Monday had felt like the day after a long week. That long week had been sunday; when we had arrived. staying awake until the evening then had been a battle of the ages. This morning we were greeted with indian crepes and yogurt. The crepes felt soft and the yogurt hit with an extra tang. It reminded us along with the heat and palm trees that yes, we were indeed in Goa. At our guest house, the warm breeze blew into our eating area under a pagoda like building at the centre of the house’s back yard atrium. This place felt exactly like a holiday postcard.
Arun the COO of ISAC greeted us with an orientation on our shared goals and what the do’s and don’ts’ are around the community we are visiting. Particularly that of unspoken language with elders. It seemed that body language is truly the universal language and being respectful and fluent with was critical. After lunch, Sarah briefed us on how our project is ultimately about creating clean water and empowering women and how it seemed we had a long and potentially wave-making project ahead of us. With a quick wardrobe change we headed out to shop. We walked the narrow roads populated by small shops and houses and saw how everything was buried in nature. Pigs, chickens, and dogs wandered freely around the palm trees surrounding the houses with the sounds of birds and animals becoming the soundtrack for the walk. We reached a little shop by the name of Things and Things. It was filled with goods from necklaces, bracelets, hats and small souvenir items to traditional indian clothing and DVDs. Everyone tried out shirts and garments, fascinated by the unique local design, brilliant colours, looking most importantly for something breezy to wear for the heat. We stayed for an hour in that one little shop. It was a cornucopia of varieties and options. After picking out our things we practiced the fine, ancient art of bargaining and negotiated prices down. We were told to start at 1/3 of the offered price and to go to half but we got them down to about 2/3, still a win in my book.
With that and a quick swim to see who could do the best back-flip dive, butterflies, and laps, we fell into our beds while raindrops began to fall. The sound of animals, the occasional motorcycle passing by along the road, and the rain soothed me to sleep. This was it we’d arrived.