Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day Thirty One: Hippie Heaven

Well, we made it. Two days, one tuk-tuk, one train, two taxis, one plane and six or seven bus rides later... we have finally arrived safely in Goa. Have you ever been curious about what it feels like to be a sardine squished into a little can? Come travel in India and you will soon find out. The illusion of personal space has been shattered forever.
I think Bilbo said it best, "It's always an adventure, stepping out your door. You get your feet on the road and there's no knowing where it may take you."
This journey has certainly been an adventure every step of the way. Last night, while I was brushing my teeth and looking up at the stars through swaying palm trees, I got to thinking about some of the crazy places that God has taken me and I couldn't help but marvel. "Wow, God, we've had some exciting times together. You're really cool. My life would be so boring without you."
(Yes, mind blowing I know. Life always seems to be the clearest when I'm brushing my teeth.)

Goa is a small Indian state on the west coast. It was a Portuguese colony for many years so it is traditionally Catholic and has quite a different flavour from the rest of India that we've seen so far. It is rightfully famous for it's beaches and has become a bit of a hippie paradise in the last five decades. Arambol, the little town that we're staying in now, consists mainly of beach huts, bars and open markets. One out of ten people is Indian (probably a shop owner). Four out of ten have dreadlocks. Three out of ten are old Russian men in G-strings. Five out of ten haven't had a "real job" in years, and never intend to again. Two out of ten are naked. Ten out of ten are spiritually seeking. So, basically, this is the place to be for backpacker ministry.
Gabriel, Nicki, Lydia and Anthony are renting a room in a house owned by two Russian ladies and Kaison, Katie, Petra and I are renting two thatch huts on the beach. (Being in missions is hard work, really, it is!)
We have been really encouraged by how easy it is to get into spiritual discussions here. Anthony and I were walking down the beach yesterday, looking for the juggling convention and not really intending to meet anyone, and we got into three great conversations just with people who happened to be walking in the same direction. There is definitely an ease and openness here that is not found in a lot of other places in the world. That can be a good thing and a bad thing at the same time but either way it is definitely a huge opportunity. I would describe the spiritual atmosphere here as "foggy" and/or "hazy". Both in the sense that it's vague and also that it is very deceptive and hides the real dangers that are lurking beneath the surface. Picture a cloud of marijuanna smoke that's lulling people to sleep and convincing them that everything's all right and there's nothing to worry about. When really they're adrift at sea with no land in sight. That's basically what Goa is like.

In other news, Gabriel has been really sick the last few days and apparently he got up in the middle of the night, headed over to the communal fridge, sprawled out on the floor and was eating some curd when the two Russian ladies found him, held him down and stuffed him full of something that he described as looking like black sand with chunks in it and now this morning he feels tip top!
In a completely unrelated incident, I unexpectedly got my ears cleaned out by some random Indian guy on the beach yesterday. Those guys are fast. By the time I realized what was going on he was already displaying heaps of wax that he had pulled out of my ears and demanding payment.
Kaison is still determined to get some fresh coconuts and managed to get half way up a tree this morning. We celebrated by setting off some fireworks that Anthony picked up for 5 rupees.

We're planning on staying here for at least a week and then maybe taking off for Hampi, which is a big climbing hotspot, or maybe somewhere else in Goa. Pray that God would give us clear direction on how long He wants us to stay here, where He wants us to go next and clear direction for what sort of ministry we should focus on while we're here.

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