The End of India

Sad times. I started to write this post from the fetal position in a crappy hotel in Mumbai. After 3 incredible weeks, my stomach had had enough. I’m shocked that after weeks of eating as I please, its decided to explode from all ends. Chalk it up to exhaustion? Though, our last week has been the most relaxing of all.

Having really packed in the cultural and sight seeing activities in the first half of the trip, we were ready for the beach and pool. The south delivered. We checked ourselves into a pretty swanky pool in Cochin for the day, and sipped on overpriced mojitos that were worth every rupee. We also had our first contact with other travelers. This mainly led us to discover that Carolyn and I exclusively speak gibberish to each other and really like going to bed early. Party animals, I know. Practical shoes to come next.

We took our longest train trip up to Goa which was a surprisingly enjoyable 17 hours. Our car had a rotating group of people, all very keen to chat. I learned a lot about two men reunited after 40 years, and all the things they’d done in that period (marriage, 3 kids, a few grandkids, holidays to the US). They explained some o the extreme variation we’d seen between states in India, and their perspectives on why. They spoke about the educational systems and the influence that the British founded boarding schools still hold. One of the things I find the most unsettling about backpacking is my lack of context. Hearing their politics (and reading a great book on Indian history/politics/economics – thanks Katie) was a refreshing change.

Goa was unlike any beach town I’ve seen before. It’s a combination of: the remains of a hippy trance scene, the Russian mob, Indian tourists, Goan culture and backpackers. It has the best people watching to date. Russian tattoos were intimidating, and old trancers have spectacular fashion sense. We took a cooking class and dummied seafood to remember that we were still actually in India, rather than some vortex where time, nationality and jobs don’t exist.

We left Goa refreshed and sunburned, vowing to wear sunscreen next time. Hitting Mumbai meant our trip really was wrapping up and the nostalgia of all that we’d done began to set in as I planned multiple trips back. We spent our time in Mumbai poking around the art district, in hand carved caves and temples and on the beach watching the sunset over the city with ice cream. It was a city that, with a bigger budget, I could spend weeks in. More was planned, but my body nixed that idea and we painfully headed through traffic up to the airport hotel treat we’d gotten ourselves as a parting gift.

With that, and a heavy dose of cipro, I now sit on the plane to Maputo – diarrhea free. India has become a top contender for favourite country. It sits alongside Rwanda for most beautiful, South Africa for most interesting, and of course Canada for general wonderfulness.