Friday, February 8, 2008

Odds and Ends from India

Written and Posted from Goa, India

Now where were we? That's right, we were in Sri Lanka. Except that was yesterday. Today, today we are in India. Another day, another country! Oh, but we'll be in India for almost the next six weeks, so no new countries until then. You'll have to bear with us while we explore this place in the meantime.

Some words on our first day in Goa: the day started off bright and early because we had to wake up at 2:30am in order to catch our flight. We made it to the airport with plenty of time to walk around duty free and buy some Arrack, which is a seriously strong coconut whisky. So strong, in fact, that the people at the Icebear Hotel put it in a drink they call the "Lady Wong." It's aptly named. Then we boarded our flight, settled into our seats and a breakfast of curry and rotti. And I cannot even BEGIN to express my delight over the creamer-container filled with pickle! Pickle! I took a picture of it because it delighted me so much. It will be forthcoming.

After we landed in Goa, we floundered around for a little while trying to figure out where to stay. We ended up south of the airport, south of Old Goa, in a beach town called Colva (which, for those of you with a passion for Lafayette Hill, PA, reminded my so fondly of Kolvas that just writing the word Colva makes me want soft-serve ice cream in a cone with sprinkles). We woke up from a well-deserved nap in time to make it to the beach for a few hours before sunset. Here is a list of things I didn't expect to see but did: women and men playing in the ocean, fully clothed; cows hanging out on the beach; teenagers playing cricket; and saris, oh the saris. Our plan is to spend the next 4 days here, re-grouping after the past 52 days of traveling, energizing ourselves for the next 56 days ahead. Judging by the food and the atmosphere, I think we picked a good spot.

And now for those closing thoughts on Sri Lanka that I'm sure you've all be waiting for. The only problem with Sri Lanka is that we didn't give ourselves enough time there. For a small island, there is Just.So.Much. to see there. I can't even really do a description of it any justice, because it's really hard to explain the affection that I developed for the country. Every single person that we met was nice. At the hotel we stayed in while we were in Kandy (the Kandy View Hotel for those of you who are interested -- stay there!), the owner went out of his way to DRIVE us around the town, showing us the sites. When we didn't have time to make it to an ATM before our massages, he fronted us the money and put the massages on our hotel bill. It was just so unbelievably above and beyond general hospitality, that I found myself full of affection for the whole country.

I mentioned the Sri Lankan conflict in an earlier post. I don't understand the conflict myself, so to try to explain it to you would just make me sound stupid. Every time we ask someone about it, they go all the way back to Alexander the Great, and if that doesn't give you any indication of how little I know about it, suffice it to say that I can't even remember when Alexander WAS Great. But the interesting thing about the conflict is that I really just didn't feel its presence while I was there. Sure, we avoided taking public transportation. And there was that one time when we were surrounded by busses and all felt a bit nervous. But by and large, the conflict felt far away, almost in another, less-peaceful island. The island that I was on was just beautiful -- beautiful people, beautiful food, beautiful history and religion, beautiful land. Really, I would have stayed another week if we didn't already have these tickets to Goa.

There were a few other things other than the fact of Sri Lanka that made Sri Lanka so wonderful for us. The first was that we got to have a lovely meal with a lovely family. The family is our friend Upeka's family (hi Bert!), and they invited us to share a meal with them. We drove from Negombo to Colombo to meet up with them for lunch and just had a really nice afternoon. It was so good, especially for Matt and I, to be in the company of another person's family. It made us feel cared for and well-fed! We can't thank Upeka and her family enough for being so kind and gracious.

lunch with upeka's family

The other thing that made Sri Lanka so incredible was the fact that we got to share it with Chris and Amanda. Though it had been a few years since we saw them last, the four of us picked right back up where we'd left off, as though time and distance meant nothing. In between the last time we saw them and now, Chris and Amanda had a beautiful little girl, and one of the highlights of spending time with them was getting to learn all about her. I don't know if everyone has a couple like this in their lives, but Chris and Amanda are the couple that we've always looked up to. They're like our older-sib couple. They do big life things before we do them, and they do those things so well that they make us want to work harder at what we have, because they make it look so great and so effortless. In short, they inspire and energize us. So seeing them in this amazing country was inspiring and energizing. We certainly wouldn't have had the same experiences if we'd gone to Sri Lanka without them, and we DEFINITELY wouldn't have navigated the ass-roads without them. In short, they really just made our week there, and we're going to miss them. For all you Tinker folks who read this blog: seriously, LET'S HAVE A REUNION! LOOK how much fun we have when we're together:

Saucy Lasses
(That's an old picture, but it really does show how much fun we have when we're together. I mean, aren't we hilarious?)

Wow. I've rambled on a long time. If you're still reading this, you're probably ready for me to stop typing and get on with my trip to India. Well, so am I! We're safe and sound in this new and interesting place, and there are colors and experiences out there to soak up. Off we go.


Cris said...

Glad to hear you've made it to your next destination safely and soundly--can't believe your trip is nearly half-way over. I bet I'm more excited about that than you are :)

Strange question: did you guys ever consider visiting Bhutan on your trip? Matt Lauer visited it on his most recent where in the world is matt lauer trip (I know, I'm a dork) and it looked like heaven. And chances are I'm not getting to that side of the world anytime soon--so if you have an extra minute or two, would you check it out for me?

Miss ya!

Bert said...

Lizzi, you have a fan.. my mom! She called me at 4AM SF time to tell me all about the lunch!! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. Hope you had your filll of Sri Lanka for a while. Bring me back my fill, yeah? Thanks for the picture... it was sad/happy/everything to see it. I miss mom. And Arjuna is So tall!

Btw, you guys, about the massage.. that was so funny! :D I've lived there for 22 years and never had a massage like that :D I think you guy may have just hit a really shady one.. hehehe.. :D

Btw, my says Goa is Amazing! She goes to med school about 4 hours from there :P See, I have family everywhere!

Alan said...

Yes, REUNION it is. But where? When? Boston around Christmas? We'll swing through.