I woke up early today, got ready, packed my bags, checked out of the hotel, and walked to the railway station in Hospet. I arrived early enough (around 05:45), but the train was delayed anyway (arriving at 07:00 as opposed to the scheduled time of 06:30); when it did arrive, the other foreign tourists and I loaded in to our respective coaches, I found my bunk in “first class” (with nasty used sheets which I promptly piled on the ground, under the lower berth) and slept as much as I could. When I could sleep no more, I read the remaining pages of Pope Benedict XVI’s trilogy on Jesus Christ on my iPhone (using the Kindle application); I found his trilogy very well written and interesting, and I learned many things about the Gospel that I – shamefully – did not know before; the man is very knowledgeable in Christian, Jewish, Greek, and Roman history . . . as one would expect from a man who has dedicated his whole life to the Lord and theology. After completing the trilogy, I immediately began reading ‘The Imitation of Christ’ to continue my own study of Christianity.
As I read and waited for the train to arrive in Goa, I found out that we were now further off schedule and the train – which was supposed to arrive at 13:50 – did not arrive until 15:30ish. Upon arriving at the railway station, I grabbed my bags, walked out of the station premises, crossed the road, and took a bus to Margao bus station (the nearest transportation hub); when I arrived in Margao, I asked around on how I could get to Old Goa where the Se Cathedral and other old Portuguese churches were located (my plan was to lodge in Old Goa); the answer I received, was to take another bus, so I did, and I found out that Old Goa was very far away from pretty much everything (strange since the old city is usually in located in or near the nucleus of the new city or metropolis – if the internet did not give out in the hotel I was staying at in Hospet, I would’ve researched Goa and probably would have known this and been prepared for it, but, as the reader shall see, I was ignorant in Goa and this ignorance would cost me much time and frustration . . .). The bus to Old Goa sped through the heavy traffic when able, but the ride still took nearly an hour; I arrived at Old Goa just as the last minutes of sunlight were ticking by and discovered the streets to be crowded with people, food stalls, and souvenir shops; there was even a Ferris Wheel in a park nearby. The reason for these festivities was that Saint Francis Xavier’s remains have been pulled out of the Basilica Bom Jesus and put on display in the Se Cathedral for all the public to see – something that occurs every ten years. Personally, I was disappointed; everything that had sprung up around the cathedral and churches for this occasion was reminiscent of the kind of carnivals that would spring up in America’s past around oddities, freak shows, and news worthy attractions (think ‘Ace in the Hole’); it certainly did not have the air of reverence or a divine spirit. Oh well. So, I walked through the crowds trying to find a place to stay, but to my supreme disappointment, Old Goa is really nothing more than a collection of Portuguese churches and not much more; I found one hotel, but the price was outrageous for what was offered; so I walked to the outskirts of the town in search of another place and did find one more hotel, but they had no wifi (seriously India, what the fuck! I had an easier time getting wifi on the Annapurna Circuit in remote villages in the Himalayas – this is frustrating; many hotels in India simply do not offer wifi (something I would like to have to stay connected to the world and to try and update my website), which is something I had not really encountered any where else in my travels – on the Annapurna Circuit and in National Parks I had been to it was to be expected, but not in cities with a high influx of tourists). I then gave up trying to stay in Old Goa and grabbed the next bus I could find to get me out of there – when asked where I was going, I told the driver that it did not matter and to just drive, I would ride the bus to the last stop . . . which ended up being Ponda (pronounced “punta”) – this bus was also full of passengers (amusingly, there was a sign that read “11 standing”, but in actuality, theer were twenty-four of us standing). In Ponda, I walked around trying to find a place to stay, but once again, no wifi was to be found anywhere (I couldn’t cave in and give up for the night, I had to send a message to these hotel managers that they need to install wifi to attract guests or else risk losing money; I had to let those free-market capitalist forces do their work here in India). I then resolved to head back to Margao and try to stay near the large bus station there, but the first hotel I tried did not have wifi and the other ones – which did have wifi – were full; so I then hired an auto rickshaw driver to take me to Covah Beach (a tourist destination in Goa that was recommended to me by a local I had talked to); after arriving in Covah Beach, I finally did find a nice hotel with wifi and I even managed to get a third of the price knocked off (making it much more reasonably priced, albeit still costly from what I encountered elsewhere in India, but, then again, this is a beach resort town, so prices will inevitably be high). After checking in to my hotel room (at 22:30, seven hours after the train had arrived! ugh, this was a long and frustrating day), I dropped my bags off and sought out dinner. I ended up eating at a restaurant next to the beach and I had a water, beer, and a pepperoni pizza that had slices of Goa sausages and green peppers – it tasted very delicious. During dinner I watched the dance floor in this open-air restaurant fill up with Indian men (no ladies were enticed to dance) and it got a little wild; the dancers moved to the beat, one guy took his shirt off, several were yelling out, and two men invited me to join them . . . uhh . . . since this was an awkward scene and I don’t swing that way, I stayed seated; after finishing my pizza and as I was nearly completed drinking my beer, I was invited by two men sitting at the table next to me to join them since I was alone and their wives had left for the night; we talked for a while and I found out they were newly weds; I congratulated them, talked some more, and then took my leave at midnight. I walked back to my room, bought another bottle of beer to enjoy in my room along the way, and then watched some episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’ before falling asleep.