Sunkissed Christmas

When I was a kid, I always wanted Christmas to be exactly the same.  Eat at the same restaurant for Christmas eve, have the same Christmas
morning routine, go to the same church service.  I guess I found comfort in it.  I would be very upset at the very idea of deviation from the plan.  Luckily, people can evolve and this year I had the most unusual Christmas ever. 
To the first timer, every day in India can seem like the most unusual day of the year, but add a few familiar Christmastime items and things will be pushed into the realm of weird.  For Christmas, my companions and I traveled to the India state of Goa and to Palolem Beach (google and swear loudly). 
We flew there on Christmas eve where I got to experience throwing up in an airport.  Good fun, let me tell you.  But all that unpleasantness subsided and I had a lovely dinner of a coke.  We arrived and were picked up and drove about two hours through the jungly (that's a word!) country side to the small town of Palolem.  By our arrival it was dark, but the area was dotted with houses decorated with Christmas lights, large tents beginning to fill for evening Mass and the occasional nativity scene.  Goa was originally settled by the Portuguese and has a large (proportionate to India) Christian population.  Besides, it seems that everyone in India loves Christmas because they love to have fun and have an excuse to get together. 

So we checked into our gorgeous hotel and took a short ride to the beach.  Unlike beaches I know, there was no boardwalk, but a number of restaurants along the beach, all with beach seating and a hut like structure as the actual dining room.  I'm not sure I'm describing this well, but it was awesome!  We sat on the beach and as I sipped my coke, my friends chose from an array of fresh seafood's and curries.  Christmas was celebrated at midnight, like new years eve, with fireworks, lantern releases, and general merriment.  Upon return to the hotel, 'santa' visited us with a special gift (a mug) from the hotel.  It was very sweet, even if it was 2 am. 

The next day, I had a gorgeous breakfast and everyone settled into the beach life.  In full sun, the beach was spectacular, bright, and warm.  Oh, so warm.  It was so glorious and I feel like for the next two days, all I did was relax (as best I can on vacation) and eat.  We took a boat out to see some dolphins, which needs no description and around to a secluded beach where it was hard not to be overcome and jump in the ocean fully clothed. 

In the next two days we also rented kayaks (survived and it was awesome, no pics to preserve the camera)  We also went gambling on a small cruise ship off the coast.  It's illegal to gamble in India, but just off the coast- okay.  It was so campy but fun and the first time I played real blackjack (poorly). 

On the drive back to the airport, I think we were all justifiably morose.  Goa is a place that you promise yourself and your friends that you'll all come back to together.  That vacation place you will catch yourself daydreaming about in the dead of winter.  It's a place where you can truly put your cares away, enjoy nature, and drink a whole lot of Kingfisher beer. 

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