We spent a day in Marmagao, on the west coast of India, in the state of Goa. It was just a taste – figuratively and literally. Bobby and I had one of the best seafood meals of our lives at a beach cafe, served to us by the proprietor, John, who had been educated in England, but whose family had lived in the area for untold generations.Goa had been under Portuguese rule for hundreds of years and there is a strong Catholic influence throughout the region, including people’s names, so it’s quite usual to meet people with Hispanic first and last names.
One of the highlights was visiting the Basilica of Bom Jesus, where the body of St Francis Xavier is on display (minus the odd finger or two, snatched by rival churches in need of a saintly relic.) It’s a piece of 16th century European culture plonked down on the coast of the Arabian Sea, heavy with gold leaf ornaments and a gilded altar.
A few kilometres away we came upon a small convent, brilliant white in the midday sun. And there, in the garden across the way we found this little grotto with its quiet little Mary praying as she watched over a small flock of similarly silver sheep and children. Utterly charming.