With the weather playing truant in the past two days, most tourists prepare to leave Waddi beach in Benaulim before sunset to enjoy the rest of the evening within the precincts of their hotel as out on the beach the rain drops start falling.
The tourists appear happy with the beach and its surroundings. “I have been to other parts of India and I find the beaches in Goa very clean compared to the other years that I have been here and other States. It is more touristic now,” says John who first visited Goa in 1996.
But there are other issues. “We know Rex (shack operator) for the last 20 odd years and whenever we are in Goa, we are at his place. He is family,” says Marina, as she inquires with Rex whether he spotted any individual capable of robbing her mobile.
“This is the second complaint from foreigners that their mobile has been stolen. I do try and keep an eye but I lose focus when a customer comes to pay his bill,” admits Rex as he explains to Marina that he was probably busy when her phone went missing.
Waddi beach in Benaulim gets guests vacationing in one hotel that hosts tourists from the United Kingdom and has two shacks on land belonging to the church and two earmarked by the Department of Tourism and of the four, the two on church land appeared to be faring better.
“We have a few Russians who come sometimes but they are few,” says Jesilda Rodrigues who runs her shack on church property.
The shacks on Waddi beach, run by Goans, are clean, serve authentic Goan food and cater to the needs of foreigners who are mostly those who have entered their senior years. There is no music played and when a customer requests, it is mere ambient.
“We normally go back to the hotel after sunset as we do not feel safe when walking back after dark,” says Susan, as she too prepares to leave as the raindrops get heavier.
“The English,” says Rex, “prefer fresh juices, beer, chips and some fresh fish. When drinks are imbibed, an individual normally spends around Rs 500,” discloses Rex as the delay in starting late – due to the apathy from the government – rubs on him.
“I have just started. There were days when tourists came, got upset on seeing no shacks and went away. They at least expected a drink after a swim but the authorities were thinking differently,” laments Rex.
“Compared to before, I do not see many dogs on the beach and I think that is the positive I take from this year’s visit to Goa. There has always been value for money in food served and the roads are much better,” butted in John as the shack staff started removing the beach beds as the rain got incessant.
Unlike many other beaches, Waddi is one wherein no tourist from the country can be seen and according to Jesilda, she is not aware why, “Indians do not fancy the beach.”
The weather has also affected the fishing business. “My husband came back early from the sea as they realised the weather was turning bad. Some families have cancelled their fishing trip today because of the weather but they will re-start once the weather clears,” said Philomena as she carried the catch of the evening to a waiting vehicle.
“Business this year was not as good as last because the arrivals are not many. We have had mostly repeats from the UK and I think it is because foreigners now prefer countries where they get free visas,” thinks Jesilda who believes that, “little money is better than nothing.”
The beach starts emptying after sunset with most shacks closing after the last customer leaves, which is usually by ten pm. For the 100 odd tourists on the beach, life is a long prayer with tranquility.