Local Time: It is 3:50 PM on Sunday, 31 March.
Time Zone: GMT +5:30hr
How far did we travel this week? We travelled about 1400 kilometers total, from Hyderabad to Goa and back.
How far have we traveled on our journey so far? Taking into account the trips I’ve taken and the amount of travel per day, I’d say I’ve gone at least a few thousand kilometers. But there’s still so much I haven’t seen yet!
How did we get around this week? In Hyderabad, I mostly take auto-rickshaws and ride my bike. When travelling out of the city though (as in Goa), we took buses and cabs.
What was the most interesting place we visited this week? My friends and I visited a spice plantation outside of Panaji, Goa. We took a tour of the plantation and saw the trees, roots, flowers and fruits that are used to produce several Indian spices. Afterward, we had an amazing lunch made with the spices from the plantation. I ate so much I could barely walk back to the cab!
This Week’s Travel News: This week included the Hindu festival of colors, Holi, so a few friends and I went to Goa for a short “spring break.” We went by sleeper bus, about a 15-hour ride from Hyderabad to the east coast of India. Goa was a Portuguese colony before Independence, and the influence is still very visible through the churches, signs written in Portuguese, diverse population and cuisine. It is known for its beaches, seafood, relaxed atmosphere and fantastic shopping, and makes for a wonderful vacation. Now we’re back to the bustle of Hyderabad and real life.
Weather Tally: Every day has been sunny, with periods of breeziness in the afternoon. We’re going into the summer season now, so the weather won’t get any cooler.
What is the air temperature right now? 29 C/84 F
How was the weather this week? Goa was hot and humid, but lessened by the breeze. The average high temperature is about 38 C/101 F.
What animals did we see this week? We saw the usual stray dogs, wandering water buffalo, sneaky monkeys and birds zipping between trees.
What was the coolest thing we saw in nature this week? At the spice plantation, there were so many incredible plants to see. I was especially impressed with the clove tree, a skinny little tree that only produces cloves at certain times per year. To harvest them, you have to shake the tree before it flowers, so all the little cloves fall to the ground. They are later dried and used in a bunch of Indian dishes.
This Week’s Nature News: The spice plantation was incredible, but it was just a small piece of the Goa I saw. I was so happy to see so many trees, which gave shade when we really needed it. Leafy, cooling trees in Hyderabad are few and far between. In addition, the sea breeze in Goa ensured a cooler air temperature and a more comfortable atmosphere. And my favorite part of Goa: the fruit! It was so fresh and ripe, perfect to snack on in the heat. I had the best papaya of my life there. It makes me want to move there so I can have that experience every day.
What languages are spoken here? Since it is such a big tourist destination, English is a big language in Goa. Hindi is close, as it is the most widespread Indian language no matter where you go. In addition, many signs and stores had Portuguese names on them. Although I didn’t hear any Portuguese spoken, it is a cultural remnant of the past.
What type of money is used here? Rupees are used everywhere, just like the rest of India.
How much does a bottle of water cost? Rs. 30 for a large bottle (about $0.60)
What was the best meal this week? I ate so many prawns I thought I would turn into one! My favorite was the prawn curry and Goan rice I had at the spice plantation, although the hot and sour squid I had at a local restaurant was definitely a close second. I’m usually a vegetarian, but the seafood was too good to pass up.
What music did we listen to this week? Most of the music I heard was in cabs or autos. It was a strange mix of American pop music (Madonna, Flo Rida) and Bollywood songs. This seems to be the mix I hear around India in general.
What activity was the most fun this week? Playing Holi was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. We got packets of colored powder and went downtown to a square where a small festival was being held. There, we were bombarded with colors from every direction. Every single person there was a mix of many colors, no matter how young or old.
What did I read this week? My book for this week was Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell. I’d been meaning to read it for years, but only just got to it.
What games or sports did I play? Holi is the closest thing to a game we played.
This Week’s News: As mentioned above, Holi was the main event. We had color stuck on us for days afterward, and my friend’s hair is still dyed red at the tips! It was a strange experience to have people come up to us and rub powder on our faces. It was uncomfortable at first, but when we saw that every man, woman, and child was doing it, it became a game. Playing with the kids was the best part because they were really excited to throw colors at us and get some back. They even sprayed us with water guns filled with dyed water, giggling as we ran after them. It felt like a giant party, where everyone became a child again. For a few hours, we forgot that we were foreigners in an unfamiliar place. We were welcomed to join in the fun, and I’ll never forget that experience.