Why do so many Americans visit Goa

Goa - a paradise that no longer exists

Goa - a paradise that no longer exists

Hippie paradise Goa? That was once. Instead of spiritual charm, our author met men with chunky gold chains, alcohol shops and sewers.

Five people drowned early in the morning on the beach in Calangute. Three lifeless bodies have already washed ashore, the others are still missing. This message quickly gets around and is acknowledged with a shrug. Your own fault, is the prevailing opinion: The group of Indian tourists jumped into the wild Arabian Sea at 6 in the morning, before the men had probably filled the lamp with alcohol. Like many do here.

Calangute is located in the Goa region, a popular travel destination in India. The former Portuguese colony has a beautiful fauna, fantastic beaches and manners that are more relaxed than elsewhere in India - an ideal destination for the hippies and freaks from all over the world who discovered the beautiful region in the early 1970s and took possession of it.

Love and Peace at sunset

One of the most popular destinations was the village and the Beach Calangute: Love and Peace at sunset, cozy huts and simple bars, meditation and yoga in Indian space, hash and parties galore - and all of this for free, so to speak. No wonder, it has been in vogue in relevant circles for decades to hang out in this paradise for a few months in winter or to settle down here forever. To this day, the meanwhile graying India fans rave about the past times in Goa. First of all: Goa may still have its qualities. But the hippie paradise is over; and definitely.

From wonderland to plunderland

“It's time to go!” Writes Deepti Beer, who lived in the region for years, in her blog and lists the reasons why more and more foreign Goa lovers are turning their backs on the region: pollution, overpopulation, commerce and a lack of security . Anyone who walks through the village with around 14,000 permanent residents today (2011) is actually not surprised that the flower children have disappeared. There can be no question of spiritual charm or Indian relaxation: the streets are congested and noisy, one alcohol shop follows the other, one dilapidated building trumps the next. The worst, however, is the garbage: Wherever you walk and stand, you walk and stand in the trash. Sometimes it drifts through the street as a sewer, sometimes it bobs around the shops and sometimes it stinks in neglected gardens. Plastic, bottles, packaging, tires, leftover food - everything is thrown away here and ferments unnoticed and cheerfully.

Admittedly: The travel time is anything but ideal, now in summer the temperatures climb to 38 degrees, it feels like 42. In addition, it rains for hours every day because of the monsoon - that is a big challenge for the partly ailing infrastructure. The monsoon is therefore not infrequently used as an explanation for the waste problem. Many locals say:

«It's only here while
so littered during the rainy season. "

In the winter season everything is again very clean and ready for the (western) tourists. Whoever believes it will be blessed.

Oversupply of accommodation despite mass tourism

Another sore point can be seen not only in Calangute, but also in the surrounding places such as the also heavily frequented Anjuna Beach: For years, more accommodations and guesthouses have sprung up, because magic mushrooms in the Napf area. But most of it is neglected, dirty and unattractive.

“The oversupply of accommodation has driven prices down, and that in turn has an impact on quality,” says Joe Fernandes, an Indian who, together with his wife Marietta, runs one of the few guest houses in Calangute that still has charm. The two of them know what they are talking about: tourists would keep knocking at their door because they would flee from the accommodation they had booked, which turned out to be shabby or unusable on site.

Foreigners are also the exception in the Fernandes guesthouse: They mainly host Indian tourists who, in the meantime, have stepped into the breach instead of European and other hippies and celebrate fun on the beach for a few days. Not only in the summer season, but especially then. This is shown by a look at the spacious beach: Hundreds of Indians stand for hours chatting by the sea, taking a selfie at the other or jumping more or less in full gear into the waves - the latter mainly applies to men. It is impossible for anyone to stroll around here in a bathing dress or even bikini.

It is particularly troublesome for women traveling alone

It becomes difficult for women traveling alone even on a bright day in the numerous bars that stretch along the beach: even before you have taken a seat, the first men come with their penetrating questions about name, origin and marital status. That is why the journalist prefers to drink her beer in the only bar on site, where the few whites who are stranded here gather: Without exception, they are fat men of advanced age, with chunky gold chains and tattoos on arms and legs - definitely not the type Person you imagine in a hippie paradise.

If you look, you will still find the good sides

Despite all these shortcomings, Goa still has its beautiful sides. They can be seen, for example, on an excursion to the historic churches and buildings from the colonial era or on a river trip including an entertainment program. In the summer season, with a bit of luck, you can have a special experience on a guided tour: As the only European woman with 100 Indians, curving through the area on a sightseeing tour. On board are people of a completely different kind than the hordes of adventure-hungry and thirsty mass tourists who roam Calangute: families with children, newly married couples and young people who have spent a few days from their jobs in Bangalore - the Silicon Valley of India - want to relax.

Goa is not quite lost yet

The dedicated tour guide knows many interesting details and funny anecdotes to tell about architecture and landscape; During the 12-hour (!) tour, people laugh and chat, exchange ideas in the foreign language as much as possible and generously share the umbrella when it suddenly starts to pour. And so you suddenly feel good again on this tour among all the lovable Indians. Isn't there a touch of Indian relaxation in the bus? Like it used to be in the hippie paradise of Goa? In any case, it is a glimmer of hope that Goa is not yet completely lost to mainstream and cheap tourism.

Full moon parties and nudists

At the end of the 1960s, when the hippie culture spread from the American west coast, the number of young people from all over the world who traveled to India increased. They were driven by the search for other values, for spiritual experience, for a supposedly freer life. The availability of drugs (hashish) also played a role. Goa, with a relatively tolerant population that initially had to endure nudists and free love fans, quickly became a Mecca for globetrotters, meaning seekers and hedonists. In the 1970s, thousands of Europeans traveled the hippie trail to Afghanistan, India, and Nepal. Goa was a destination that was always on the itinerary, mostly for recreational reasons. The full moon parties were part of the experience on the beaches of Goa. The music adapted to the respective trends, from the acoustic jams with guitars and drums to psychedelic rock music to the electronic version of the Goa trance. Its pioneers included former hippies who had settled in Goa since the 1960s. Nowadays, the hippie spirit has long been bottled and commercialized. You can take it home like a souvenir. (pb)