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These posts just keep getting better and better… This week’s guest post for the ‘Day-to-Day’ series comes from Rachel at Hippie in Heels who’s currently working and living in Goa, India. Rough life! If you’re an expat and interested in sharing the day-to-day details of your city shoot me a message at thepaperplanesblog @ gmail . com.
I’ve been living in Goa for almost two years and I love (almost) every day of it. While on a solo backpacking trip through India, I met my boyfriend here in Goa which is what pushed me to live here. I wasn’t sure about Goa when I first came because of the heavy trance and psychedelic scene that I didn’t mesh with. Over the first few months, it grew on me and I began to like the nightlife and love my village, Assagao, and favorite beach, Vagator.
Days start a little late in Goa (for me, anyway). A lot of expats in Goa work unusual jobs – jobs that aren’t your typical nine to five. I usually sleep until about 9 and I stay up quite late. Goa’s nightlife will do that to you! My favorite thing about Goa is that all the people I meet here are happy because they’ve come to do something they love, whether it be teaching yoga, opening a shack, or working as a waitress making enough to just live happily.
My days are exponentially different now than they were two years ago in North Carolina. I start my day with Starbucks coffee I have to bring from Bombay everytime I visit and a little chat with my housekeeper, which is very normal in Goa and almost every one of my friends here has a helper of sorts. From 10-11 I have Hindi class. I’ve just started recently but it’s five days a week and so far I’m loving it. It’s great to be able to say more than “Namaste” and “Shanti!”
I usually work on my blog off and on throughout the day, but fit in a jog with my dog and a dip in the pool instead of an afternoon shower. We love to meet up at Artjuna or Thalassa for a nice lunch or take our dog to the beach. On days I have a massage appointment, I drop whatever I’m doing because that’s about half my income at this point. I used to be a nurse, but now I give Thai yoga massages on a yoga mat on my living room floor! I also spent a decent amount of time on a new project I’m working on in Goa – but I’ll be sharing more about that later.
In the evenings around 5 I try to go to yoga about twice a week and head out to dinner or hang with friends in the evening. Luckily, we can grab a bite from a small shop even cheaper than it would be to get groceries! Most Indian families eat at home and the women in the family will cook some of the best food. We like to go to a nearby restaurant that is very family style when we eat Indian. Luckily, Goa has such a western influence that we can find most cuisines from Japanese to Greek made by people from those countries.
When we do cook, we decide that day and buy everything fresh. That means, stopping at Royal Foods or Ajay’s for some fresh meat (which I love to eat, but hate to look at and smell) and then the Mapusa market for our vegetables. When we cook at home, we make things we miss from our homes; my boyfriend, Ben, makes a great Shepherd’s pie and I love to make tacos.
I try to get a fresh flower bouquet every week, especially in monsoon months when we have less sunshine in the house. A bouquet in the market will cost about $1.50 USD for 10 big daisies or roses, although I never get roses! Sometimes driving in India can be a pain so I try to make my trips to the bigger city areas down to once a week. I had to learn to drive on the other side of the road, on the other side of the car, with no power steering, and figure out the clutch and gearbox! Add in the old van we have, crazy people on scooters, and cows; it’s an adventure that some days I love and somedays has me cursing out the window.
Sometimes after giving many massages, when I’m just feeling pitiful and tired, I’ll call one of the local masseuses to come give me a massage. Indian deep tissue massages work like magic and it’s even better that they will come to your home. My favorite lady will also thread my brows for about 50 rs (less than $1). It costs only 10 rs if you go to a local beauty shop, but the convenience is worth it.
The nightlife in Goa is what draws many people here; we aren’t into the trance scene that much but still go out for drinks. It’s very casual here but unlike the rest of India, girls can dress with a lot more personality. Drinks in Goa are just as expensive as the bars I went to in college in Ohio.
Not everything is perfect in Goa. There are some frustrations like the slow moving “tomorrow, tomorrow ” attitude they got from the Portuguese. Places are closed for Siesta from 1-3 or 4 p.m. and most places are closed on Sundays – it’s a huge Catholic area due to the long-term Portueguese influence.
I love that there is a variety of religion and nationalities in Goa. It’s the type of place that age and where you come from don’t matter much at all, although most people will tell me they don’t know many other Americans who live in Goa or even travel through.
Since I know I’ll be here longer, I am working to learn the language so I can communicate better even though most people do speak English. My boyfriend and I love to go along with some of our local friends to the holiday parties in the villages; something we wouldn’t have ever seen if we hadn’t tried to make friends with locals and not just expats. Goans are very happy and open people, so it’s very easy to connect with this unique state in Goa. It’s unlike anywhere else in the world, that’s for sure.
Hippie in Heels is the go-to website for all things India-related since Rachel started living there nearly two years ago. She left nursing to follow her dreams of living abroad after falling in love in Goa, and has since become a masseuse specializing in Thai massage. Rachel gives advice on the other 24 countries she’s been to as well as all the secret trendy places in India. Hippie in Heels is all about staying glamorous without spending a fortune to do so: she knows where to get the best massages, great salons and spas, and of course the hottest clubs from Europe to Asia and Africa. Check out her site or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.