Cat Easterbrook

Day 7: I saw you on the road

Cycling & wild camping Fuerteventura

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.
img_8018 [continue reading…]

Day 5: A night in a ruined convent

Cycling & wild camping Fuerteventura

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…]

Day 4: the magical mountain and the kind farmer

Cycling & wild camping Fuerteventura

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)
[continue reading…]

Day 3: Is this the way to Tibet… I mean, Tindaya?

Cycling & wild camping Fuerteventura

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.

surf-cotillo-beach [continue reading…]

Day 2: Windmill, flip-flops & freedom

Cycling & wild camping Fuerteventura

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…]

Day 1: Am I really getting away with this?

Cycling & wild camping Fuerteventura

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.


[continue reading…]

The adventure of India: The Sunday Telegraph travel writing competition

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.

Back to school with the Dalai Lama


…we’re off to see the Dalai Lama, the wonderful Dalai Lama of Tibet

Our Dalai Lama experience started with waiting in a queue for three hours. Because of the policy of letting Tibetans and monks go first, the queue grew in the middle and not the end and we ended up being further and further away from the front. After an hour of waiting it seemed that we had longer to wait than when we arrived.

Luckily we discovered that there was a special office for queue-weary foreigners and we found our way into the inner sanctum of His Holiness’ Security and Passport office. That makes it sound secretive and luxurious but it was neither of those things. The room was full of dusty files and little else. Foreigners were baying at the stereotypically inefficient officials behind the desk, thrusting their passports forward, hoping to get seen next. Even the queue-loving English had become incapable of queuing by this stage.

A framed photo of the Dalai Lama with the advice to ‘Never Give Up’ was hanging on the wall. I suspect he probably didn’t have our plight in his office in mind but of course we had no intention of giving up. Studying Buddhism, learning about Tibet, interacting with Tibetan refugees and learning about the Dalai Lama’s work had made my interest in and respect for him even stronger. Besides, having been in Buddhist parts of India for a couple of months that smiling man’s face had been a constant companion, in every cafe, guesthouse, restaurant and office, and everyone seems to have a Dalai Lama story to tell.

[continue reading…]

Getting sane at Tushita Buddhist Meditation Centre


Meditation cushion carnage

Meditation cushion carnage, about as tidy as our minds

Walking along the path to Tushita Meditation Centre, I walked past the ‘silence please’ sign feeling the usual first-day-at-school nerves. This wasn’t my first silent retreat but you never quite know what to expect when entering the murky depths of your own mind. A touch of trepidation is probably wise.

An introductory course had started the day before and a girl with a desperate look in her eyes sidled up to me. Her eyes scanned the courtyard furtively whilst she whispered to ask if she could use my phone to message her mum. She’d forgotten to tell her she’d be out of contact for ten days.

Moments later I was joined on a bench overlooking the beautiful pine forest by a good-looking guy with a cheeky grin. He sat unusually close and reached into his bag for pen and paper. He scrawled the words ‘do you have toilet paper?’ and raised his eyebrows in hope.

[continue reading…]