TankGirl and the ballad of Captain Morgan’s

And so to the last 12 weeks of heaven.

This update is in the style of a dive briefing:

Divesite + Topography – Utila is a tiny island with 8500 people living on it, its a wonderful mish mash of locals, expats and tourists. MOstly a harmonious mix. I realised from some messages that you dont actually know where I am in the world… I am in Central America, off the coast of Honduras on one of the Bay Islands.

Where is Shelley? Oh there she is!

It is known as a drinking island with a diving problem, which makes me smile.
ROLLCALL :Naja – My american housemate, incredible dancer and all around positive superstar and force for good!
Dave – My Canadian Manager and good egg, really cares for the shop and the people in it, he is engaged to Nuria and they are getting married in Mexico this year.
Kevin the Boss – Lovely, generous fella with more stories than Jackanory, been here for 17 years and is building his dream hotel – Emilia – his fab wife.
Michelle and Jonah – Our new DMT ( Divemasters in Training) team, lovely intelligent folks. Mish – Australian via Hong Kong, sparkly bubbly can get anyone talking. Jonah – American fiercely intelligent, peaceful hardworking superstar
Raquel and Elena – The spanish best friend team of instructors, they act like an old married couple and are often mistaken as such.
Noe and MJ – The cays crew! Instructor and DM respectively. Noe smokes rollies is easy to laugh with and should never be allowed to wear a t-shirt and his english is improving rapidly ( more rapidly than my spanish!). MJ is polish and has helped me more with my guiding and air consumption than anyone ever has!
Louis and Chris – Our amazing Captains and Fish Finders in chief. Anything you need to know about the Island or the Cays – ask these guys – remember if the engine is on to ask the captain before jumping overboard. I have learned everything I know about Boat Craft from these two. They find the dolphins and whale sharks! Please tip your captain if you get to swim with these magnificent creatures. These guys stand out as captains because they are so easy going, we are allowed our own music on the boat – a rarity on this island.
Val – part human, part fish known as a divemaster in denial! Love this girl. Long term diver with us. Dry, funny and uber intelligent.
Sonia & Graham – These are a brilliant northern UK couple who make me grin massively. They are stellar folk. SO much fun to dive with, really chill and funny and kind. He has a maybe!
Dive Briefing:You will be diving today in Utila, a small gossipy community, where everybody knows everything about you as a person. The reccomended entry is to affiliate yourself with a diveshop and enter with the smallest splash. Once affiliated you have literally pinned your colours to a mast and in some diveshops you are not allowed to socialise with other divers – Thankfully the Morgan’s isnt such a place – but we know you exist and laugh!
You will find the bars to the left, the hotels to the right and the local town up the hill. You can sit anywhere you like apart from the blue tarpaulin, feel free to smoke wherever you like although in some people still have to hide it from their family – tee hee.
The dangers of Utila are mainly theft and drunken embarrassment. Please keep your hands to yourselves at all times and remember that the island has a memory. I find tequila and sambuca assist with both of these dangers either as a catalyst or a cure :-) Tequila Tuesday is legendary 10lmps for a shot – 50cents or 30p! WHisky wednesday is its brother and metal monday is in the gestation stage ( am working on it) The bars are Tranquilas, Coco Loco, Treetanic, La Cueva, Mainstreet and the beaches.
The mainstreet is the site for much instructor posturing – imagine montanita when instead of testosterhaze you find instructostrut.
The Creatures that can be found here, turtles, spotted eagle rays, Morays – both green and spotted, dolphins, lobster, crab, squid, barracuda and of course the holy grail – WHALE SHARK
Remember your hand signals – If I flash you the ok sign, flash it back. Ill be checking your air every 10mins or so – let me know what you have left with thousands on your arms and hundreds on your hands -Hugo you hve to come up with over 1000 this time!!As you can see we do not have bathrooms on the boat but we are surrounded by the worlds most beautiful bathroom – just remember wetsuits to your knees – we all share the suits and no one wants to dive in your pee!
If you get hungry after your dive, there are beautiful homemade brownies for only one dollar!
OK folks so keep your hands to yourselves and fins off the coral, keep your eyes peeled, to see the best of these dives look up, to both sides, behind you and into the deep blue – OK gang lets get going!Briefing over!
I feel like I really fell on my feet here. A series of fortunate events have guided me into the life that I have been dreaming of.. When people back at home asked me what I wanted from my travels..one of the answers was always to find a wicked dive shop to adopt me.I have found it. The morgan’s is an incredible place, they have given their stff the opportunity to help the place grow and evolve. It is unique in so many ways.
I realised in my last entry, i forgot the most important thing -my hula dancing was on top of the moon goddess temple. Those who know me know that I spent my time at night communing with Lady Lady (moon) and her gang ( the stars) It felt like a turning point in my head, life, all sorts – Hence the consecration part of the title. I have tried from then on to celebrate her and her influence in my life – th Empire records quote – I am guided by a force much greater than luck – I belive full heartedly in this. I was raised aetheist/agnostic and through out all my experiences and misspent youth, I have fallen on my feet with help from my dearest family and beloved friends BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL!!! I wont get all weird and preachy just a little note to say I know where my strenght and luck reside and never take them or it for granted. Love you lot and of course Lady lady!
So I have been here for coming up to 3 months. I completed my Advanced cert, EFR Rescue + divemaster in around 6 weeks. If you are prepared to work your ass off and have a decent amount of attention from your mentor then divemastery is possible in a fairly short amount of time.
The most fun parts were – Deep dive – You do all of these excerises that show how your mental processes slow and how colour is affected. The exercise was on a slate numbers 1-20 are randomly scattered, you have to point at number 1 then touch your nose, 2 touch your nose, 3 touch your nose and so on, On the surface I did it in 7 seconds, at 30m it took me 22seconds!! Narcosis is the effect that going deep has on some people. I am affected by it, its so funny, it like a mixture of being slightly tipsy and a partial lobotomy. I get easily distracted and find myself laughing a lot. You should see my notes of the mapping project for the first 30 or so meters, its incredibly detailed. Coral here, this many fin kicks, sand here. then we get a little deeper and it goes into “what am I supposed to be doing” “oh its so pretty here” “look a fish” hahahahah Im not going to give away the secrets of the deep dive tests but at one point I was sitting at the bottom with a can of coke and 2 pieces of food – i was giggling to myself thinking “oooh a picnic” I can concentrate through it but it does take some work not to see something shiny and go and investigate . Lalalalaalala oops! I love night diving too – bioluminescence, I felt like I was in the Potter – you wave you hand through the water and it sparkles. It looks like you are creating entire universes – i found carmina burana playing in my head and whispering expecto patronum! Its so fab seeing all the sleepy fishes. They say rescue is the most amount of fun, i agree fun worthwhile and tiring! I love the fact that to become a professional the first thing you have to do is learn how to help other people. it shows how awesome diving as a profession is. As a classic helper (thanks Susie) this is perfect for my personality. Quote from rescue – off the dock practise rescue – argh a panicking diver on the surface, i go to get my gear on…..Dont put your wetsuit on you tw*t…tee hee. I dont have many journal entries from this point. for the first 2 months I worked my ass off, its only really now that I have free time that is not always exhausted! I will get back into correspondance mode too.

amazing house! with the wonderful naja my first instructor!

So my days – I am up at 5:30 – I chill on my balcony overlooking the swamp, with coffee and smokes.

My beautiful kitchen and living room

My balcony - where the morning grouch is forced back into her bin

 Feel my personality return to me in, put my customer service head on, 

Get dressed in my bikini and clothes + Capt Morgans t-shirt ( heavily modified) and baseball cap(converted to the ways of the cap) 

My favourite place in my house!

Leave the house get to the bodega for 6:30 to load full tanks on to the boat, usually a couple of people do this – we load 2 tanks for each diver. I am tankgirl, hear me roar!! We stop to refuel the boat, at this point i wander off to get my ine fixes at bush’s supermarket ( teehee) caffeine and nicotine. Say morning to the folks in there. say good morning to everyone who walk by. And open the shop, we stock the cooler and take out any equipment that is needed..What follows is one of the highlights of my day – a quiet 20 min boat ride, sitting in the early morning sun. I jam my headphones in and just chill, watching the mountains of La ceiba and the flying fish skittering about. The breeze from the boat is incredible and seeing the houses pass by on the coast of the mainland is just beautiful. The sea is so different everyday, some days it is an impossible turquoise, others mercury silver, deepest green and everything inbetween. it beats hands down any other travel to work – nothing has ever set me up so well in the day. We get to the beautiful Jewel Cay, to see the sundeck coming up is amazing! All the cayes divers are ready and waiting for the boat with equipment in hand. Dear Killian calls it rush hour! every 2nd tank is then taken off the boat and given to the gang to set up their stuff on. We head off to the equpiment room and do the same.  Roll call is yelled out and then we are off…..Boat briefing is given. We sit on the roof of the boat soaking up the sun. I smoke and drink diet coke and chatter to my divers. At my old job a big deal was made out of “personal brand” I was thinking about mine here… I am known by my very short jetblack hair, massive earphones, constant bottles of diet coke and the cigarette. Flashing the metal sign or V flick in most pics. Stupid corporate thoughts popping up mid conversation! 

ANyway I digress….We then motor off into the morning sun to our first divesite. In the Morgan’s we got to the unspoiled northside for 95% of our dives – the other 5% are Wreck diving and weather related southside, which dont get me wrong has its charms but seriously the northside is just beautiful, the coral is in beautiful condition and the sealife is mindblowing! We take our divers out in certification level groups. or offer the choice to mixed groups. we aim for 45-55 min dives and I try really hard not to get lost on my way back to the boat. OK so a little before that what I do…. I take groups of divers out and lead their dives..I am responsible for their wellbeing and enjoyment. If divers have a dive plan or a dive computer then they are free to do as they wish, but for the most part i bimble off into the blue and show them the reasons I love diving so much. I get sucha a kick out of seeing these amazing things with people. New divers have such great energy and when you look at their faces, when you show them their first turtle or barraccuda its heart filling! When taking out the experienced divers you know they are getting kicks fromt he same but with the additional sights of the corals and teeny critters and cleaning stations! I LOVE cleaning stations and could just sit and watch one for the entire dive. It is true symbiosis in action. You get the teeeny little shrimp and the pederson cleaning shrimp busily working away on the bigger fishes, you can see the little fishes and shrimp clambering around the gills and teeth of territorial grouper. a lovely thing about the bigger fish is that they will flinch when they are going to move away or swallow to give the little helpers time to escape from mouth and gills and live to clean another day. amazing! I love looking at the little buggers. so yess inbetween dives we talk about what we have seen and I try to give advice to divers who maybe have issues with weight oir air consumption.

My proud moment – Student of WIN! When Hugo joined us he was a big time airsucker we would go on a 45 min dive and he would end up breathing from one of our tanks. After he had finished his course and started fundiving, we looked at the reasons why this happened. He changed his breathing and tried a few of my the tips that helped me with my consumption – like putting your tongue into the reg mouthpiece to restrict airflow, deep breathing ( i find numbers comforting so I count 4 in 8 out, 4 in 10 out) changing to frog kicking, breathing with your stomach, the whole works! and bit by bit his end of air grew – 750 – 800 – 900 -1000 WOOOP! We had a mini award ceremony on the day before he left (roatan diving) and since then I recieved this mail

*Hugo Macleod had 5 dolphins swimming with the boat to Roatan, then (you will like this one) 2 dives, one at 57mins/750 psi then 58 mins @ over 1000, yes Shelly OVER after an hour and 28.4 M, yer a good inspiration to me………………..thanx again for everything.

17 hours ago ·*

Hugo 🙂 xxx

and just got this:
Just wanted to let you know that Val, Sonia, and Graham were saying today how much they like diving with you. Sonia will be more likely to dive if you are her DM tomorrow…
Just wanted to let you know.

I ❤ my job, I love the people I meet. I love to share this place with these people. Once again lost my way a bit there…OK so I am responsible for them, I brief them pre diving. I look after them inbetween dives and help them out after the dives, I chatter to them all and take care of the nervous types. There have been so many fab folk passing through. Another lovely family was the stricklands – amazing kids! The dunfords – killian and sobrena – shaped the cayes.

Ok so after diving we rinse everything off and put it away and motor back to the mainland – after unloading the empty tanks and updating the records either I have a few hours in the afternoon to read and do my washing and recipe look ups or I have enought time to get some food and a shower and head back into the shop for my afternoon cover. I work 3 or 4 days in the shop depending on the week. At 5pm everyday “unless you are dead or diving” I turn up at the shop to meet the ferry, most days I stick around for an hour or 2. sometimes I get out a little earlier. I have other work that i do in my own time, like website content development and I bake most days. Divers get hungry on their surface intervals so I feed them 🙂 My recipes are on my facebook page, some work well others need tweaking!  SO after work I head home and either crash in a little puddle of tired and skype with you lot or get an energy drink or 2 and head out for food, drinks and dancing.

Ive met some very interesting people here, it is a transient place so the scenery is always changing. There are a few folk who I will definitely stay in touch with like Michael and Sofia Skala + kids and Ozzie Michael. Hugo of course!


Life affirming:

Swimming with Dolphins – this is always on the lists of things to do before you die.. and my goddess its incredible they are so noisy and playful, they follow lead the boat and play under the bow as you lie 3 foot aboveto the water them marveling. We slide with no splashes in water stay in a group and they come to investigate and play..Spinner dolphins for the win!

I end with a note on my first solstice away from the UK, with absolute love to the 143/’Dales/Eldonia dawn patrol: Ali, Martin, Kat, Mark, Rosie, Henry, Tansy, Stacey-boy, Jon, Mike, Soph, Big Mike, The Hans, Stacey-girl, Graham, Just Steve, Niktor, Alex, Lil Alex, Alex C, Gen, Rich B, Andy and Matt T , Belleface, Thom, Benna, Cormac, lenya, legoTom, Rob, Rich lee – hopes and wishes for you all…love to  my amazing parents M+D you rock!  to B,  Josh, louise + girl+boy bump love and joy in your ongoing ever evolving dreams and lives. To all the folk i have met in the last 6 months, its been an incredible adventure – thank you! Wishing you all an incredible year to come. Thanks to the universe for all these amazing inspiring people and the luck and opportunities life brings…

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My goodness what a long entry…..

Praise be to poseidon and of course the Lady moon – Blessed Be! 


Journal of a consecrated Moon Warrior

10 days in mountainous paradise:
For photo’s please check out http://www.surfsmithphotography.com look at Guatemala pics. They are incredible!

Its been a truly wonderful holiday with Sunny. A russian doll affair, a holiday within a holiday.

So I flew to Guatemala city. She met me at the airport despite having arrived 4 hours earlier. We hot footed it to the hostel at 11:00pm and settled in for a few hours kip. Up at 5am we were taken to a hanger and shown to the smallest plane I had flown on. It had fricking propellers not jets. It seated around 30 people. Toaster was the word Sunny used to describe it – not far wrong I’d say!

We were headed to Tikal – which are the most famous ruins in Guatemala and second only to maccu pichu apparently for size and scope. They are set in 256 sq miles of jungle and are breathtakingly beautiful. We had one hour on the bus and we arrived to a rather lovely hotel with a pool set within the park boundaries. We had 15 mins to don walking boots and get on the tour. I have many many notes on the ruins and the history and legends surrounding it – I will blog this seperately 🙂

The feeling of the complex was vast and ancient, I love history you can touch, imagining the thousands of people, living, playing, breathing, trading, loving. It was the worship and politics that really hooked me in. Did you know they had embassies in the city? Crazy non – other cities would send envoys to live and work in Tikal. The worship – by rules and traditions we cant understand, when the understanding of the world at the time was governed by the many god’s whims and the temples designed by science. The books they have found date back to the 16th century not further. Incredible to base the comprehension of a past culture written centuries late -hmmmm.

The ruins were absolutely awe inspiring – I overuse the word awesome i know I do but this is the real deal, the architecture and engineering. Brief overview – It was an astronomical observatory + temple complex + city. The Temple shadows align for equinox and solstices they were entirely accurate. Much like the henges but on a MASSIVE scale. The layout was beautiful and complicated. You can clamber all over the ruins  and we spent 4 hours doing exactly that. Looking at the behemothal faces in the walls, clambering the ladder of death. The temple was so tall, it was a touch vertiginous.

An early night followed an afternoon of napping, sunbathing by the pool and tasty tasy food. The next morning was the sunrise tour of the park. It was a particularly snarly shell that stumbled out of bed at 4:30am, its not surprising that I prefer coming home at that time. Poor Sunny…. I HATE mornings that involve anything more than coffee and ciggies but I love sunrises in spectacular places….Kinabalu, beaches in Bali, Montanita, Pangbourne Hills. This was incredible, we trekked over to the complex, camera’s and hula hoop in hand – very glad there werent any perky tourists.

We sat at the top of the Jaguar temple to see the sunrise – alas no sunrise but we did see the mist clear and the noises of the world waking up. parrots, howler monkeys and ROUS, believe me they were everywhere!

We bunked off from the rest of the tour and off we went to the Grand Plaza and off we clambered. I made offerings to her of blood, chocolate spread and a little tobacco. I wish I had taken incense but there you go. The sacrificial platform at the top of the temple was too good an opportunity to miss. I hopped over the fence and with a select playlist – Gnarls Barkley – smiley face, Gogol bordello – ultimate and Chemical Brothers – hey boy, hey girl, amongst others. I danced, it was like the last few months practice of dancing was for that. I got such a massive rush and an incredible feeling of well being. I have always talked to the stars and the moon and told them everything going on. I know im talking to myself and finding answers there but its a wonderful feeling.

Its a change in the way you travel when you have a partner in mischief with you. There are positives and negatives to both travelling solo and travelling with someone else. Solo you get to make all your own decisions, mistakes and decide what time to wake up and how your mornings are shaped, you also dont have someone to share experience with – you know its always better to be able to look over at someone and smile or scowl. Admittedly if you travel solo you meet more people to share small slices with. If you travel with someone you have company and other imaginations and egging on.. Practically you can also go the the loo in a cafe adn not have to pack everything up, company at 3am when you cant sleep cos of nightmares or just a raised eyebrow and a smirk when im being gnarly in the morning 🙂 With SUnny there is also her amazing photos, she is so fricking talented. I get to see what she sees. check out her online album on surfsmithphotography.com – funny and talented!

We snagged a ride to Antigua and found the Rainbow Cafe, which has great food and is beautifully decorated. I would have loved to host a stitc and bitch there.

Sunday – Another early morning and a trip to Chichi – I would write its full name but I don’t have it written down in full. the name that I have is Chichiwhateverthef**k. It is famous for its market, I felt like prey where the predators are 4ft high Guatemalan old ladys – eeeek! It is a colourful, crowded touristy, hot, hell hole. Pretty for half an hour, after that awful. so many people after your cash. I did help support that and got myself a little gift of a day of the dead mexican skull. I get a little anxious around that many people so was incrediby happy to escape to the incredibly colourful graveyard. Mis-meander I realised I was wearing my zombie t-shirt…yes…in a greaveyard….DOH! after laughing alot, we made a hasty retreat back to the market and finding a cafe, sat and watched the world go by. Kids and ffour foot old ladies with massive elbows and the drive of a sherman tank barrelled past. 

Anyway tired out but smiling we made our way via shuttle to Panarachel.- shortened to Pana. This was the first time since montanita that there was evidence of a rock sut this was the fcene. People stare a lot at us as we travelled together but this was the first time that it really felt genuinely warm, a pleasant interest, maybe its th change in me rather than a change in the interest.

Our hotel was incredible..We were the only people staying in the hotel on the 4th floor..with the most killer views. Can you say HOT WATER! such a treat. Hot water as a luxury. lunch in this crazy active little town. The chocolate shops alone were to die for. We wondered around and sunny of course took photos.

Seperate time – this is one of the most important things when travelling with someone. Taking time to have to yourself is absolutely imperative. Beth and I found this out a long time ago.

We headed over to San Marcos – I was warned about this village that it was been taken over by a bunch of sinister hippies and yogi’s. We got into a teeny b It was fab just to chill and read overlooking this moat and headed over there, we went on a reccommendation to Hotel Jinava and after a scramble around a headland ( dad- you would have been proud of the shortcut) aassive we gave up and got a tuk tuk 🙂 we found the pathway to the hostel which was lined with miniture sleeping policemen designed to trip you up whether you are coming up the hugely steep hill or going down it.From the first time I walked in to the place, i fell in love in a major way. It was beyond stunning. The enormous volcanic crater with amazing layers of volcanos (plural!)around the outside edge. . my journal reads – the layers of mist and the sunshine through – i am in heaven. You water soothes you and the birds wake you up. The windows open up into paradise! We had the best view in the whoe lake area we think! it took my breath away.

Sunny likes alot of attention and i like privacy so we flared alot at each otherbut over the holiday, we learned. Sunny kept an imaginary tally of the overheard words like energy, meditation, crystal, healing, it was so fucnny. we kept each other laughing. Onve we arrived there it was decided that that was it for seeing guatemala we were just going to settle there. We had the whole top villas to ourselves until the last day when a lovely american couple moved in and we got on really well with them.

We jumped off a massive platform into the lake and spent the days wandering and taking photos – i modded a hoodie and read an awful lot. Sunny took a lot of pictures. We headed back to antigua -Sunny took me out to an incredible monastry turned restaurant. we walked into the place to see a person dressed as a monk waving bug killer/ purifying sage smoke in a brazier ona  chain. it was amazing. there was a wandering and wonderful musical trio in the place adding to the evening, ive never been serenaded like that!

it was like bliss to have a little reminder of what decadence is.

We met a lovely Aussie girl called lucy ( doesnt shave though – eurgh and good for her rolled into one) she was amazing. San Marcos was full of the dreadlocks and ethics brigade. thos hippies who are too interested in the ideals to apply it to the real world, so much for actually being giving and compassionate, from those into healing 0- and yet not helping a onelegged man get onto t boat! it makes me  little mad actually that they talk about mother earth…blah…Gaia…one love…and yet dont pick up the litter they have dropped in the sacred area ( picnic area)/ There are some people i know, who do more than just talk it, they live it too without hypocracy, with absolute sinceity and it shines out of them. CDS Folk – you are my ideals for this. the true joy rather than the desperate old  men preying on young impressionable hippies.

I didnt want to leave and became deeply unhappy. But leave we had to and off I headed early morning to catch my plane that would take me to San Peddro Sula, before Utila,

I spent a lond day in La Ceiba airport, a boat had caught fire in the harbour and stopped all boats that day – I waitied in La Ceiba airport to get to Utila for the entire day fingers crossed – I got the last ticket on the last plane – thank you lady moon.

I really enjoyed my time in GUatemala and was very happy to have had the opportunity to travel with sunny and i wouldnt be surprised if we hooke du  again.

this was a month and a half ago so now I begin my tales of Utilaaar


Sunny: im a magical f’in princess!

crystal healing, unicorn loving, patchouli scented, son of a bitch!

Farewell Montanita —To Bogota and beyond

Crazy days!

First of all a farewell to Montanita… Montanita, oh how I love you. I couldnt have started my travels anywhere else. You have seen me get slim, tanned and more confident than I have ever been. You have taught me lessons and given me space to dance, chill, hoop and read. We have had our ups and downs  -the ups by far outweigh the downs. The reason why you rock so hard (apart from your beauty) is the people you gather to you.These people have passions and such skills and i am so happy that ive had the chance to get know them. The phrase like-minded is often used to describe the people that you will meet whilst travelling. It’s a diverse tribe of wandering folk. There are so many fantastic stories that come out of those experiences.

Most folk visiting Montanita are there for surfing or partying, I was not visiting for either of those things although both played a part, I wanted to start my travels in a place that would set me up for the rest of my time away from the UK. to show me how to be fluid and chilled. To get me relaxed into a slower pace of life. I need a certain amount of stability to allow me to gain the confidence to go and do try new things and new ways of life. My old job enabled me to travel, my Casa Del Sol stay gave me the confidence to travel solo.

It was incredibly sad to leave and Friday was pretty awful and lovely at the same time – waiting for the bus, exactly that just waiting but also needing to make the most out of it too. Knowing im not going to see B for 4 months was hard but the excitement that came from setting off on my own journey kind of balanced it out..certainly made for a weird day.Too many feelings to be contained in one brain, there were tears on the bus. OK so the journey:

It should have been easy – hop on the bus at Guayquil at 11pm and hot foot it directly to Bogota. I arrived in Guayquil bus station, I asked for the bus company’s office – knowing that it was close to teh bus terminal. No-one could tell me where it was the internet showed me nothing, I couldnt find a map. I started to panic a little. I called Jen who put me through to Yomaira and it turns out this office is a taxi drive away. ok fine so I grab a taxi and find the offices on a not very nice block all closed and no people to be seen.. my heart fell… so I head back to the bus terminal and think well I will go back closer to the time and see what I can find. Fed and watered myself stocked up on bus supplies called yomaira again and waited till 10:45 – still not open and still no-one to be seen! goddamn. I was starting to get a little jumpy..I had a series of flights booked that I couldnt change.. Oh the pressure! I went and asked at the other bus counters and on Yomaira’s advice booked a ticket to Quito. its an overnight bus and so everything would be open when I arrived the next day. I thank the forces that guard over me that the last bus was running in 10 mins to Quito – hooorah! Just the act of decision making gave me the energy to get my butt he  San Cristobal looked like it was held together with ducttape and chewing gum. I got on the bus following 2 nuns and a gangster looking chap who could have been an extra in The Shield as “gang banger 2” so I take my place next to the window next to an old man with about 3 teeth. wrapped up in a towel and one the blankets Sunny left me, with all of the nervous energy and stress of the evening I had no trouble at all in snoozing. I really love sleeping in vehicles, anyone who has taken me anywhere of length, knows that the sun goes down in a car – im going to kip! Etonces… My adventure began. The journey out of Quito was stunning lots of volcanoes shrouded in clouds and mists. Looking like islands in a tempest – I was lucky to be awake through this par Arrived in Quito and got my head and kit and thoughts together and took the reigns, Im writing this adventure by number books now! took the chicken bus to Tulcan – there really was a chicken in a bag on the bus. Kinda peacfully mewling to itself. I arrived in Tulcan at 18:00 on saturday. During the day in between kipping, I had some wonderful conversations with the kids on the bus and the back of my journal ( thanks Carly) is a hand drawn spanish to english dictionary. As he left the bus my lil 10 year old pal  who’d been sitting next to me gave me one of his precious shells that had come from his travels to spain. Shell for shell – such a lovely thing to do!

I took a taxi to the columbian border and waited in migration and waited and waited…Chattering to some lovely folk in the queue, my heart sank as I discovered that the journey to Bogota was another 25 hours and it wasnt safe to travel at night – I had been prepared and had made plans for 36 hours but not 48 on the bus, hostels, flights etc the nearest internet cafe was in Columbia all I could do is wait and hope….. something like an hour and a half later I got to the counter, only to be told I had overstayed my visa in Montanita and that I had to pay $200 OUCH!! I was like what? Its a 90 day visa, I havent been here that long yet! The said oh its cumulative from the year before – sheeeeet – so Im 25mins away from the nearest town with all my stuff and they dont take card! Bless the guardian of the stamps – he got his mate to take me into town and get the cash out then and there and took me back and allowed me to jump the queue and off i went with my tail between my legs somewhat ..It was at this point that my journal reads.. “I am  feeling cursed”  

I got to ipsales bus station (creepy place) and to my delight found that the night bus to Bogota was going to be leaving in one hours time – HOOORAH amazing amazing amazing! Thank you bus gods and I had enough money to pay for it and a coffee and an empanada!!! Wooooooooooop. Being aware of what the couple and B had said about the buses, I sat right up at the front near the drivers and very carefully used the beige silk bag of secrecy to hide my cards and passport, wrapped my precious stuff handbag in my towel ( never travel without one) and used it as a pillow and locked my main bag up and shoved in, in the very corner of my rather luxurious reclining seat. Creepy guy alert – There were maybe 6 people on the whole bus  and he crashed in the seats over the aisle from me – i thought there was something strange about his behaviour but i realised it could have been that I had been on buses for over 24 hours and I might be being a beardywierdy.. I took a sleeping pill and thought of nothing more…. Until I woke up shouting fairly loudly, only to see him hurriedly getting back into the seat next to his and my bag was near to the centre aisle, I checked that everything was there and  I kept my eye on him all the way to the next stop where thank gods he got off. Hoorah for padlocks. I snoozed on and off until we reached our lunchtime destination where I ever so thankfully smoked some ciggies and drank some coffee. I had smoked 3 ciggies in the last 16 hours and  2 cups of coffee in the last 24 – I wazs surprisingly good tempered. It makes me wonder – if there is no-one to see me whinge about having no ciggies or coffee does my withdrawl really happen??

I arrived in Bogotá at  around 17:00 making the entire journey 48 hours Montanita – Bogotá. I really like the feeling of achievement it gave me – Kinda silly but it’s literally the sense of getting somewhere. The graffiti in Bogotá is stunning. The Hostel did what it said on the tin with the extra added bonus of a consistently hot shower! My god such bliss! Next day I left early and hopped on the plane to El Salvadore and then to San Pedro Sula in Honduras. not much to say about that except I was invited to the swanky VIP smoking area in El salvadore, which was lovely and I realised I lost my last Fight School Hoodie – which sucked. So I arrived in San Pedro Sula

in San Pedro Sula on the 21st of March having crossed 5 countries in 4 days. It feels really good to be here. The hostel is quiet and lovely, its a converted house with a MASSIVE wall and razor wire. There were other guests until today, a fantastic canadian chap bertrand of 70 who is a train nut and has been travelling for the last 52 years. Just his russian visits number 35. Incredible guy to speak to. The other was an american girl called Linley, who was as cute as a button and on her home to New York today after 3 months travelling. I really enjoy the peace and quiet here. San Pedro is a pretty grim place. The beauty here is in the mountains that loom over the city. Even when its 30 degree heat there are storm clouds and mists,  over the peak. Ive had a peaceful few days and am now chilled and looking forward to Guatemala with Sunny. Im so happy to be going on a whirlwind tour of the country with her. I left the most part of my stuff at the san pedro hostel. just two small life pods to hand.

I am so happy, my brother and his lovely lady are having twins! I will be coming home beginning of August to see the birth of the next generation.  I have never seen or heard him look and sound so excited about anything and I wouldnt miss it for the world. 

Plans – Guatemala for 9 days with the wonderful Sunny then back to Honduras where I will live upon a pirate island.

Pictures – Damn it – forgot my cable to get my pictures off my camera and on to my laptop *slaps head* OK so the next few entries wont have pictures to start off with. Ill go back and update em I promise.

Music – I have found a way to seperate my Audio books off my zune so mostly I have been listening to all my tunes on shuffle but the highlights have been – Faithless, TJ’s Mix Cd’s pf mayhem metal and Mike Patton and Tricky.

Books – I loved loved loved Diamond Age by Neale Stephenson and Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt vonnegut.

With Love and thanks to: B, TJ & Whit, Kelly Day & Jase, Yomaira, Ryan & Amber, Nicole,Jorge, Laura, Laura, Sunny, Katherine, Jen, Alex(get well soon) and everyone else who made my time in Montanita unforgettable. Love to M&D, Schwaaar and Louise too  mwaaah see you all soon xxx

My Name is Shelley Tijeras!!

Carnivale – we hid nearly all weekend, it got pretty crazy but didn’t reach up to the point, I am so freaking happy about that. Ill advised clothes – where i love the fact that people wear what makes them happy without thinking about other people’s opinion, there have been some eye-gougingly horrific sights. To quote Hackers ” Spandex – its a privilege not a right” The one visit we made to town, i got a very light shaving foam coating. Its not solely the kids who do this, its the adults too, very macho men chasing each other with water bombs and shaving foam is quite a sight. Ryan and Amber were two friends who we met and they got foamed in the face… when I say they… I mean Amber because Ryan hid behind her and they say chivalry is not dead…..

Devilsticks boy – – – there is a troupe of performers here as you know..my favourite of the lot is a young lad of maybe 12  called Maicol, he doesnt appear to have parents here and lives with the artisano community. He is a juggler/diablist and a devilsticks man extraordinaire. We have had quite a few chats and he speaks very slow and clear spanish. I came into town lastweek and he was sporting a mohawk!! he was so proud of it. After a few days he was wearing a baseball cap, I asked him why he didnt have his pielo punk-ito (little punk hair) and he said he didnt have gel, I suggested egg whites. during dinner i thought about it – hot sunshine +egg whites = omelette head so I bought him some strong hold hair wax and hairspray and topped up my own supplies. I gave them to him during dinner and hawked his mo, you should have seen his smile!

Maicol the wonder punk kid!

BIT GROSS WARNING: same dinner as above with B. Jomaira,canadian jen, Kelly day and Jase. It was a very entertaining evening, towards the end a very happy handsome little puppy came over to get some attention. Jase called its parentage into question and in revenge it puked all over Kellys foot. She had razor sharp reflexes and 3 bottles of water in as many seconds was poured over. The noises coming out of her were quite alarming!

running and running…….I have always been incredibly mean about runners and my favourite phrase was “I never run…not even for a bus” and always thought joggers/runners were berks.  Are you sitting down? I am now running at least 6k every morning. 7k today. I freaking love it. I started out with 2k interval training style and now can run the entire beach. I am always an early riser, I used to smoke and drink coffee for like 4 hours at the start of the day. Now im up by 6:45am and running by 7. Yes a coffee and a smoke still comes into the routine. its for my metabolism, i swear! On Sunday, Beth started coming out and I went from running 2 or 3k to running 6k and upwards. Having her company really pushes me onwards. We plug into our MP3’s exchange a look and get running. Why is it that the hot boys materialise after ive just completed 5k and look like a beetroot? For the first week i ached everywhere but its that good ache. Today its only my quads that ache, I get so ravenous and am being so healthy. I have had to put two extra holes in my belt and bought myself a new teeny weeny bikini. Everyday I run and hula hula. My confidence levels are gaining and I am able to walk around town in a midriff showing top! Unheard of for me….

Brazilian Ju-Jitsu – Today I am having a ju-jitsu class with a guy who trains with Diego “the gun” Nunes. Its going to be interesting… He speaks no english and I dont speak portuguese 🙂 I have really missed fighting! It was an awesome way to kill a few hours. I really enjoy finding new and interesting ways to hurt an attacker and give myself enough time to run away (and now im able to run away too not just asthmatically wheeze and limp). We were going to have a week’s worth of lessons but the next day the braziliano’s decided on a whim to bugger off to Peru instead. I was given a training shirt and some stickers. The shirt has been cut up and remodelled and my laptop is currently sporting the sticker. Lovely guys, the language barrier was a little bit of a problem but the universal language of tapping out is well universal….. I miss fight nights at 143 or Ali and Martin’s. Watching the UFC with my friends has always been a  favourite event. Not like miss, miss but definitely would like to teleport for an evening or teleport everyone here.

Tsunami Night- blink and you’ll miss it! To quote my dad, the grand old duke of york would be proud ( for those non english folk reading this – – the grand old duke of york, he had ten thousand men, he marched them up to the top of a hill and marched them down again!) Now during my time here, I have successfully avoided any current affairs. Newspapers aren’t sold in Montanita and unless I’ve been looking for recipes or the weather I haven’t been looking at the BBC. I realise that this sentence has put me into the same bracket as people who proclaim ‘oh i dont read books, i haven’t read one since school’ and then expect me to continue talking to them. however I digress….I am taking a break from real life, ok! I found out about the Tsunami on facebook, thanks for the heads up facebook friends!After this the day took on a completely surreal edge. The news that South America was going to be hit by the shockwave acted as a catalyst for crazy person behaviour and lots of panic. It was quite grotesque the glee that some people had about an upcoming catastrophe so we pulled everything we cared about above the  imagined sea level and waited with one eye on BBC news. The wave graphs and ideas of when it would be hitting various places kept changing and getting later and later for Ecuador. With the pictures coming in from Japan, the tension level was rising and people as early as 11 started heading for the hills. It wasnt until I wandered down to the beach and  saw the entire place deserted that it started to feel real and fairly sinister. even at 6am the beach has some people on it. By 4pm the police had come around and asked us to leave as soon as possible. Nicole, Oscar, Kelly day and Jase were amazing and 4 journeys up the mountain, we had food, beer, chairs, music and a mattress in the truck. I of course packed my hula hula. We went to the very top of the canopy and drank beer and waited, Beth and I were severely hungover which made for grumpy pitts girls. We waited and listened to music and listened to the radio for updates. We waited and waited and Lesley did some hula with me. Mostly I crashed on the mattress in the truck. We heard as the galapagos was hit and salinas, we heard as the president asked everyone to stay on high ground. Part way through a message came up from the police via the communa that thieves were taking advantage of the deserted town and the local militia went hunting robbers. Ladron is the word for petty criminal in spanish, criminale is the name for more serious baddies. It got to around 11 and the closest place to us that was hit was about an hour away and still nothing had happened here. We were all exhausted and decided to go home to bed. by 11:30 we were tucked up in bed. around midnight Cachai saw the tsunami hit montanita. The tide went from incredibly low to really high 5 times in a very short time. Ither people were stopped from returning home and had to stay the night on the hills. As a surf town we have a lot of beach, so no property was damaged or people. Thank goodness! Its better to have evacuated and lost nothing, than the alternative. We had akin to a mini festiva l at the top of a high place (my favourite) with a suspense filled day. One for the books. Hope to never be repeated.

Favourite Quotes from the night: the President of Ecuador is a bit of a drama queen. This feels like a hitchcock movie with no finish.

Leaving – its the strangest feeling – I REALLY dont want to leave but I know its going to we worthwhile. I could easily build a life for myself here. Teaching Hula and Poi, modding clothes and dancing. Its sustainable for a while but really I need a skill that can support my search for a warm life. My plan for the close future, bus to Bogota, fly to honduras, chill for a few days in San Pedro. Fly to Guatemala. Im spending the next few weeks with the wonderful Sunny. More about this later.

 Shelley Tijeras – New nickname – all of the wonderful local folks here at CSD call me this… Love it!! its based on Rosario Tijeras which is a columbian TV novella & film based on a hardcore girl with guns 🙂 Tijeras means scissors. The lovely Jorge started calling me this, due to the fact you will never see me without my craft kit and of course i’m nails! OK so another fact of ecuadorian life is the greetings, all day everyday the locals will just yell out your name as recognition of you being there. Its lovely, so either you get ( in spanish) hey, how are you? response:- everything is wonderful and you? or just your name yelled. In my case Shelley Tiiiijjjeeerrrraaassssss – ola jorge or julio or katty or Juanito Bandito, burrito etc. Its incredibly rude to walk past someone and not acknowledge their presence. Sometimes you spend more time saying hi and giving kisses to everyone than you do actually speaking to them.

Amazing Theo the Jellyfish Magnet, Im not a fan of children on the whole. There are a few exceptions, lenya, cormac, lil alex and now Theo. He is a 13 year old lad born in wimbledon raised in the US, and he is already surfing the point. Unlike other young surfers here, he doesnt have an attitude, is interesting and interested. He was so brave when he got a jellyfish wrapped around his leg and hand. These little buggers will leave a welt like a nettle or wasp x10 they are nasty! He completely took it on the chin and impressed us all. He went back in the water the next day and got stung again and again. He kept going back in though, dedication! He also started doing yoga – what an awesome lad!

Whilst at CDS I took the role of nurse – due to my first aid training and kick ass kit (thanks sophie) I cant tell you how many cuts i saw too or butterfly stitches I attached to various bits of falling off skin. No-one got infections. yay!

Hanks Hula School – have been teaching various wonderful boys and girls the gentle art of hoooping, the most amazing girl was about 5 years old and just picked the darn thing up immediately – you know the phrase this person is a natural , its totally overused in my opinion… well she really was! what was a little worrying was the hand movements that went with it, far too old for her age.  She picked up the tricks so fast, everything I showed her she just did it. Denise did as well she is an awesome surfer girl and so friendly too. another face i will miss.

I would say I have the spanish of an educated 8 year old now.

Favorite other quote: Everything can be explained by science or magic!

Lessons: Embrace the mischief and the power of and.

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Part 2 – the highlights strike back!

SO so so….where was I…..oh yes…Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin 🙂
Since B’s Birthday – I have had a few nights out with the wonderful Laurita – there were two awesome laura’s – lady S left for argentina and has left a massive gap. I have absolute admiration for people who have her social skills – argentina is very lucky to have her arrive 🙂 The laurita of gold is one of the ‘It’ girls of Montanita, along with Lesley – think paris and nicole but with looks and personality. We have had some incredible nights out, I have spoken to more people on those evenings than ever before. Amazing what a little achohol does for my spanish 🙂
Ive been on some more missions with Jason and Kelly and Sunny to Cascada de Alex. Ive pinched all of these pictures from Sunny – thanks miss. It was a beautiful day. You have to 4×4 through rivers to get to the waterfalls. Swimming in the pools below is one of my favourite things in the world ever.
Carnivale is coming up – I have been warned that is is worse than Reef, but because the focus is in the town rather than the point, we should be able to have some respite from the noise. Carnivale is based on play – playing being with water pistols, eggs and flour. We have already seen the tienda kids amazing homemade plunger pistol being used to full effect on Cachai ( the ecuadorian surf team coach)  Its safe to go into town during the day but if you are a gringo its safer to avoid town at night.

I went for my first run today, well interval training Nicktor Style, headphones on jogged then walked repeat until town. When i reached town i turned around and sprinted then jogged, sprinted then jogged back to the hostel. who says you cant be a dedicated smoker and a runner. Stretched out like a good girl – am feeling wonderful – really happy. Have I told you about Nia? Its the class that I do 3 times a week – excuse the duplication if I have told you.. Its a mixture of Yoga, Dance and Martial Arts and its INCREDIBLE.  In England the only place you can do it is London so london folk – look it up… Its about the joy of movement. Its incredibly high cardio and very good for bending and strengthening. Its a wonderful cross between the sublime and the ridiculous. Its such a force for good.
Little jems:
The path of death – there is a path from the bar to the road which is paved in crazy paving. There is dark magic involved here. The path requires nay demands blood sacrifice. Look at anyones feet and you will see evidence that the vampiric urges of the path have not been surpressed.
Pet Lizard – I have aquired a pet lizard – Im currently thinking of name for the little critter who lives under my bed. Thin perhaps? Suggestions on the back of a postcard – oh wait montanita has no postal service 🙂 tee hee!
Pitts pots – the return – made 18 more of the chocolatey peanuty goodnutty goodness, they are divine.
Sands of time -The beach is being wierd and changing alot. Where normally there is just sand, there are now rockpools!
Also Sand related – walking down the beach tonight. Every footstep taken left traces of glowing phosphorus, its a type of algae. It looked like universes in the sand. I had Michael Jackson – Billie jean in my head – Heeeee heee. Nicole has swum in glowing turkish waters and B has seen this in Thailand. It was my first time with a luminescent floor. absolutely beautiful. I wish there was a dance floor like it. I also wonder if you rolled on the sand would your body pick it up? would you leave trails of sparkly hugs?
Soundtrack – My hooping playlist, metal,  pop punk, ska, girlie pop and electronica + some golden oldies Janis joplin, jimi,
I should really have a book list here too – I am currently reading Zero History by William Gibson, its bloody good but product placement in books seriously!! may as well have been sponsored by apple. Thinking about it this is probably the point…. Doh…will update once I have finished it….
 I have been ripping through some series of books and certain authors. I have a serious love of all things vampire. you may have picked up on this from the book list…
So that brings us up to the present day.. Hope you are all well and happy and enjoying the lengthening days. I will report again after carnivale – *salutes*

Oh and I wore pink!

Highlights from the the last er month and a half (part one)

OK so this one is a brief (!)highlights from the last  few weeks:

I am warm, happy, tanned and losing weight. I am solar powered in an equatorial country so imagine paradise thats where I am…. Its been so hot at times that even I have to take to the shade. I know, right!

Working the bar/reception – As you know every Thursday I work reception and I work the bar when needed. I know I said I wouldnt work here but my goodness it is beautiful and doesnt really feel like actual work. I like the insight it gives me, the spanish practice and the introductions to the guests.

 At the Reef Classic Surf Competition – I was a Conquer girl. I was technical director for all the modified T-shirts for the girls. tee hee 🙂 I LOVE barwork. As you know manners are very important to me, some of our customers wouldnt even speak to us just pointed and held fingers up for how many they wanted – well as you can imagine we weren’t going to stand for that so we made a rule No please, no beer.  they soon caught on, It was so funny. seeing all these city boys coming sheepishly up with cup in hand cervesa por favour. 900 beers sold in 4 hours, incredibly busy day. Made my first silly mistake in spanish – whilst serving a hotboy – i thought i told him his beer was cold but no I told him he was ugly! hahahhahaha oops frea and feo

I love the family feeling here at Casa Del Sol, some evenings when the guests are not too high maintenance, we take it in turns to cook for each other, guest list of 10-12 people.  Everybody has their specialities. Its a dysfunctional family but arent the best of them? 🙂 Kelly and Jason are the managers here and we try to go and do stuff together on their days off. Sometimes its just recover from a night out with red wine and coca cola, other days we have been touring the north coast  -Cue surfing and swimming and general high jinx..

Hooping in town – hero and villains – So as you know I have been making inroads to talk to the street performers. On saturday night I went to meet them and have chats with the hooping girls. what a mistake! They were typical montanita boys all touchy feely and just not into conversation or friendship. boo – so ive gone back to solo sunset hooping. (update:) I have just met the most lovely livia, she is an incredible hoop dancer, she makes the practice look so graceful. I have learned alot from her and we fixed her LED  hoop so a friend for life me thinks 🙂

The wonderful Sunny has returned – so happy –  bringing with her all the components needed for making my own hoops and as an incredible bonus and a surprise she brought LED lights and specially soldered batteries. We made 2 hoops  one red and one blue and yellow – the weight of the batteries makes certain tricks so much easier. I have mastered a bunch of new tricks and Sunny has taken a bunch of the most beautiful pictures. Oh and brought me a kettle, coffee and MARMITE – my life is complete.

B’s birthday – incredible day – my first ever dawn patrol – whic means stupidly early surfing with Jen, Jorge and B. The others are way better surfers than I am, whilst they are catching the green waves, I am splashing about in the white water, so instead of surfing and separating from thr pack I paddled out past the breakers and hung out on my board chatting – i am told that a big part of surfing is waiting for the waves – well I have that skillset 🙂 chilling in the water – trying not to look like big fish bait :-)The day was full of sunbathing, lunch and a killer night out.

Little Jems: Oswaldo the baracuda boy – oswaldo is an astonishingly good long boarder, he was surfing one day and caught with his bare hands a barracuda, he came running out of the sea, killed it for his supper and then ran straight back into the sea for more surfing.. amazing!

Giggle Juice – TJ is one of the owners of Casa Del Sol and can turn his hand to anything, even his first hooping was good. No flailing 🙂 giggle juice is fermented fruit juice and it really is wonderful. Its a kick ass drink cross between a liquor and wine, leads to much silliness.

Pitts Pots – think home made reece’s peanut butter cups -ecuadorian dark chocolate with crunchy peanut butter – nyomnyom.

Pizza tea  🙂 – its a medicinal tummy tea and it tastes like pizza – what more needs to be said – WIN.

Testoster-haze – this is what settles over the point when the waves are good and full of people. This is the invisible force that made the reef classic almost impossible to bare (well that and the godawful music playing for 12 hours a day) makes ordinary boys strut like roosters and warm up routines triple in lenght and complexity. Its so funy to see.

Carlene and Brabbs – amazing girls from Saaaaaaff Lahhndaaan 🙂 these two travel together and work in the glam job of TV. They were so much fun and had us in fits. It was so lovely to share a sense of humour. They lived by the phrase “Go big or go home” one that resonates particularly with B and I.

Tally of photoghraphs taken by randoms with me – 17- I think its cos im the only chica rocking a mo’.

There has been alot of hammock time and I have read 40 or so books. Met some fab people, drank lots of rum, people watching, salsa and sunsets.

lessons learned: Sometimes you can’t always accept what people say at face value. Dance whenever you feel the beat in your feet. Dont walk the beach at night on the weekends.  Early nights do not mean you are missing out on anything. Siestas are amazing.

Soundtrack: Stanton Warriors, human traffic soundtrack, matrix soundtrack, Sublime, Cat Empire, Hed(pe), DJ shadow, Dropkick Murphy’s, prodigy.

anyway thats quite enough for this one

Smiles for miles

It has been a while since i last wrote, I could spend a paragraph each blog entry apologising  about the length of time it is between entries but im not going to – i vill say this only vonce – please excuse the length of time between blog things ( with dracula cape etal) bwahahahahahahah

So dear lily has left. It happened a while ago.It was so lovely to meet her and get to know her again, she is one of the warmest, most self sufficient girls I know.

She got Caña Grill dancing.

Lil and dylanThe day Lily left, I  started my spanish lessons – I do two hours a day with the wonderful Gabby. It’s agreat set up,  we have a chat about our days and evenings and when the conversation runs out we swap to verbs and tenses and more conversation spawns from that and before you know it two hours of chatter and learning has gone by. At first it absolutely knackered me out, like true brain exhaustion but pretty soon its become the structure to my day. I have asked that next week it can be changed to the morning. I have since done a complete U turn and have requested lessons twice a week so Mondays and Fridays from 1-3 I have lessons the rest of my week is freestyle.

 I, weirdly, find that when im drinking it’s so much easier to access the other languages. Something to do with being relaxed.

I love the fact that the Ecuadorians have no issue laughing in your face. In the UK we might have a secret smile or  stay politely unsmiling at someone messing things up and then go away and laugh about it, usually with friends.  not like that here 🙂

This last week has been an incredibly sociable one, I’ve met some amazing people-  Sunny and the big sur surfers and the Santa Cruz/Sacremento boys brigade. The Big Sur Surfers – Sunny, Flex and Marcus (the eunuch hahahah) along with Jason, Ryland and Bill.  Such a welcoming bunch. Generous to a fault and so much fun. I spent a few fabulous days with Sunny – such cracking company and you know my appreciation for sparkling eyes and a smirk. They would always bring back amazing goodies from the killer bakery at La Entrada. Some of the constants with this lovely group were Sunny with a half smile with camera in hand,  Flex and his ever present kindle, sociable man markus winning awards for faffing about.

TJ & Nates birthday – puns and partying – the next big sociable event was TJ’s birthday. TJ and Whitney are the soul of this place. You will never meet a more wonderful couple. They are so lovely to each other.  TJ is a massive metal head and has a passion for permaculture/eco-sustainability. His always celebrates with his birthday with his best friend Nate. Whitney is fab – she teaches all the yoga and Nia classes and is so kind, beautiful and bendy.  

In my family we make each other cards, usually containing bad puns. B and I made TJ cards with the puns – two mushrooms are t and talking to each – I hear it’s that guy TJ’s birthday, i hear he is a sage…. yeah the other says and a real fun-ghi 🙂 and Have a triffid birthday from B ( apparently the john wyndham book is an english phenomenon). yes the worse the pun the better in our books er cards. Beth had organised cards from everyone at the hotel to the boys and we bought them bottles of booze. TJ had scratched his eye so I made him an eyepatch too – wished I had, had a stuffed parrot 🙂

So anyway that day Sunny had enough of the fellas she was surfing with, she had been heroic in organisational and cat herding efforts, but enough is enough,laughing in the face of their lack hygiene,  early that morning we took off in her truck and explored the coast north of Montanita. – i think its north anyway. it felt northerly but as you know, I have zero sense of direction. We started off going up this mental little track to a graveyard at the top of the hill over looking montanita. I have a major passion for high up places and to be able to see the little surf town from above was beautiful. The day itself was scorchingly hot. The change in landscape is pretty dramatic from what can only be described as scrub to full blown – cant get 5 foot into it without a machete –  jungle. It is  The next stop was Ayampe a beautiful long beach – well basically the whole coast is a series of beautiful long bays, it’s a great place for surfing if montanita is lame then to Las Tunas a beautiful long beach in a small fishing village.  stunning beach, a stunning rock formation out to sea, it looks close enough that you could paddle out there. You could if you had arms like hulk and could defeat the crazy currents – so yep –  and no I didn’t try. the strange thing about las Tunas is that its has a decorative beachfront that looks like brighton – all pastel blue  and white bannisters.

After Las Tunas we went to Rio Chico – Completely stunning place with an architectural find of babies in pots. I have taken pictures of the sign and will one day translate it as to why this happened. After crossing the rickety rope bridges and climbing up a few sets of stair cases ( eldonia training!) there is a wicked viewing area over looking the bays. There is a mud bath there – looked like green tinged yuck to me, the showers were in the shape of men and well you can see from the pics where the water came out from! Rico Nada was up next. Rico nada is the tiniest little fishing village, it is untouched by tourism – only a very steep dirt track leads to it – i think this is the only time 4×4’s are a valid form of transportation (when you need them, not taking one child to school a total distance of 1.5miles, yes you chelsea tank drivers!) We saw a million hermit crabs and a barracuda skull. We hung out at Olon at the other side of the point for a while whilst contemplating going back to join the party. We did – gave TJ and Nate their presents. It was fun. cue music and booze.

this brings me up to two weeks ago. dayyyum next one will be a highlights post so I dont have a blog cloud over my head.

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