A girl. A journey. A new start.
I am the type of person that doesn’t worry too much when I travel. At least not about people in the destination country being unsavory characters. While everyone tells me to be careful and weary, I simply think they are being negative and naturally let those words go straight over my head and focus on what there is to gain.
My friend Siphokazi (who will be referred to as Sips or Sipho on this blog) decided to join me on my journey to India. I thank God, the universe and any positive forces that may have been present for her to decide this because I don’t think I could have done the first few days in Goa on my own. I have travelled to many places before. In my personal experience, none has ever been so vastly different to where I come from or the beliefs I have been brought up with.
We had booked the first 4 nights in Coquerial Resort with a plan to find an apartment we could rent on a weekly basis in those 4 days. Of course that didn’t happen because we spent the first 2 days working on SIM cards for our phones and trying to resolve why my South African phone would not accept an Indian SIM card. This, we could have never done without the help of 2 ‘friends’ we met at our first lunch in Goa – Cactus Restaurant. Cactus will not be remembered for its food, service, nor the 2 ‘friends’ we met there. Of course they were helpful guys and saw us as ‘African Sisters’. The magic was that they knew a way to bypass any rule stipulated in Goa…which, as we observed, concerned us and eventually, within 48 hours lead us to our AWOL mission from that not-so-tight grip.
It would be another 48 hours before we met our first Goan besties. We were on a hunt for an apartment and happened to be walking past a restaurant. The manager asked us to come in for a drink and we declined. Sips then saw ‘FREE WI-FI’ and the decline suddenly transformed itself into a change of heart to enter the restaurant. This is where we met Pravin (the manager of Carmos – the restaurant), Shailesh and Rocky (the owner of Club 21). Carmos and Club 21 became our spots….until monsoon arrived and sadly took it all away.
Our first day at Club 21 was 2 days after meeting the guys at Carmos. That also marked the first day we met Phillippe and Irina to complete our team. The events that followed brought us closer as friends and in some instances, like family.
As our journey progressed, we encountered many individuals. The more people we met, the more it became pleasingly obvious that the universe was shining upon us when we met Pravin, Rocky, Shailesh, Irina and Philippe. Every character that tried to get to know us was extremely seedy; constantly asking for our phone numbers and where we stayed. We were luckily paranoid enough not to give away any of those details; especially where we stayed. What would usually follow is that you would then find them roaming the streets looking for us. Now you may ask how we knew they were looking for us? Easy. They found nothing wrong or inappropriate in telling is that they have been walking up and down the streets for a few days trying to find us.
It is not my intention to deter you from making a journey to India when you a female or females traveling alone. It is however my intention to advise you to be extra careful.
India is a beautiful place. Parts of it are extremely breathtaking. You meet some great people, and you also meet some seedy people – more seedy people in our case. There is so much to see and experience, there is so much to love, there is so much to appreciate and there is sadly so much to break your heart.
Every journey teaches you something. This is one journey that is surely teaching me that there is no such thing as being too careful in some places when you are a female. In that, I have also learnt that culture sometimes has a bigger bearing on character than we care to acknowledge.