challenge: a to z of travel

I visited my luvverly friend Bron’s blog a few days ago, and found this (via Andrew Petcher) and I thought “Holy A to Z Batman, I’M gonna do that too!!!”.

So here it is! My A to Z of travel:

A: Age at which you went on your first trip abroad

I would have been about 11. My folks took me to the UK for a 6 week jaunt through the countryside. I remember one night when we were staying in a B & B (a converted barn near some woods – very quaint!) I couldn’t sleep because something was plaguing me; I got up, went to see my parents (who were enjoying a glass of red wine by the fire) and asked “Does Santa Claus really exist?”. They were a little drunk, and didn’t hold back on the truth… Sadface.

Something else I remember about this trip was having a glass of orange juice on the flight between Singapore and Heathrow and throwing up all over myself. There was a group of high school kids on the plane on an excursion and one of them made a tiny fluffy toy koala for me, to make me feel better. It really helped…

B: Best foreign beer you’ve had and where

ANY beer in Asia is the best. It actually doesn’t matter if it’s the worst beer ever, there’s something refreshing and thirst-quenching and delicious about an icy beer on a sticky, humid afternoon. It’s even more delicious if you’re on the beach, or in a hammock, or both.

C: Cuisine

The most memorable meal we had on our latest adventure was probably at Robinson’s in Croatia. The only way to get there is by boat (or 4 hour hike) and it’s on the most amazing rocky beach… There’s no electricity, so everything is cooked either on a BBQ or in a wood-fired oven (somehow they keep their beers and wines cold, which were equally delicious in the hot afternoon sun!); tables and chairs are set up under the trees overlooking the water. You order your food (freshly caught fish, crabs, prawns, mussels), order your drinks, go for a swim, then you’re called in when your lunch is ready. It was SO delicious and so flipping beautiful…

Our lovely friends Sarah & Ben, waiting for lunch

Some bobbing swimmers

Fish, squid, prawns: nom, nom, nom

D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite, and why

Iceland is definitely up there with the favourites – I’ve never been to the moon (does that surprise you?) but I kind of imagine it to be like Iceland. No trees, just rocks and moss and crazy bubbling pools of mud. The peeps are friendly and wacky and hilarious (and super styling too), and their sense of culture blew me away – I loved how knowledgeable everyone seems to be on their ancestry (so many Icelandians have VIKINGS as distant relatives!!).

Least favourite… Hmm…. Umm… I would say Caracas, and I would say that as a copout. We didn’t actually leave the airport, but had to spend a few hours there on our way to El Yaque. We had NO local money on us, there were no ATMs in the terminal and no money changers (though a LOT of people came up to us, whispering ‘Cambio? Cambio?’. We later discovered that Venezuela has two currencies – the official currency and the black market currency); I hadn’t eaten all day, was hangry and tired and on the verge of a major hissy. After trudging around the terminal we FINALLY found an ATM, got some cash, but when we went to get food, THERE WAS NOTHING VEGETARIAN!!! I settled on a packet of chips and a ginormous cup of lemonade and that tided me over.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”

We arrived in Oslo on a rainy, cold Sunday afternoon. After checking into our hotel, we went for a walk to get some lunch and our bearings. After a salad and a  coffee and a weird pastry near the central train station, we walked further up the hill, turned a corner, and were suddenly in front of a church surrounded by a sea of roses. I’ve never seen so many flowers; the ones closest to the church were brown and withered, while the ones nearest to the street were vivid shades of red, yellow, white. The bombing and shootings at a nearby island had taken place a few weeks prior; I’d had no idea we were staying so close to where the bomb had gone off. Seeing the flowers, the written messages to lost loved ones, the Norwegian flags, the open displays of grief, made my jaw drop. I had to spend a few moments alone after seeing this; it was an absolutely devastating sight.  F: Favourite mode of transportation

Riding a camel through the Saharan desert is pretty incredible. A bit bumpy and terrifying (you’ve definitely gotta trust your camel!!) but amazing when all you can see for miles is red sand and your camels shadow.

camelwalk

G: Greatest feeling while travelling

The greatest – and most terrifying – feeling I felt was not knowing what was around the corner. You get on a plane or a boat or a bus to somewhere you’ve never been (and often somewhere you know very little about) and when you get there, and you see the sights and smell the smells and hear the language and the voices and the laughter – even the cars honking – and it’s really exhilarating. And you’re kinda in the hands of the Gods most of the time as well – you get sick and you miss flights and you can’t find accommodation – and learning to let go of the need for organisation and heaps of planning and all the jazz, just going with the flow, is what makes you a traveller and not a tourist. Don’t you think?

H: Hottest place you’ve travelled to

Like Bron said, Melbourne gets pretty hot (it was 47 degrees a week before our wedding a few years ago); Morocco gets pretty boiling. New York summers are pretty revolteh hot too!

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and why

Definitely Abel and JC and all the porters on our Inca Trail adventure. Their gift of the gab, kindness, hilariousness, bag carryingness, cake bakingness (not to mention all the other incredible meals we had each day), and (gulp) the whole ‘carrying me down the hill’ thing was really above and beyond.

J: Journey that took the longest

Ha. Definitely the Inca Trail. That counts, right? 42 kms up and down, through sickness and health, hot days, cold nights, squat toilets, bruised toes and ALL THOSE STEPS it was definitely the most epic journey I have EVER been on!!!

K: Keepsake from your travels

Probably this blog. Awwww. And maybe this tattoo on my wrist, that I got on a trip to London when I was 23. I had just broken up with a boyfriend and was having my first ever overseas ALONE trip (I started in Japan, then had a few weeks in London, then had a week in Barcelona – with minimal skillz in Espanol); I decided I needed to document the trip (this was before the days of blogging), so popped into a tattoo parlour in Soho. I met an artist called Dingo, who flat out refused to tattoo my wrist. He held my wrist up to me, like I’d never seen it before, saying “No! I won’t do it! I won’t mark this lily-white skin…” (yes, he actually said that) “… what about your job? What are they gonna say if they see a tattoo on your wrist??? What if you want to go to the RACES???” (I’ve never been to the races in my entire life, and I don’t plan on going anytime soon). I finally wore him down, explaining that it would be inconspicuous, it wouldn’t be garish or bright or over the top, and he agreed. Before he started, he looked at me and said “Now listen darl, if you want to yell and scream and call me a motherf****r, that’s OK. You won’t be the first, and you won’t be the last”. He was a nice fella.

No need for name-calling

L: Let-down sight, where and why

The Amazon. BECAUSE WE DIDN’T GET THERE!!! Does that count?

M: Moment when you fell in love with travel

My first trip with Rich cemented how rad travelling is. My solo sojourn mentioned in K was great, but I struggled a bit on my own (more out of loneliness than any actual struggle). Travelling with Rich has always been easy and fun and having someone to share the sights and food and cocktails with, for me, is the bees knees.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in

Rich and I had a super lah-di-dah trip a few years ago to the Maldives. It is SUPER cray, yo. Over-water huts, white sand, clear water… you get the drill. We were picked up from the airport in Mali at around midnight, then got in a speedboat (that smelt like frangipanis) and were given refresher towels THAT WERE ACTUALLY TOWELS AND NOT BABY WIPES and bottles of water, and then we sped out into the black night. After about an hour of sailing the high seas at high speeds, the lights of the island came into sight. We were met at the jetty by a man in a golf buggy, who drove us to our hut (which was actually bigger than our house… and then some). There was a plate of antipasto on the table, along with a bottle of champagne and some flowers. Neither of us are hugely into champagne, but we guzzled that baby back, despite the fact that it was after 1am and we’d been flying for over 17 hours. After our champagne and antipasto feast, we took a moonlight swim in our own private SEA GARDEN under our hut which was amazing (but a little bit scary). During the day, puffer fish and baby sharks bobbed around in our sea garden (hence the whole ‘fear’ thang). The staff were divine, the food was amazing, and the digs… well…. I don’t think we’ll ever stay somewhere that fancy ever again, but it was so bloody amazing!!

Are you a postcard? NO! You're a photo from the Maldives!

O: Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking photos of when you travel

Dogs and cats. Hands down. I have hundreds of cat and dog photos. One dog, eight angles.

O hai cat!

Wass that?

Just chillin'

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where

I got a fancy e-passport just before we embarked on le world tour, but I still have a pretty nifty collection of stamps – from the start of my p-port to the back, we have: Indonesia, UK, Iceland, somewhere called Dobova, which I think is in Slovenia and I think we got this on the train, Norway, Singapore, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Croatia, Brazil, Turkey, Canada, Peru, MACHU PICCHU, the USA is in there somewhere too (but I can’t find it – yikes!).

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where

Blood Manor.

R: Recommended sight, event or experience

Hmmm…. The White Night Hike in Iceland is definitely a must (provided you’re there during summer). Strolling around in the daylight AT NIGHT is definitely rad, not to mention eating soup and cake and drinking wine in your bathers in a hot spring. Do it!

S: Splurge – something you have no problem forking out money for when travelling

I have no problems at all forking out cash for an experience you couldn’t have anywhere else; riding a camel and camping in the desert, learning how to make ceviche in Peru, going for a hike at midnight in broad daylight – spending money on things you couldn’t experience at home is important, I reckon.

Ceviche. I MADE THAT!

And. Food and beer. Not all the time. But I think you’ve gotta have at least one amazing meal in each place you visit, and you definitely need to try the local brew (or wine, or cocktail – whatever takes yo fanceh!!).

T: Touristy thing you’ve done

I feel like it’s kind of impossible NOT to do touristy things in New York. The city that never sleeps is the perfect place to take cheesy photos, eat ridiculous food and immerse yourself in BEING A TOURIST rather than a traveller. Hire a bike and ride around Central Park (and stop to watch some beat-boxers or break-dancers or a weird dance troupe who seem to rely on flexing their pecs and psyching out their minimal audience with intense stares and glares); go to Serendipity3 and try to finish an icecream sundae (you can’t); go to Rockefeller Plaza and pretend you’re Liz Lemon; eat a slice of pizza in Greenwich or a bagel from a street vendor; revel in the accents (“I think that baby lady done want her some SOO-SHI”, said a man handing out fliers for a Japanese restaurant in Times Square, when Eva went to take a pamphlet but decided against it…). NYC is the greatest place in the world to be touristy. Yay!

U: Unforgettable travel memory

We had a stupid amount of fun when we were on le world tour, and I’ll treasure every single second it (even the annoying times were unforgettable), but my absolute favourite travel memory is definitely my birthday in Slovenia. It made my love for Rich multiply by about 80,000 (which I didn’t even think was possible but IT DID!!!!).

V: Visas – how many and for where

Just one. For Brazil. And look where that got us.

X: eXcellent view and from where

When we climbed onto the roof of an art gallery (that had a tree growing through it) in Rio and looked out over the favella, my breath was well and truly taken. In a sea of mostly brown and grey square, squat dwellings, there were blocks of red, yellow, purple and green buildings; I’d liken it to a magic eye puzzle, but I feel like that lessens its awesomeness. I’d also liken it to a patchwork quilt, but I feel like that makes me sound like a derb with no skillz for adequate descriptions.

Y: Years spent travelling

32 (age now) minus 2 (age started) equals 30. From those long drives as a kid to visit family in Queensland to my first time riding a horse on the New South Wales Central Coast, to visiting Beatrix Potter’s house in England (clad in my knitted “people finger” gloves), to espying a tank of baby turtles at a market in Tokyo, to moving to Canada to further my career in the film industry, to moving home again because I was too in love with Rich, to the Maldives and Bali and the Philippines and Vietnam, to…. the world tour. Travelling is definitely in my blood. I’m happy to stay put though… for now.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where

I feel like Y & Z should really be reversed, because Y is kind of a nice point to finish on. And because the only sports fans I encountered were at a baseball game in Toronto, and… well… I was expecting WAY more out of control fandom and I just didn’t get it. Short of singing their teams song, hand on heart, balancing hotdogs and beers and giant tubs of popcorn on their knees, that was about as passionate as they seemed to get…

Do you wanna have a go? You should! Epic list, BUT FUN and a great way to remember past trips… Woot! Let me know in the comments if you do it on YOUR blog!

an interesting fact about armadillos

Did you know that armadillos are the only creatures, apart from humans, who suffer from leprosy?

It’s true. I learnt that on our farm walk in La Fortuna a few days ago, when we came across some armadillo shell in the grass.

“Did this guy have leprosy?” I asked our guide, pointing at the weird white-ish rubble.

“Nah,” our bearded guide shook his head, “This guy got eaten by something.”

Gulp!

On our first night in Monteverde, Rich and I hit the streets in search of dinner. On our way, we passed a small soda, with a lovely Husky-like pooch sitting outside. I held out my hand for him to sniff, he looked at me with weird crazy eyes (so I quickly changed my mind about patting him), but then suddenly he joined us on our stroll. He led the way, smelling bushes and barrels and the ground, turning around every once in a while to make sure we were following him.

He escorted us the whole way to our chosen restaurant, then disappeared into the rainy night.

Rich and I enjoyed our meal of Typical Costa Rican Food – no really, that’s how they tout it on their menus. If I was a chef in Costa Rica, I would blow my own trumpet more on the food, because it’s REALLY good, and anything but typical. I would call it ‘Delicious Costa Rican Food’ or ‘Healthy and Yummo Beans & Rice’. It’s like in Turkey, where they have a whole section of the menu dedicated to Olive Oil, which is, primarily, dishes (meat & veg) that are cooked and prepared in copious amounts of extra virgin.

Anyhoo.

After our ‘Healthy and Delicious and anything-but-typical’ dinner and beer and dessert, we were on the road back to our lodge.

There was a rustling in the bushes beside us and out popped… AN ARMADILLO!!! In the flesh/shell. I hope he didn’t have leprosy. He didn’t seem to, as no sheets of armour appeared to fall off him as he scurried across the road in front of us.

Then! There was a rustling behind us, and out popped… another dog! At first I thought she was on the scent of the armadillo but no, she just trotted along beside us, seemingly escorting us home. Man, these Costa Rican pooches are really friendly.

The three of us made our way up a steep hill, when suddenly a tremendous barking filled the air. I looked up, and out of a light-filled house by the road came four ginormous dogs, bounding out the front door, down the steps, barking like, well, barking dogs all the way.

You know those moments when you feel your excitable, ‘I-love-dogs-and-here-come-some-more-to-say-hi’ smiling facade quickly turn to a ‘O-my-goodness-I-think-these-barking-dogs-might-be-about-to-kill-us’ look of terror? I’ve only experienced it once in my life (actually, the first time I was at Piebird – I took a bike out for a ride one sunny afternoon and came across two incredibly large rottweilers standing on a rock by the side of the road… they growled menacingly and started to approach and I pedalled back to the farm as fast as the rickety bike would carry me). Life flashing before my eyes, I clutched onto Rich as the dogs leapt into the street, where they took one look at Ms Sniffy Pooch and chased her back to whence she came, woofing all the way.

I like to think that those five dogs were all really good friends and were keen to have a woofy, growly, catch up. Godspeed, Ms Sniffy Pooch, I hope you made it home safely…

DISCLAIMER: this pooch is actually from Croatia - he lived next door and spent most of his days chilling on our steps... I don't have a pic of the Costa Rican pooches we met the other night, or the armadillo... But a post about dogs is a good excuse for a picture of a dog, don't you think?

 

hot dog

Here’s a sight you don’t see every day…

 

A rather large Saint Bernard, just chillin’, chillin’, minding his bizniz, in the shady waters at Šipan. He was there when we got off our boat, and he was still there 45 minutes later when we got back on the boat to head back to Dubrovnik.

Stay cool, pooch!

earworms

It seems that with every stop we have along the road of our world tour, a song or phrase gets stuck in my brain and goes around and around until we leave. It’s frustrating. But also kinda funny to see what earworm will come next.

When we were in Oslo, I constantly had “The cat from Norway got stuck in the doorway” in my brain. Have you read that book? I loved it when I was a kid – “My cat likes to hide in boxes”. Full of great lines like “The cat from Greece joined the police” and “The cat from France likes to sing and dance”… Good times. I saw no cats in Norway, and definitely no cats in Norway stuck in doorways….

When we were in Sweden, every thought I had was with the voice of the Swedish chef from the Muppets. At times I was tempted to grow out my eyebrows and wave ladles and spoons about wildly, but there were no utensils at hand. And growing your eyebrows reeeeeally long takes time and effort… And ain’t the most flattering of looks.

When we were in Croatia (and this was the MOST annoying), every time we saw a cat, I would get the theme song from the Snappy Tom ad stuck in my brain. Only instead of ‘Australia’, the earworm sang “The cats of Dubrovnik have made their choice, Snappy Tom”. And the earworm had a thick Balkan accent…

Now that we’re in Turkey, there are THREE earworms on the loose:

In another Muppets reference, “Istanbul not Constantinople” has been doing the rounds (the one that’s sung by the rats – weirdly I can only find this Spanish version on You Tube, but it’s still the same song)

Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Homer goes on a business trip and Marge arrives and finds a turkey behind the bed? And he sings “O Margie, you came and you found me a Turkey…. On my vacation away from work-y”.

That’s been in my head A LOT.

Today we arrived in Cappadocia, and as soon as we saw the first sign into town, the earworm started to sing ‘California Love’ by Tupac only that stupid worm replaced the opening “California love” with “Cappidociaaaaahhhh”.

Be gone, earworm!!!!

Do YOU have any earworms you’d care to share? Like…. when you’re in your car at the traffic lights, do you ever break into J-Lo’s “Waiting at the Lights” “Waiting for Tonight”? Or sing MC Hammer’s “Pyjamatime” “Hammertime” when you’re getting into your pyjamas? Do tell!

the running of the donkeys

Returning to port after our drop in the ocean (and getting into trouble for not anchoring our boat properly), we arrived back into Jelsa to a carnival-type atmosphere. Stalls were set up along the water, and barbecues and umbrellas lined the street. People swarmed everywhere, munching on grilled prawn skewers, fried calamari and fairy floss. Small children clung to Spongebob helium-filled balloons. Other children screamed at the sudden loss of their helium turtles, dolphins and princesses, who now floated high above the town, on their way to a life suspended in space above the earth.

We were thirsty after our traumatic adventure on the seas. We made our way to the nearest bar with a table for four.

Making our way through the throngs of tourists and locals alike, we heard the sound of ringing bells. And suddenly, from out of nowhere, there appeared a herd of donkeys. Six or seven large grey donkeys, with sad, old man eyes, followed by three or four smaller donkeys, and, running up the rear, two tiny donkeys. So small and unsteady on their legs, it looked as though they’d just been born.

Kids surrounded the animals, hitting their rumps with small twigs. The donkeys looked nonchalant. They looked sad and hot and tired. And maybe they knew what was to come.

We certainly didn’t.

A table, big enough for four, was located and beers were ordered. A bowl of chips arrived, with tomato sauce and mayonnaise. We sat back, rehydrated. Relaxed.

Until. The same ringing bell started up again, this time more frenetic than when the donkeys were making their way through the town.

“Clang-a-lang-a-lang!!!” The bell dully shrieked.

I have never seen anything like what I saw in that moment. A grey donkey, being ridden by a 12 year old boy, charging down the street, with twelve other donkeys hot at his heels. The boy started to slip, I gasped, and the boy fell from the donkey onto the road and was then trampled by the animals’ hooves. I covered my mouth. Had it been a horse, it would have been curtains for this kid. But, given the donkey was running full speed at about 11km an hour, and given the donkey itself would have weighed around the same as the chubby kid riding it, both parties remained unscathed.

Phewf!

The other donkeys hurtled by, some ridden by kids under 10, slapping their rumps with their hands; others ridden by GROWN MEN whipping them with olive twigs. The behbeh donkeys ran startled alongside, not knowing what was going on.

Buddy, you're too big for the donkey

After the onslaught of donkeys had passed, I realised I had been holding my breath. The excitement of witnessing a donkey race was almost too much.

Minutes later, the winning donkey walked back past us, proudly displaying his ‘Winner’ blue sash.

The winning donkey

"No pictures til you clear it with his agent, lady!"

And then we heard it again.

“Clang-a-lang-a-lang!!!”

And off they ran, again. Same donkeys, different kids. And adults. I waited for the biggest donkey to rear up and whinny and throw its rider off its back and hurtle wildly through the town, upending tables and tearing through balloon stalls and turning over barbecues, but it didn’t happen. The donkeys continued to patiently trot through the town full of onlookers.

After five or six races, an announcement was sounded and the overall winning, best in show donkey paraded past the masses of people, the kid on his back beaming wildly.

We returned to our beers and chips, shaking our heads at the madness just witnessed.

deep blue sea

Have you ever jumped off a boat into the ocean, before you’ve considered how you’re going to get back in? There was a movie that came out a few years ago about a similar situation: young, hip peeps on a yacht, sailing the high seas, much drinking and debauchery going orn… A few jump in, but a young mum decides to stay on the boat with her behbeh. But then the larrikin of the film decides “Wouldn’t it be funny if I body slam her into the water?” and does it and then ALL the adults are in the water and ONE little behbeh is on the boat and then somebody realises that no one has put a ladder down and there’s no conceivable way to get back on board. It’s a pretty big yacht. It’s the sort you might go to a party on in Cannes. Or Cancun. You can’t throw your bikini top into the air hoping to use it as a rope to climb up the boats’ slippery sides (even though topless babes makes for great viewing in a Hollywood schlocker). You can’t get a boost from your mate. You can’t ask your screaming infant to lower a ladder. Pretty soon sharks start circling and they all die.

Sorry to give away the ending. I didn’t tell you what it was called though.

Fortunately things weren’t so dramatic on Saturday, but shiver me timbers, they could have been.

Rich and I arrived in Jelsa, Croatia on Thursday evening and met our friends Sarah and Ben at the dock for a beer. Our time here has been filled with a whole lotta nothing. Reading. Sleeping. Eating. Swimming. And that’s been about it.

On the weekend we decided we really oughta kick things up a notch and have an adventure. Jelsa is full of dinky little tourist centres hiring out bikes and kayaks and boats. Little boats. Not big scary yachts like the one in that movie. Just a little boat with an outboard motor and a shade cloth and some buoys attached to the sides. We thought we’d try our hand at boating to a secluded bay for an afternoon of swimming and reading.

After a quick lesson in how to drive a boat (how to start it, speed up, reverse, when to lower the gas, when to drop the anchor) and some very relaxed directions on which way to go, we were off. Sea breeze in our hair! Smell of petrol in our lungs! Splash of the ocean on our arms! It was bumpy and scary and fun!

We put-putted our way past several inlets with swimming Croats and anchored boats, but none of these sand-less bays were for us.

On we went.

As we neared the end of the peninsula (and the furthest point on the map provided) we said “What about here?” – no one else was around. We were close enough to the rocky shore for a quick pitstop if we needed a break from swimming and some sun. And it seemed like a nice spot.

We downed anchor.

Rich jumped in first, then me, then Sarah, then Ben. The water was juuuuuust right – refreshing, but not cold, and clear and YES – this was it! The adventure we’d been looking for!! We swam and laughed and splashed and frolicked.

It was the perfect setting for a Hollywood shark movie.

As I swam around the back of the boat, I was careful not to swim into the rope attached to the anchor. Yup, there’s the rope. And the water was so clear, I could follow it down and down and down and down and… holy hell, how deep is this water???? It was REALLY deep. Like, really, super, dooper, into the abyss deep. Suddenly I started thinking about what else was in the water. Like sharks. Are there sharks in the Adriatic? I don’t think there are, but in that moment, I convinced myself that we were surrounded and that a pack of sharks were plotting their attack. I’m pretty sure that sharks are generally fairly solitary creatures, but not in this nightmarish fantasy – no siree. These Croatian sharks hung out in packs of 10, 20, 100.

I swam back to the boat and clung to the side. For a moment I actually had Jaws-eye-vision of myself: a hungry shark below me, looking up, seeing the dark, triangular shape of our dinghy with two pasty legs silhouetted in the sunshine.

I shuddered.

“I think I’m going to get back on the boat now”, I called to the others, keeping my death-by-shark premonition to myself, “Yep, I’m just gonna climb on in. You guys just keep having a good time though”.

And with that, I grabbed onto a peg on the side of the boat and pulled myself up and… promptly splashed back into the water. Having no upper body strength whatsoever, and not being the most agile of dames, this was going to be much harder than I had initially thought.

“Hoooiiikkkkkkk” I groaned, trying once again to pull myself up.

Nothing.

Rich came over to give me a hand.

“Stand on my leg and push yourself up” he instructed.

But he had nothing underneath him to ground himself, so as soon as I put my weight against him, he sunk, I sunk, we were no closer to getting me aboard.

Ben volunteered to get back into the boat so that he could pull me in.

Ben is a whole lotta things I am not: a man, for one thing. A strong swimmer. Rowers shoulders. Wily and strong. And when I saw HIM struggle to get back on board, I started to worry… My hopes of being dragged aboard in a graceful fashion was fading.

Needless to say, I was not dragged aboard. Rich could not push me and Ben could not pull me and I worried that my arms would be ripped from their sockets and I splashed back into the water…

I started to panic.

Then, I saw a solution. The rocks. OF COURSE! I would swim over to the rocks, the boat would sidle up beside me, I would jump spritely aboard and be saved! Hurrah!!

The perfect plan.

I doggy-paddled my way to the smooth flat rocks in the distance. Heck, it looked so nice over there I might even sit on a rock for a while, while the others continued their swim!

The closer I got, my eyes focussed not on smooth, sun-bleached boulders, but jagged, craggy, mollusc covered shards of pointy hell. This was not going to be easy. But I was damn well going to do it. I could NOT leap into a boat from the water, but I could possibly get in while precariously balancing on a sharp-as-glass rock.

As Ben brought the boat in, I realised that this plan was not as fool-proof as I had hoped. The rocks were jagged, yes, and they weren’t just on the shore; they were UNDER the water as well (that’s surprising, isn’t it? That rocks can be all around?). When you combine a boat with lapping waves and a rocky shoreline, that’s usually not the greatest recipe for safety either.

The motor was cut, and the boat drifted closer. The rock I was currently perched on was not going to be close enough, so I slid back into the water, careful not to step on any anemones (that’s a funny combination of words), and hoisted myself onto a platform closer to the boat. With pain searing through the palms of my hands, my knees, my feet and my bum, I quickly scrambled aboard our trusty dinghy. Which was now stuck on aforementioned rocks.

Slowly and with expert precision, Rich and Ben eased us off using our emergency oars, and…. SUCCESS! We were off. Yet again. With frayed nerves and bleeding hands, we sailed into the sunset, ready to enjoy cocktails in the evening heat.