out to a debt-free, stress-free future for Joe and me — 2017 is the year we’ll both end up full time on the same continent together. woo hoo! Until then, let’s make these last four 2016 months count.
And that’s about it on my end for now. Next time I’ll post it’ll either be about Goa or me possibly goin insane — or both.