About 80 Spaniards trapped in Goa’s not-so-Indian tourist paradise



Some 80 Spanish tourists remain trapped in the not-so-tourist paradise of Goa, a former Portuguese colony located on the west coast of India, which with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has been overwhelmed, with the progressive closure of hotels and food shortages. in the shops.

With 1.3 billion inhabitants and a poor health system, India decided to shield itself from the outside before other countries, with the cancellation of flights and the closure of borders, to which was added last Wednesday the mandatory confinement.

The number of coronavirus cases in the country, with 867 infected (three in Goa) and 25 deaths so far, seem to support the measures taken so far by India, although many experts consider these figures to be far from reality.

There was also a change in the Indian perception of the foreigner, when the until recently privileged western citizen began to be seen as a carrier of the virus, after it was confirmed that among the first cases in the country there were several Italian tourists, triggering suspicion to “white”.

FEAR ABROAD

The Consul General of Spain in Bombay, Jorge de Lucas y Cadenas, in charge of monitoring and helping Spaniards in the southern states of the country, explained to Efe that he is very concerned about the around 80 tourists stranded in Goa, where “there is a systematic harassment of foreigners “.

“We are deeply concerned about the situation of the Spanish in Goa. They are being denied the sale of food in open places,” he said, something that has forced them at the consulate to “make arrangements with the police to assist” those nationals.

Efe contacted several of those tourists in Goa, and although they all reported difficulties in purchasing food, in general they preferred to lessen the gravity of the situation.

“Everything has been a little odyssey,” acknowledges Efe the young Galician nurse Sandra Testa, who arrived in India last January, and for whom her greatest regret now after the cancellation of her flight is the impotence of not being able to return to Spain to help.

“I am a nurse, that’s why I urgently need to return to Spain. Here I feel useless without being able to do anything,” she says from the Goa hotel where she is installed with a Catalan friend and another from Madrid, with whom she tries to overcome the drink of the best possible way.

They have problems acquiring “fruit and vegetables” and in the few open stores, with very few products, they have to wait up to three hours of waiting.

We eat “rice, noodles, lentils and peanuts”, she explains, although she adds with humor that the Catalan colleague is a good cook and tries to “innovate” every day with what little they have.

Goa’s head of government, Pramod Sawant, announced this Sunday on Twitter two points in the north and south of the region where people with problems, “day laborers, tourists and foreigners”, could go to provide themselves with food and water, at the same time that announced that food delivery services had been given permission to work.

Many users of the social network, however, replied that many of those services remained inactive.

Thus, experience plays an important role in this crisis, and tourists who have been in the country the longest tend to manage best to find alternatives.

“A lady near home sells fresh milk” and the neighbors are behaving very well, says Núria, a Catalan tourist installed with her husband in a small town, where they have been traveling in the European winter for the last 15 years. .

The Basque Julen Esnaola, goalkeeping coach of the team of the Indian Superliga Bengaluru FC, decided to spend a holiday with his family in Goa before returning to Spain, and although the closure of the hotel where he was with his wife and two young children unleashed several “complicated” days of finding accommodation, now he recognizes that they are fine.

Even “the neighbors have left me a bicycle” to make the purchase, he tells Efe.

A DESPERATE SITUATION

But not everyone has been so lucky, and some of the Spaniards stranded in Goa have been caught up in a continuous nightmare since movement was completely restricted.

In the regional capital, Panaji, shopping in stores is very limited, explains a young Catalan to Efe, who prefers to remain anonymous so as not to worry his family.

He arrived in Bombay with a friend on March 10 and three days later they moved to Goa, where they stayed in a hotel where they have already been threatened several times with their closure, without any alternative.

There they are now given a humble breakfast in the morning, which is usually limited to black tea, while they try to get groceries on their own in the few stores available, which usually remain open for a few minutes until they run out of goods.

“We ate a sponge cake on Sunday that we were reserving. (…) We try to keep what is going to happen,” he says, while acknowledging that they have barely been able to eat solid the past few days.

“We have two ice creams, two milk packages, juices,” he concludes, listing his limited diet from the start of confinement.

Moncho Torres

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