Geo: 15.3913, 73.9485
We set out on our adventure, dreaming of exotic culture, food and warm weather. That, of course, was after we did the usual frenetic run to the finish line of house cleaning, preparations and packing. As we had cancelled our internet connection and didn't check to see if our flight was delayed and sure enough, it was...from an 11:30pm departure to 2:00am, making for a strained beginning to our travel.And so it began...a rush through Heathrow airport to catch our connection to Mumbai, another delay (1.5 hours) in Mumbai then 4 hours sitting on the runway only to arrive in Goa with no baggage. Although we have never lost our baggage before, I always prepare by choosing layers of clothes to fly in, ensuring I'm wearing my most important footwear, carrying on all medications, electronic chargers, a toothbrush and an extra pair of underwear. It has proved to be a valuable practice as I go into day 5 of no clean clothes or accoutrements. <br style="color: rgb(17, 17, 17); font-family: arial, sans-serif;
font-size: 12.8px;">Normally we would begin to buy some essentials by now like sunscreen and shorts but India has a monetary crisis going on (a decision made by government to thwart black market activity without full analysis of the consequences of their actions). Because money is not very available - as in every day we have to find a bank machine that is working, wait in line, make 4 transactions of $40 each if there is money remaining in the machine. Then we have trouble using the money because the machines dispense in denominations so large that most vendors do not have access to cash to make change. We have to pay our accommodations and food with this money so must ensure we have enough to cover that. Now we have wads of cash worth very little. A 100 rupee note is worth $2.00 and the goal is to have all your money in 100 rupee notes or less! Soon we will need our luggage to carry around money.
One of those unintended consequences of the government's decision is that tourism is down and tourists are afraid to spend their money, and sometimes cannot. It is the hardworking Indians trying to
run businesses or who work in tourism who are suffering most.Jim and I glance at each other with fatigue wearing obviously on our faces and wonder, "are we getting too old for this kind of travel?" We hope not and we notice we are certainly less resilient than we were 30 years ago; honestly, even 10 years ago. Ah, but India never disappoints. Driving from the airport, where distracted driving is a prerequisite for surviving in the chaotic deluge of scooters, cars, trucks, bicycles and cows, we never feared for our lives as these guys know how to drive here while phone in hand talking, texting and even taking selfies. I think of the driving in Saigon and Phnom Penh and laugh at how seemingly orderly that was compared to here.We have enjoyed delicious curries, bursting with fresh spice flavours such as cardamom, cloves, chili and
turmeric. The seafood caught daily and soft garlic cheese naan are to die for. And for those who know me, it's a miracle that I have not slopped on my one and only top in 5 days of meals - a record I am sure.Our plans for our stay in India are developing. In our tired moments, we think we will stay a month and go home. Realistically, we will wait here in Goa for a week or so, hoping to get our luggage, then head further south to Varkala and plant ourselves until the new year. Our apologies for few photos. Although we have some of our chargers (my IPad), we don't have the converter so don't feel free enough to use our electronic devices much.
UPDATE: Since first writing this, we received our luggage and are happily adjusting. At sunrise, Jim went out for his first fitness walk this morning and we did a quick FaceTime call - although frustrating with broken communication
- with our son. We are good.
To see more of Jim's photos and in higher resolution, visit his Flickr site.
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