Excerpts from 700-word article


by Pam Hobbs

I do believe I have discovered a tourist's paradise. Tiny Goa, about halfway between Mumbai (Bombay) and the southern tip of India's west coast, is everything I want it to be. Home away from home for sixteenth century Portugese, hippy haven of the 1960s, it is now a dream destination for travellers resting up from an exhausting tour.

Surprisingly small considering its past importance to world trade, Goa is only 100 km from north to south and roughly 60 km wide, criss-crossed with rivers destined to slow down anyone foolish enough to be in a hurry. Few are of course, and that's the beauty of this place: the snail's pace, the silk-smooth beaches, the deliciously warm ocean, constantly blue skies and temperatures in the upper twenties when there is snow back home. The quiet is perhaps best of all. In India I have been bombarded with noise, dirt, and unbelievably dense crowds. I loved it all, but now I am ready for five days of peace.

After centuries of foreign rule isolating it from the rest of India, Goa has successfully moved into an era of self-esteem and independence. Way back in 1510 the Portugese came looking for spices and stayed to create the greatest commercial centre east of Suez. Over the years they had to fight off other nations, quell abortive uprisings and contend with the plague which reputedly claimed 200,000 lives. Things went from bad to worse, and by 1961 fewer than 3,000 Portugese lived here when 30,000 Indian troops marched in, ending the 450 years' rule in just a few hours.