I woke up cold in a wet tent. I ejected myself out the side door and into a red and pink world, the sunrise silently working its magic. My tent is so low that I have to remain almost horizontal whilst getting out and that morning I exited into a plank position, before doing squats and leaping about trying to get warm.
I’m not overly prone to exercise and this was an emergency measure routine in lieu of the marvellous invention called DUVET but it was a surprisingly fun way to start the day.
After two days without making a fire, I was pleased to be able to make porridge and took my time eating, enjoying the surroundings and the early morning light show.
It was such a good night’s sleep and I woke feeling immensely grateful for the shelter. It’s a nice way to start the day, a vibrational ‘thank you’ coursing through your body, cells humming with life, chest warm, open and at ease.
I unzipped the tent to greet the valley. The sun wasn’t up yet but I didn’t want to overstay my welcome.
Once I was packed up and ready to ride out of there I couldn’t resist unrolling the yoga mat for a short practice in this beautiful setting.
I rode into town then decided to go for a walk, locking up the bike and heading into the hills, loving the freedom not to plan, just letting the day unfold. By the time I arrived back in town the roadside café was open and I got my coffee/electricity/wifi fix plus another Majerero Spanish lesson.
I woke early, getting packed up and picking up some rubbish from the surrounding land. It was a small gesture of thanks and I hoped the farmer would continue his amicable attitude towards strangers pitching tents on his land.
I was just about to leave when the sun rose above the volcanoes and the first light hit the mountain, painting a warm orange streak across its face. I felt grateful to be there to experience it, seeing it under starlight and at first light – a lot more magical than a gutted mountain.
I rode away on the dirt track, picking my way through the bigger stones, eventually rejoining the tarmac road and beginning the long descent to Tefia.
I didn’t cycle for five minutes or so. I just flew downhill, mind temporarily silent as it enjoyed the freefall. I had barely even experienced cycling before this trip. Of course I had been on a bike many times, but I can remember very few occasions of flying down a big downhill. This first one was a mind-stopper as my heart soared. [continue reading…]
I had an interlude for a couple of days. I had to return to Corralejo because my gears weren’t working properly and this was the closest bike shop. Even though Corralejo was three days of experience away for me, it was in reality just up the road.
I was momentarily disappointed to be back at the beginning but actually it was a good opportunity to get rid of some things that I didn’t need and take some that I did.
I set off again on a different route this time, through the volcanoes from Corralejo to Lajares.
It took me a while to find the route out of Corralejo. After a few false starts I found a track and a guy working on the road beside it. I double checked that it was the route to Lajares.
“Si pero sube” (yes but it goes up)
“No pasa nada, no tengo prisa” (no worries, I’m not in a rush)
“Asi es, pasito” (that’s the way, little steps)
I woke in an excellent mood, mainly because the tent was completely dry so I didn’t wake with wet plastic stuck to my head. If only I was this easily pleased in everyday life.
I leapt over the dune and ran down to the shore for an early-morning swim. It was bloody cold so it was a quick swim and I was very awake afterwards.
With no tent to dry I got going early and rode to the habour to do some clothes washing. I hung my stuff on the bike to dry and headed off like a mobile laundry, setting sail down the west coast.
I kept waking in the night, feeling like I’d had a massive sleep and it surely must be morning. My eagerness to have survived the night was no doubt playing its part in warping time and making two hours feel like eight.
In the pre-dawn I woke to a damp tent. Fat beads of condensation were threatening to create a rain shower if I accidentally touched the sides. I was cold in my flimsy sleeping bag. [continue reading…]
To pedal out of town with your home on wheels is a particularly pleasurable blend of freedom, adventure and rebellion.
It didn’t matter that I was setting forth on a small bike trip around the touristy island of Fuerteventura. For me, I was heading into the unknown.
I was equipped with basic cooking supplies, a modest tent and a semi-permanent grin.
My very first email address was spacecowgirl. I wasn’t a big Jamiroquai fan so I think my reason for picking the name was actually more to do with liking the idea of being a cowgirl, in space, because I was 12 and, why the hell not?
History backs this up because I did go on to be a cowgirl, spending three months in outback Australia when I was 18. It was hard and dirty work but I was living my dream and I loved it. I was working with horses, in space.
I love the random ways that people can enter our lives.
Matthew Sanford’s name first reached my ears as I cooked dinner in a pop-up kitchen in Kathmandu. I’d found an American podcast channel on the enthusiastic recommendation of a Kiwi friend. The first episode I listened to was an interview with Matthew.
I couldn’t really hear properly because of the bubbling and hissing of pans so I went to sit on a cushion on the floor, resting my tired head on the low table as I listened to a perspective that eventually had me sitting up, eyes wide and a silent yes of recognition resounding through me.
Below is a very short piece (150 words) I wrote that won first prize in a Sunday Telegraph travel writing competition <happy dance>.
Although it was a small competition it was still pretty exciting to win. So exciting I will treat myself to an exclamation mark (!)
The prize was a Dial a Flight voucher. I spoke to a lovely Dial a Flight man called Marco on Monday and he said I could spend the money on pretty much anything I wanted. This was a relief. I had thought it might only be valid for car hire in New Zealand or an Orlando theme park pass or something ultra-specific and not on my radar but something I doubtless would have tried to shoe-horn in regardless.
He asked if I’d had any thoughts about where I might go.
Yes. All the time. With wonderlust pumping through my veins it is rather hard not to, competition or no competition. But currently Indonesia, Myanmar and, as always, India, are calling.
One flight, taxi, bus and a ricocheting rickshaw later I found myself travel weary and on a swaying footbridge over the Ganges. I was not alone. A swirl of saris, spiritual seekers and opportunistic entrepreneurs were coursing around me, as the river flowed below and monkeys pickpocketed from above. The crossing only took five minutes but those five minutes expanded as my senses filled with new impressions of wide-eyed wonder and head-shaking bamboozlement. Ahhh Rishikesh. ‘Land of the wise’. And land of everything else too if this bridge was anything to go by. Beeping motorcycles and impassive cows joined the pedestrians, unperturbed by the intentions of engineers. In this holy city the journey across the Ganges is a commute for some, a pilgrimage for many. The mysterious and the mundane rub shoulders, or collide head on, and even the travel weary are jolted awake to the adventure that is India.