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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

Last Goa pictures for a long time…

So our second set of Goa pictures from the last break are posted. Kind of sad to think that it will probably be years before we ever visit those beaches again (if, in fact, we ever do).

Sun, sand, surf, and food poisoning

Sunset over Benaulim beach in Goa, IndiaYum, yum, yum. Isn’t that an appealing blog post title? The simple truth is that we got a lot more of the first three than expected because of the presence of the fourth – a mixed blessing some might call it.

So here’s the deal: Alea, Breck, and Dave were gone the whole week before our Diwali holiday on school trips. We were planning on turning right around on Friday afternoon and leaving on a trip to Hampi (a historical world heritage site in southern India). We were going to follow up that visit with a jaunt to Goa for a few days of relaxation.

Well that didn’t happen. On the second day of his trip, Breck ate something that made him violently ill, and by the time 15 other students and 4 teachers on the same trip were hit by the bug, the entire class canceled the event and came back to Mumbai early. Alea and I didn’t know anything about this until we got back from our weeks in the wilderness, so we found that Susan had managed to nurse him back to almost-health, but he was still not strong enough to travel safely.

So everything to Hampi got canceled, we made backup plans to spend the whole time in Goa, and when he was back on his feet we were off to the beach. We had a super relaxing time despite the rocky start, and we’re starting to post pictures. Check out the travelogue from the first few days on our webpage, and we’ll try to get the rest posted soon!

Another Goa-round

While not as extensively documented as our last visit to the beach state, our new Goa pages are now posted. In honor of the fact that today is an election day, we publish below a shocking photo of just the kind of crazy goings-on for which Goa is famous. As the lady on the right seems to be saying, “What in the world is happening here?!!”

A four day weekend

Always a cause for celebration. We were so darn excited about the break – we packed ourselves off and headed to the beaches of Goa. It was a pretty funny sight at five o’clock in the morning in the airport: it seemed to us that 80% of the school’s population was doing the exact same thing as we were. Since local airlines, in their infinite wisdom, only schedule departures for Goa at 4 in the afternoon and 5 in the morning, we were all on the same flights together.

But Goa has quite a number of different areas and different beaches, and so we all split up and went our separate ways – with the Stutz family going back to Anjuna beach and the hotel we had so enjoyed before. We had told a couple who are new to Mumbai about the place we went last year, and they ended up staying there as well. Alea was a little worried about spending her vacation with her math teacher right next door, but we ended up having a lot of fun with them. We hung out with them for breakfasts, showed them around the beach a bit, ate dinner with them two nights, played in the water with the Mrs., and even had some laughs about the “Come look my shop” racket on the beach.

Alea actually had the roughest time out of all of us, though. In one morning, she forgot her glasses, bonked her chin and bit her tongue, got a fat lip from dad smacking her (accidentally!), and cut her foot open on some sharp rocks. She was a real trooper, however, and we all had some serious fun jumping into waves and body surfing. Breck had a super time petting all the cows and kittens he could find, and came up with some good beach-sitting humor (What kind of spice do the Eskimos like? Chilies!!).

We ran into some other teachers at a cafe Saturday afternoon, and they got a big kick out of all the bargaining I was doing for some shirts. In fact, I got an email from one of the guys this morning: There are 8 Goan woman standing outside waiting for you. They told security that they will sell you a shirt for 80 rs.” I told him that he can laugh all he wants, but now I have my “vacation shirts” for the next five years!!

We’ll certainly post up more pictures and descriptions when we get around to it. We have lots on the plate this week, as we get things ready for Oktoberfest this Saturday. We have one more normal week, then Alea and I take off for week without walls, and then we have another week off for Diwali break, during which we’ll head to Udaipur. Just to keep things all in perspective – that means the middle school has classes for exactly 9 days the entire month of October!

And yes, I know the Cubbies got swept. Just be quiet.

Slip sliding away

Things you never consider before living in a place that has monsoons: after 8 months or so with no precipitation, the rains have a curious – though utterly predictable – effect on the roads here. That first little bit of moisture ‘brings up’ all the accumulated engine oil, axle grease, tire bits, and other assorted petroleum-based product debris that has accumulated on the asphalt. This creates a super slick skating rink on the surface over which all vehicles must pass.

There was the tiniest trace of a mist in the air this morning, and it made coming in to school a mess. Luckily our van driver is great and knew what was coming (and paid attention to the people on the side of the road waving at him to slow down), but coming over a hill we saw a dump truck that had slid completely around, a bus that skidded and shuddered from side to side as it was breaking, and several people walking motorcycles with freshly-broken side mirrors on them. Another teacher actually saw a motorcycle take a digger while going around a corner, but we just witnessed the aftermath.

There had hardly been enough precipitation to even qualify as ‘moisture,’ but the effects were certainly noticeable. I wonder what else will be in store as the weather patterns start to change. The news headlines this weekend were that the monsoon has hit Kerala (news story here), and Goa is starting to shut down as the rains approach. It won’t be too long now; the big question is whether it will start to pour here before we leave or not…

Breck meditating on the Kiara roof

Regardless of the rain’s plans, Breck intends on using every ounce of sunlight before we take off. He spent the afternoon soaking in the rays (while soaking in a tub) on the Kiara rooftop. What a fun way to enjoy the weather!

Goa head

Sunset over Goa…and look at the Goa pages. They should now be pretty complete with our travelogue of the visit. After another silly week at school, those hours on the beach just keep looking better and better. Oh well, when the going gets tough, I just throw on one of the Goa shirts I bought and pretend I’m back there!

On a completely different note, I am sad to report that, since the previous post about spams on the blog was written, I have had to add 7 new drugs to the no-write list. The most recent was glucophage, which I know puts a big dent in peoples’ topics for conversation. (But Viagra is still OK to bring up, as Uncle Rob checked earlier)

Goa home

The Stutz Family in GoaAfter a full week of sun, sand, and sweet relaxation, we are back in Bombay. As mom unpacks to the snap-crackle-pop of post-Diwali firecrackers going off all around the apartment, the rest of us sigh in contentment.

There will certainly be more info posted on the goings on of this previous week, but I suppose a one-sentence synopsis is in order. To begin, however, a disclaimer – I have ever been a big fan of the sit-on-the-beach-and-do-nothing vacation.

Even with that caveat, I have no hesitation in stating for the record that this was probably the most smooth running, relaxing, fun, and mental-health-restoring holiday that we have ever taken.

The location was superb, the hotel was great (not ritzy, but exactly what we wanted), the pace relaxed, and the prices right. What a great time we had doing absolutely nothing (of course that’s not true, but unlike other trips to areas where there was a lot to see and do, this one was dedicated to the hedonistic pleasures of just relaxing, swimming, eating, drinking, and spending time as a family).

Susan wrote up a letter outlining our week; it is posted here at what will (eventually) become the webpage about the trip.

Goa way

We’re wrapping up the end of the week and looking forward to our Goa vacation. Everyone is very ready for a break: the kids are pooped after all the craziness around school, Susan is coming down with a nasty cold, and Dave is just plain ready to relax. One of the nice things about a holiday like this is that we are abandoning all electronic devices except the camera. No phones, no computer, no internet – just the beach and an old Portuguese fishing village. So don’t expect any updates for a week or so; and then we’ll have plenty to share after our return!