Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meeting the Locals

When you're travelling through Europe, many people will develop the "Not another cathedral" syndrome, where the thought of seeing yet another cathedral or church is enough to drive them to drink (that being said, there are many other reasons in Europe driving you to drink).

Old Goa was a bit different though. I still had fresh memories of walking into some of the cathedrals in Vienna, glancing around, and walking straight out after soon realising they were relatively uninspiring in comparison to what I had seen earlier. I was a little bit worried that this would happen again in Old Goa due to the high concentration of old churches and cathedrals in this relatively small area. Luckily, I didn't find myself getting bored. What I was confronted with in Old Goa was a huge and varied mixture. I found everything from the massive and grand cathedrals, to the small and reserved churches. Most impressive of all was the level of detail that was placed into the paintings and the decorations inside each of the cathedrals though. It gave a sense of European grandeur that I didn't expect to find in India.

The ruins of St Augustin's were the last thing we would see on our trip to Old Goa. In a way, it was fitting thing to leave for the end. The dilapidated ruins offered such a contrast to the other things we had seen, offering just a glimpse of the incredible scale of what was once there, but showing now the true condition of area.

Walking through the old ruins, we were also confronted by some of the locals. I've heard it said many times that the best part of travelling isn't the things you see or the places you go, but it's the people you meet. I never thought much about this in the past. In fact, I was usually of the opposite opinion. After all, who cares about meeting new people when you're in a place to "see the place". If anything, meeting random locals would distract you from the primary goal!

But, as I got older, I came to understand this statement in its true meaning. While I still want to see the sites of the places I go to, the interactions with other people adds an element to travelling that is special in itself. Meeting the locals gives you a perspective on a place that cannot be found in any book or by wandering around place, and meeting other travellers is always great for a laugh or to share some experiences with.

Wandering through the ruins, we were accosted by some area's children.

With their parents hard at work, these kids were left to run around the ruins to keep themselves entertained.

Running through the ruins with these kids was hilarious. Their contant laughter and smiles lit up our moods and changed the very feel of the place.
It was also nice just to see where they were running around within the ruins. They led us to areas we probably wouldn't have seen if we had gone ourselves and just added yet another interesting event to what may have been a "not another cathedral" visit.

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