Sun, seawater and sand. Everywhere (yes, even there, way too often). We got to Goa five days ago, and per schedule I got the flu, and the enginerd got stomach problems.
Our flight took us first to the Moscow Sheremetyevo International airport. There we explored the food, facilities and taste of local beer at two of their lounges, somewhat to the point where we were nearly ready to pass out on one of the super comfortable couches. Later, I found two reviews on my WordPress mobile app, written strongly under the influence. You can read a cleaner, tidied up version of them here.
Our arrival to Goa via Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi took an interesting turn, when we realized no-one was there to pick us up at the Dabolim Airport in Goa. We tried to contact our hotel manager, but got his phone call a bit too late; we had already paid for a prepaid taxi. We were very tired from our six hour flight, and the several beers we had tasted at the lounges we’d been to after leaving the enginerd’s parents’ place. The one in Delhi wouldn’t serve alcohol before 11am, and would stop at 11pm, so our livers got lucky and got a break from being marinated, since we were there early in the morning. (Otherwise, the Plaza Premium lounge was pretty okay, the chairs super comfy and food very good.)
The humid and hot weather took its toll, and we were like two soggy bags of rice when we got to Arambol beach. The time between the airport taxi counter and arrival was spent looking for cash. The thing is, India announced the 500 and 1000rs bills illegal just about a month ago. Naturally, we had already bought rupees for 300€ in advance, and were now faced with the fact our money no longer was good here. We had no idea it’d be so difficult to exchange them to the new ones, although we knew of the discontinuation of the old notes. Which we couldn’t exchange in Finland, because there were no new notes t give us. Our taxi driver, a father of two, supporting his family and mother, said it has been very common lately that the tourists, and even the locals, don’t have cash. Luckily his boss was okay with us paying with euros. Our driver also took us around the nearest city, Mapusa, looking for an ATM that would have any cash left in it. He could do this, since his monthly salary, according to him, was set and not dependent on how many customers he’d have per day.
In Arambol, first we had to deal with our hotel manager, who was really, really upset for us not having waited for his driver to pick us up. There seemed to have been some sort of a mix up on our arrival time, and in the end, he didn’t charge us the 1700rs we had already paid for the prepaid taxi but his friend had now been left without. He even let us stay in his hotel 😀 To be honest, we loved his place so much we actually booked a room for one week longer here than we were planning (writing this, we’re sitting in the balcony and looking over palm trees and the sea). The hotel, as well as the owner, are both called Luciano, and both can be found at the beginning of the shopping alley near the end of Arambol beach. One of the land marks is his dad sitting by the gate, smiling.
Our cash problem continued to exist. We could pay for the hotel via Western Union, drinking water and laundry charged in our room bill, but how to get cash for food? We tried the ATM on Monday morning, stood in the line for 1,5 hours, got 2000rs. The next day, the machine was out of cash. However, after meeting two awesome Russians, Kseenia and Ilya, we learned that some restaurants still take old notes. Long story short, we’re now very well fed thanks to all these awesome places accepting our notes, and will no longer be in trouble for not having cash. One restaurant became our favorite after they also accepted our 1000rs notes, which now is even more difficult than paying with an old 500rs. We have also been able to pay for some other services with them. This is getting more difficult, though, since they can only be exchanged until the end of the year. Most locals refuse to handle them anymore because the banks are already getting more and more strict on who can exchange the notes and who cannot, and how much. This is to avoid money laundering. And why did they get new notes in the first place? To get all the fake bills out of rotation. The new ones apparently (just a rumor, haven’t seem any yet due to the lack of notes in rotation due to the small lots being printed) look like Monopoly money, and are far more difficult to copy.
So, after all this hardship, getting massively drunk with our new friends, having a tropical hangover, getting a little sick, being tired from the jet lag and meeting a local lady on the plane from New Delhi to Goa, who gave us awesome tips for adventures in Goa (thanks, Mita!), we have now started our first yoga course here and have found some rhythm in our life. We don’t know where all this will lead us, but we know the beginning has been exiting. We have spent a couple of restless nights thinking was this the most stupid idea ever, giving away most our stuff, quitting our jobs, leaving like this, but in the end, the worst-case scenario is just another insanely awesome vacation.
Next few steps are still kind of blurry, but at least we are on the road now. From here to Taipei, we know what to do. What comes after, we’ll figure out.