For our winter excursion, we’ll be traveling to Southern India for the first time to explore Mumbai and Goa.
We arrive in Mumbai on December 17 by train. Mumbai is India’s largest and most metropolitan city. We start with a walking tour of the city where we will see the Gateway of India, an archway built in the early 20th century to commemorate the first visit of the english monarch to India. We will also visit the Holy Name Cathedral and the historic Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue. On the 18th we will pay a visit to the Haji Ali Dargah, a mosque built on an islet jutting off of southern Mumbai. It contains the tomb of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, who was a Sufi saint and a wealthy merchant from Uzbekistan. We will also visit Humsafar trust, an organization established by Journalist Ashok Row Kavi in 1994 to reach out to LGBTQ communities in the Mumbai area. On the 19th we will embark on a food tour of Mumbai, exploring it’s famous street food like Pav Bhaji, a vegetable curry served with soft bread rolls, and Bhel puri, a dish made of puffed rice, vegetables and tangy tamarind.
On the 20th we travel to Goa, around 600km south of Mumbai, Goa stretches along India’s west coast and is known for its Portuguese colonial past as well as its incredible beaches. Our first two days in Goa we will be exploring the serendipity arts festival a multidisciplinary arts showcase located in historical Panaji, a hub of portugese architecture in Goa. As part of the festival, we’re looking forward to a comedy show, a sustainable farmer’s market and I’m personally excited for the shadow puppetry. The next two days we will be staying at a wild otters research center in the Goa area. We will learn various wildlife field techniques like camera trapping, pitfall trapping, and how to build a bat box. We will learn about jungle survival by building our own raft (which we will test in the mangrove backwaters). On our last night at the research center we will learn how to start a fire, set up a barbecue pit, and cook our own dinner jungle style.
Throughout our last couple of days, we’ll get into the Christmas spirit, something that doesn’t really happen anywhere else in India other than Goa. We will attend a midnight mass on Christmas eve, and have our own little Secret Santa gift exchange amongst the group. We’ll also explore Goa’s calangute beach, experimenting with Goan seafood along the way and take an ocean biodiversity tour with Terra Conscious, an enterprise focused on ethical and eco-tourism. We hope to see the endangered humpback dolphin in its natural habitat through this tour. Finally, we’ll stop by the Museum of Goa to immerse ourselves in contemporary Goan art.
On the 27th we return to Udaipur, reuniting with our homestay families and getting back on the NGO grind.