I’ve finally been to Goa and done the Goan thing. I’d heard so much about it. How great the beaches are, how cheap it is to live there and how its the best place for a holiday in the world and I get it I really do. The beaches that I saw were fantastic, the sea is wonderful and warm, and you can live like a prince for what we pay back home so it must be the perfect place right? Right?
Anyone wanting a beach holiday with cheap booze and food cannot go wrong by going to Goa. The beaches are great and pristine at least if you go early enough and the people are friendly but there is more then just the beaches to Goa. There is another side that isn’t all rosy. Behind the beach bars where the tourists normally don’t go you still see families living in poverty despite the huge amount of income produced now. Cattle can often be seen wandering the streets and some of these have become so urbanized they no longer know how to graze and feed on all the rubbish that is dumped in the back streets drawn by the smell and the easy food. Remember this when you find a restaurant that will do you a cheap steak and remember the food scares we had back in the UK over mad cow disease and our cows were treat a lot better then these cows.
Go to some of the busier resorts and you will still see the beggars even here. Not many of them are posted on peoples holiday pics but they are still there.
I’ve mentioned on a previous blog about the Sari girls selling goods on the beach. Does anyone really take the time to talk to them find out about how they live and what prospects they have. Well they start on the beach young. Very young. They go up and down doing little dance routines or sometimes stunts like rope walking all in the hope for a few rupees which goes straight to there parents. They start this at an age when we are normally just starting our primary school or younger. Could you imagine sending your children or grand children at the age of 5 or younger to do this?
I talked to a couple of Sari girls as I call them and found they were quite cheerful given their lot and really appreciated someone taking the time to talk to them. We shared a coke while they discussed their lives in Anjuna. Despite what we may think the Indian culture does not allow children in there early teens except maybe in rural areas where it is hard to regulate to get married. These sari girls do have an arranged marriage which they must go through at the age of 20 which surprised me as I had presumed they would be much younger. One girl, Lolita was 19 and dreaded being twenty as she did not want to get married to the boy her parents had chosen for her. She was slightly shy and giggly as we talked but that may of been the sugar rush and her friend answered most of the questions for her.
I asked what would happen if they refused the marriage or ran away. Despite the high temperatures you could feel the sudden cold in the air as they both suddenly become serious. Lolita spoke up this time. “They would murder us” she said. The hairs on my arm stood up. Surely in this day and age in a supposedly enlightened and apparent paradise of Goa this still doesn’t go on. The fun of the beach paled then, the sun didn’t shine so bright, the sea was not so blue and the cheerfulness just got sucked out of the place. I asked if they knew of anyone this had happened to but they both became tight lipped. I changed the subject as the atmosphere had darkened so much and it was as though the last several sentences had never been spoken and their smiles came back. I asked about travel and where they had been. I found out these girls had never left Anjuna in their lives. Lets put this in perspective shall we. They grow up from being little children begging on the beach, at this age a marriage is arranged which they must do by 20 or face death which is illegal but apparently still goes on and they never leave Anjuna which is a small beach village of only about 2 miles long and 1 mile deep. Next time you see these girls selling their goods don’t just brush them off if you don’t want them. Spend a little time talking to them getting to know them and maybe just buy them a drink. They don’t have much in their lives but they do appreciate a little kindness sometimes.
Would I recommend Goa. Yes definitely. The beaches are great, the sea is warm and it must be one of the most relaxing places in the world. I don’t know what we can do about the other side of Goa. Its not just this one place its a subcontinent issue that’s not going to go away just because a few angry wobbly burnt holiday makers wave their flip flops at it. Hopefully the government will eventually step up and address these problems but I feel it will be a long way off.
Thanks for reading.