The Tao of Pooh

Friday 03 February

Today I finished reading a book very kindly lent to me by a friend in San Juan Del Sur, at one of the lower points on my trip.  I suggest you read it.  It’s called The Tao of Pooh and it’s perfectly suited to all those people out there like me who think far too much.  I think, therefore I am confused.  It has done wonders to help me at least attempt to deal with the trials and tribulations that life has recently…if not always…thrown at me.  Taking a few steps back and counting to ten will serve me well; at least before I have steam pouring out of my ears, a beetroot face and a rocket up my backside.

So.  Calm and peaceful.  All is nice in the world.  Ahhhh.  Tranquillo amigos.  Whoosah.  Whoooosah.

I’m still in the god forsaken San Blas Islands and I want to be in Colombia.  I wish this week would hurry up and end.  I don’t want to see water for a very long time.

Sometimes it slips.  Nobody’s perfect.  Fuck you Pooh.  Fuu-uuuuck yooouu…

Read More

Kuna matata

Thursday 02 February

In an attempt to get up this morning I realise we are on the move again, relocating to another section of the San Blas Islands.  It looks the same as the first.  Two hours of jolting and jostling and we’re there.  It’s lucky I’m already lying down for the most part, otherwise I’d expect the situation to be similar to our first day at sea.  I don’t think I have anything left to give.

At some point, the other half of the Aussie contingent, Bree, has unfortunately managed to break a rib.  Apparently in stepping back aboard, she has slipped and smashed into the side of the boat.  This puts my complaining to shame.  As much as my shattered laptop, sniveling nose and sun burnt calf clings to some serious air time, Bree clearly upts the ante.  I do my best to keep the whining to a minimal and acceptable level.

I surprise myself today by actually making it onto one of the islands.  It’s a pleasant enough stroll, made even more so as the sun isn’t baking down, and has decided to hide itself behind some clouds.  This of course doesn’t make for the picture perfect postcard shot, but I’m grateful my leg isn’t on fire.  The cool sea breeze does wonders for the melancholy.

The islands are home to the native Kuna’s; a tribe of Indians indigenous to Panama and Colombia.  They live a very simple life, and we remark at one young boy wearing a Batman T-shirt.  We’re warned not to touch any coconuts, as they hold them as sacred, and pictures are not allowed without permission, as they see it as ‘stealing their souls.’  Their dwellings are simple but effective, and they are perfectly at peace with their lot.  I find it hard to imagine a world without computers, televisions and Ipods, but if that is all you’ve ever known, then that’s all you could ever wish for.  If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor…

The girls purchase ankle bracelet’s from the friendly islanders, friendly to the point that they still want the dollars.  It’s a nice exchange though, and I shoot some photo’s from the hip.  I feel a little ashamed that I’ve sneakily taken their souls, but they’ll be alright.  What they don’t know surely can’t hurt them?

We scoot over the water back to base for some much needed food.  Once again either the sea air, motion sickness or general tiredness gets the better of me and I spend little time socialising.  I feel I’ve done myself an injustice to my companions, and have not been in one of my better moods, but such is life and I’m sure things will improve.  I long for dry land, and that is now only a couple of tantalising days away.

Read More

Yo! Ho! Ho! And a bottle of rum!

Wednesday 01 February

I’ve always been fascinated by the seaside in winter. I relish in the loneliness of it, the chilly damp, the memory of a happy summer.  I love seeing the boarded up stalls and empty band stands.  The ballrooms echoing mirth and cheer.  The wet sands devoid of donkeys.  Cold grey skies and wind whipped cliff tops, shrouded in mystery and home to a closed lighthouse. Of hearty soup and fisherman’s tales by a fire.  The promise of something that once was, but seems destined never to return again.  The urban decay of an off season coastal town.  Whitby in February.  Life somehow goes on, without the ice cream.

I emerge late from my cabin.  I can’t walk on my leg as it’s burnt to a crisp, and I’m feeling like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards.  However, one half of the Aussie contingent, Maddie, is having a birthday today, so I do my best to drag my spirit out of the gutter, don some pirate gear and drink a ton of rum.

The San Blas islands themselves are beautiful, if you like that kind of thing.  I was planning on trying to get rid of this horrible T-shirt sun tan, but with my right leg in the condition that it is, I opt to stay indoors.  Truth be told, I’m feeling a little sorry for myself, and I wish I had taken the flight.  If you’re not into sailing, sun, beaches and water in general, this isn’t the trip for you.  I’m not really into any of that.  I’m beginning to wonder why I did it in the first place.

Still, I have to roll with the punches and try to remain positive.  There are certainly worse places I could be, and everything can be chalked up to experience.  I’m discovering more and more that these hot places with sand are definitely not where I want to hang my hat.  Now if only I could find someone like minded? Since leaving home, I appear to be the only person in the world that doesn’t relish beaches.  Perhaps I should return to the comforting grey gloom of Escotia…?

Still feeling rough, sea sick and tired, it’s not long before I’m back in that little box and fast asleep.

Read More

Setting sail

Tuesday 31 January

After my girlfriend dumps me by phone, my parents pass away and I put my dog down, I reckon that today is a very strong contender for one of the most horrible experiences of my life.  Actually I’ll put it a close fifth behind wetting my pants at a friends birthday party when I was nine.  Apparently he still has the picture, which he has thankfully been unable to find.

I’m throwing my toys out of the pram and spitting the dummy.  I’ve not closed my eyes and I’m feeling less than my usual happy-go-lucky, positive, full-of-beans self.  If you believe that you’ll believe anything.  However with the dark dawn comes a new day filled with possibilities, and at last I am making my way to Colombia.  The Promised land.  What, dear readers, could possibly go wrong?

The taxi arrives on cue and it appears that for all of my lack of sleep, I seem to be one of the few operating on any useful capacity.  Most of the girls are hungover, or tired from the various assortment of frivolities of last night.  I heave most of the bags down to the waiting vehicles in the dark, and try to remain upbeat as if nothing has happened and nothing can phase me.  I throw a few dollars on the counter to cover my stay and a beer I had around 3am, and we pile into our rides to the dock.

It’s a silent journey and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one awake.  Apart from the driver.  Which would be useful.  It takes longer than expected, but soon enough we’re pulling into the quay side, depositing bags under a palm tree and waiting for the launch to take us to our new home.  It doesn’t arrive on time.  I crack the usual gag about how these situations would make a wonderful start to a horror movie.  I’m told to pack it in and be positive.  I don’t think my companions are on the same wavelength.  This could be a long five days.

Carson decides to wander off and find the right boat, which in all credit to him he does, jetting in from the other side of the bay like a German James Bond.  We are soon boarding the Maluko, a six berth sail boat that will whisk us to the Colombian coast.  It’s a beautiful vessel, and it’s captain and his partner, John and Irene, are both very accommodating and lovely people.  They hail from Venezuela, and have a wealth of experience in these waters.  With a bit of luck I won’t be writing any shipwreck blog posts in the next few days, growing a massive beard, screaming “I have made fire” while talking to a ball called Wilson.

The smiles are broad and the spirits upbeat as we set sail for the open water.  It doesn’t last long.  Now I thought I had my sea legs.  That said the longest I was “at sea” was a ferry from Dover to Calais.  Still, I survived the “vomit comet” to Utila, so I figured I was pretty sorted.  Being the proud Brit I am, I reckoned the fact that I was from an Island with a staunch history of sea conquest made it my god given right to sea legs.  Nelson had them, surely I’ll have them as well.  Within a matter of minutes I was proved very wrong indeed.

I try to lie down as the nausea kicks in.  Unfortunately John needs to access the hatch I’ve collapsed on, and as soon as he moves me, I empty my stomach into a bucket attached to a string.  The only good thing about this was we’d just eaten some lovely fresh fruit, so it was the sweetest puke that I ever did eject.  The waves are enormous, apparently the worst our hosts have seen, and this does not bode well.  I wish I had the capacity to take some pictures, but I simply couldn’t move.  Added to this, I was still on one hours sleep, so all I wanted was to lie down and close my eyes.  Eventually I was heaving and retching with nothing coming up, the boat being tossed around like a tiny cork, and nowhere to put my head.  To say I was uncomfortable would be a gross understatement.

Yet it was to get worse.  With no end in sight, I manage to lie down on one of the benches at the aft of the boat.  Sleep comes and goes, as does a lot of nausea, and frequent attempts at vomiting.  Around the time I actually do manage to pass out, it starts to rain heavily and I’m totally soaked.  The clouds pass, I’m whipped dry by the wind, and then a wave ensures I remain damp for the next hour.  “Blanket?!”  I manage the strenght to stammer.  Eventually, shivering, I recognise a towel being draped over me.  And so it goes, dry, soaked, sick, hot, cold and, eventually, after twelve hours of this monotony, I discover I’m burnt.  Pretty badly.  In my embarrassing fetal position on deck, my left leg has taken the full force of the sun and is now red raw.

At some point during this nightmare, John taps me on the foot and points.  “Dolphins” he smiles.  I raise my head and stare over the swirling waters, just long enough to finally see that unmistakeable shape break the surface.  As much as I’ve always wanted to see one in the wild, it’s only a second before I’ve lowered my green face back down to attempt sleep.

It’s dark when we make it to calmer waters.  I then discover my laptop screen has somehow shattered.  I’m guessing this was from the excessive force used in throwing the bags on board by the launch boat crew.  As I start to recognise a fever setting in…fever mind, not man flu…I shakily take myself off below decks to crash out in my little box for the night.  I’ve been on one roller coaster in my life.  Twelve hours on one has not put me in the best of moods, and It is safe to say that the past couple of days have been pretty shit.  Except for the Dolphin.  That was the waters saving grace.

Read More

“I have of late…lost all my mirth”

Monday 30 January

I’m awake at 2.30am in Captain Jacks hostel, Portobelo.  Our boat leaves at 6am, but we need to be on our way at 4.  Having attempted to go to sleep just before 12, I was drummed awake by the party happening in the rest of the hostel.  Now this affords me an opportunity to really keep on top of my writing, and at the same time muse over the coming days ahead.  The main focus being the result of the car crash that is already happening, before we’ve even weighed anchor.

Initially I tried to promise myself that I would use the five or six days on the boat to detox and eat well.  At some point I desperately need to treat myself better, both for the sake of my physical health, and the head and heart.  Mostly heart.  Once again I have allowed two bottles of rum, a carton of cigarettes and a girl to get the better of me.

I wasn’t really in the party from the start.  Remember the alpha males?  There is a bar full of them, washed with booze and vying for the attention of pretty much everyone else. Loud, brash and boisterous, a word doesn’t go in anyways.  Still waters apparently run deep.  Unfortunately here it appears the rapids have more success.

And success they have.  With the girl I like.  Which is what wakes me up.  “Why the fuck are you in bed?”  he lears.  Because I have to be up at 4am to catch a boat to Colombia I presume?  After this rude awakening, returning to the land of nod is pretty much impossible, particularly as I have to listen to him canoodling with the object of my affections.  He’s actually on the other boat, and now I have six days on board with this girl and people who are clearly in a different frame of mind to me.  That awkward moment when…

The truth is dear reader, unless this situation improves, I’m giving serious consideration to leaving this part of the world.  I wouldn’t stretch to going home, but the thought has crossed my mind.  It would be a shame for the continuation of my bad fortune with the fairer sex to cut my adventures short.  Yet the fact of the matter remains; it is important to me, and here it’s just not working.  I witness everyone else getting what I want every day, and I’m left to punch keys in frustration at silly o’clock in the morning.

I confide in a friend about the potentially fruit full situation previous, a weeks sailing with four attractive girls.  He advises me to step back, have fun and DON’T do anything while on the boat.  Six day’s sailing and being aloof will apparently only serve to increase a girls interest.  The problem is that this ‘waiting game’ clearly doesn’t work.  It’s a dog eat dog world, and if you’re not fast, you’re last.  So when do you utilise such seemingly good advice?  I just can’t fathom it, and it’s forcing me to edge closer to a breakdown.

I always said I have two contradicting desires battling for my attentions.  One is to see the world, the other is to find a special girl.  The unstoppable force hitting the immovable object.  It’s a real struggle at the moment.  Some would say, and have said, that I shouldn’t be concerned with that yet, and just use this opportunity to concentrate on myself and travel.  I wish I could heed these wise words of wisdom, but it’s in my very make up to find her.  Everyone else my age seems to have done it, with aplomb.

When you hit a downward spiral, you start to question everything.  I don’t care what anyone says about plenty more fish, get back on the horse, etc, etc, but when you’re rejected once, you chalk it up and move on, when it happens again, and again, and again, it becomes a pattern.  My conversation is generally good, my banter and wit is pretty decent for most of the time, my social skills have always been apt, and I like to think I’m a pretty nice guy.  So what, excuse me, the fuck, is going wrong?

Is it purely down to aesthetics?  Am I that bad looking?  In a room by myself perhaps not.  Standing shoulder to shoulder with these guys then maybe.  Yet this week, the exceptions to the rule have been, well, ruling.  So it must be something else.

Incidentally the only other girl I was interested in is now pulling one
of the alphas in the dark somewhere in front of me.  This is probably
not a bad thing, since the Irish lass looks exactly like my ex.  That’s a
whole other story, and one that given the recent spate of events, truly
beggars belief.

“Where is the fun loving, relaxed, life of the party Stu I met in Leon?” A friend comments; with no shortage of exceptional observation.  I don’t know.  I honestly don’t know.  “I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth,” to quote The Dane.  I’d better find it again pretty soon, otherwise this could be a very short trip.

Read More

Missing the boat

Saturday 28 January

Considering I went to bed around 12 midday, it’s no surprise that I wake up at night.  I soon discover the Irish, Aussies and German have moved on, leaving me in my pit of despair.  We are due to sail tomorrow, but it looks like I’m going to literally miss the boat.  It’s a damn good job I find out the boat is would have been a disaster, I can leave tomorrow, and we don’t sail until the 31st.  Crime pays.

I don’t move from the hostel couch until 6.30 am, Sunday morning.  Chess Grandmaster status is surely not far off.

Read More
Website Apps