Friday, December 2, 2011

My Silent Soliloquy

The following day, we rode to Old Goa.  It was the original Portuguese capital of Goa, has a bunch of four- and five-hundred year old churches, and is now a Unesco World Heritage site.  The ride there was short, only about fifteen miles, but we had to get through the city of Panaji on the way.  And it seemed to be morning rush hour, and there were narrow bridges to cross.  We met the usual level of insane traffic being funneled across the bridges and through intersections by the local traffic police. 

Colin and I attempt to ride one behind the other (almost always, me behind), which is difficult when other vehicles are swarmed willy-nilly all around you.  One car driver was particularly insistent that he really needed to get around us and lay on his horn until he cut in front of both of us.  Shortly thereafter, Colin crept up the lane between the same driver and a truck (that is what you do here) when they were stopped.  I followed him through.  We played leapfrog with this same driver a couple more times, until one time, Colin got in front of the guy and I did not.  

His car was positioned so I couldn't pass, and then he opened his door, got out, and started yelling at me.  “Don't you know how to drive?You come to this country and cannot drive?I am calling the police! You cannot drive!”  I thought to myself, “yes, I do know how to drive.  I know how to obey traffic laws, I usually drive the speed limit, use my turn signals, and ensure my brake lights work.  I do not drive other vehicles off the road, do not pass in blind curves, and do not use my horn incessantly.  Since coming to this country, I have had to learn to drive with wanton disregard of virtually every road safety rule I know and basically ride by the 'anything bigger than me has priority' rule in order to stay alive.  If you drove in the United States as you drive here, you would be arrested.  You sir, and everyone else on your crappy ass roads, do not know how to drive.”  But instead of giving the man my speech, I simply nodded, smiled weakly, and pretended I didn't speak English, then rode away to catch up to Colin when I first had the chance.

We arrived (safely) in Old Goa and spent most of the day looking at the old churches.  I really never knew that there was a Portuguese history to this area before we started reading about it.  The churches are beautiful and many are still in regular use.  At the Church of St Francis Xavier, preparations were being made for the festival leading up to a feast on December 3rd.   Before we left town, we wandered through the atmospheric ruins of another church and took some lovely photos.  On our way back, we stopped at the same restaurant as yesterday for another thali lunch and then went back to the guesthouse to relax by the pool.

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