Today I caused a scene in the lobby of the Phoenix Park Inn Resort. At the end of it I was storming out with my luggage and they were offering me everything free that pissed me off in the first place – but it was too little too late. Ironically, the only reason I am in India in May, the hottest month of the year here, and Goa's off-season, is because I had reservations with my timeshare company to stay at Phoenix Park Inn Resort this week.
I now know officially that my timeshare is a bigger rip-off than anything I've seen in my travels here in India – but what can you do? I'll be on the phone with Bluegreen and RCI timeshares when I return to the states – meanwhile, on the bright side, the lovely hotel manager and staff of the Silver Sands Hideaway were tripping over themselves to take me in – so I'm back with them and my comfortable bed and now, as a bonus, free breakfast.
Besides the hotel drama it was a good day in Goa for Miss Angel. I had some pleasant beach time with Santana the cabana man and arranged a drop off of the unwanted merchandise with the beach ladies.
The good thing about this episode is it motivated me to go anywhere but the hotel – I immediately walked out and found a cab to take me to Panjim for lunch. The cab suggested I go to the Pondo Spice Plantation instead – sounded awesome so off we went. On the way we found horrible traffic
and an hour later I was looking at spices grow in their natural habitat.
This is what a black pepper plant looks like (it's the vine).
Here is green cardamom – cute ground creeper.
A wee little pineapple.
Ginger root, lemon grass, cocoa, coffee, mace/nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla were also ogled – along with a token elephant.
Me and the children loved the elephant – I'm not sure if he loved us back the same – but he didn't seem to mind my camera in his face.
My spice farm trip ended with a loot of curry leaves and a taste of feni – the national liquor of Goa made of fermented cashew fruit. It's smoother than tequila but reminiscent of moonshine – I would not make a habit of sipping it.
Spices and lunch out of the way it was time for temples and my awkward foreigner attempt at being respectful, semi-participatory and documentary all at the same time.
Shri Shantadruga – an oddly church-like temple to the goddess of peace and Shiva's consort Druga. Apparently, she is revered by local Catholics and Hindus. I brought her flowers but couldn't get to the priest because of my bad Indian queuing skills (it seemed inappropriate to push in the house of a peace goddess) so I just left the flowers on an unsuspecting family's offering platter, chanted a bit and left.
Last was Shri Manguesh – a temple to a local Goan god predating the Portuguese Catholic occupation – and now quite healthily post-dating it.
The rules of the temple are a cultural curiosity worth noting.
Temples and spices down it was time for dinner in Panjim. I went to Lonely Planet's top pick for Goan cuisine – The Upper House.
I was greeted with fine food and beverage including: Caldo Verde – a spinach potato soup flavored with nutmeg.
Pork Sorpotel – a very spicy masala gravied pork dish served with Goan bread.
All accompanied by Villa Vercelli Chardonnay – the only Indian vineyard/winery growing this grape varietal.
After dinner I returned to Phoenix Park Inn to have my lobby scene and transfer back to Silver Sands Hideaway for a comfortable and happy evening including a phone call via Internet technology with my sweetie Lamar.