The lost treasure of keys – Tales of Travel gone wrong

As you know, I am currently traipsing around Costa Rica enjoying the pura vida and the sea turtles. Volunteering here has been an amazing experience, we really get to know the locals, brush up on our Spanish and embrace the culture of the area. Here the concerns are very ltitle as people just want to eat, beach and save turtles.

So a few days ago we were doing hatchery work, which you can read about here, and as I am knee deep into a hole of wet sand a lot of sand flies a lady approaches me. The tide was slowly but surely coming up and the sun setting perfectly in the background, decorating the skies with pink and orange hues, when this lady reveals that the buried her car keys in the sand and can no longer find them… I was baffled to say the least. Many questions sprung to my mind straight away. First of all who buries their car keys in the sand  for safe keeping? This beach only has around 10 punters a day and they only come out when they see the turtles being released. Secondly, if you’re going to bury something in the sand make sure you mark it so that you know where you put it.

So it turns out that as the tide started coming in the woman moved her chair first, which was the marker for the location of keys INSTEAD of the keys. Narurally, with sea water coming in an out at a rapid speed and dragging sand with it, she lost its location. She approached me and asked for some shovels we were using so we decided to be good samaritans and go help. We spent nearly 40 minutes digging hopelessly as the ocean dragged our feet, sand and potentially these disappeared keys to its depths. We did everything humanly possible to find them within the limited time and trying to trace the angle and original position of the chair through a selfie the lady had taken earlier on. The situation was awful but laughable. I honestly did not know whether to cry or laugh as the ocean continued to eat at the beach and the light was disappearing.

By the time we left the beach the whole family was still there, hopelessly searching but also celebrating in glee the hilarity and ridiculousness of the whole scenario. They now plunged into the water aimlessly continuimg their search if anything just to try their best to recover their treasure and head home.

I do not know if they ever found them. I don’t know how they even left the beach that evening, but they suffered, searched, thrived and laughed through it together, never stressing and taking it on their stride. I genuinely think they took it home as a great story to tell the kids.

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What a whale of a time! – Tales of Travel Gone Wrong

I LOVE food! I am a real worldly foodie and am a true believer that tasting the food of country I am visiting is key to immersing myself in the adventure. The culture that comes from food, the history that food possesses. It may seem like I am reading into it but I am not, I know that food and eating habits change historically and it is one certain way to explore the culture.

Now, this was a particularly tricky one for me. Norway is one of the only countries in the world who is still legally allowed to hunt whales. Whaling has been largely banned because of the decreasing number of whales on our oceans, this beautiful creature that is becoming extinct has to stop being sought after for its meat and oil. So bearing these things in mind and the fact that I give to the WWF every month to help protect and rehabilitate a lot of animals, this goes against all my gut instincts to eat whale steak.

How can I, a self admitted lover of animals (except spiders and scorpions, who likes those?!) actually eat a whale? It was a moment of travel exception. I am a true believer that if you are abroad you should fully integrate into the life and culture of that country. We were in the middle of a fish market and whales everywhere, we could not miss out on this opportunity.

Looking back on it now, I feel slightly itchy inside every time I think that I chewed a whale steak and devoured it. I don’t think it will ever happen again. Regardless, it was a fascinating experience and if you ever get the opportunity… try it without any guilt.

Tales of travel gone wrong – Maputo to Tofo

Going abroad and travelling the world is full of its challenges and quips. It is the most rewarding experience but it can also be the most infuriating, frustrating and the most memorable part of your trip. So let me paint a picture for you of a road trip that lasted 500 kilometres and nearly 14 hours.

We left Maputo at around 5 or 6 AM to get to Tofo which is located 500km north of the African Jewel’s capital city. We set off together, two full cars and two members of our touring group on a bus directly to the backpackers inn where we would be spending 5 days partying, eating and lying on the beach sipping cocktails that became as hot as coffee in 5 seconds. En route to an awesome time.

We were just about 230km into the drive, so close to the halfway point when we get a phone call from our companions on the tour bus:

‘Two of the tyres have gone and the bus has no spare tyres.’

This was the sentence from hell! First of all, what kind of bus departs for a 500 km journey WITHOUT any spare tyres what so ever!? Also, what dumb luck this driver had, that of all the things he had to hit he decided to pop two tyres in one go. So back we went, two cars full of everything the two bus companions could not carry to locate this bus. We stopped by the bus emptied out one of the cars who took the bus driver and two tyres forward another 50km to find a place that either sold new bus tyres or could repair the tyres to drive back 50 km and then put the tyres on to then carry on. This little section of our adventure took long enough as it was, adding 2 and a half hours to our journey time by waiting in the sweltering heat. But no matter, we were pleased as we saved the day and were known as heroes for the remainder of our time in Tofo.

Yet you would think that this alone would be enough of a deviation from our initial plan. Oh no, there is more to come. Having saved a bus full of people and been deemed heroes, we still had around 300 km to get to our destination – yes because we had to go backwards to find this bus and that in itself took a while. And during the festive season it was quickly pointed out to me that police officers like a quick financial fix to add to their merry jolly end of year. It is apparently quite common – I can testify as I witnessed it – for officers to pull up cars who are on their long journeys to spend the festive season at the beach or to visit family and fine them for speeding, incorrect overtaking – a variety of things! And so as to not fill out paper work they can quickly solve the issue by asking for payment and the problem for the driver will simply disappear.

What a phenomenal thing to do for the officers but just our sheer luck one of our cars go stopped TWICE! Paid his fine and then in the second time got his license removed! Said police officer told our dear friend he had a pending fine from a previous journey in 2013 which had appeared in the system and he would have to find a local authority and pay it within 48 hours then contact the officer 200 km away from where we were heading to to go and collect his license. This is all too much at this point for my brain to deal with and as this situation unfolds our dear companions on their now repaired bus zoom past us.

Now I am a true believer in fate and destiny and in this occasion the timing could not have been better. Mr Bus Driver is related to the Police man! Having seen us in distress and one of our own about to have his license removed Mr Bus Driver quickly rang his cousin who at the time was still with us and told him about our bus situation. Not only did our friend get his license back he didn’t have to pay a second fine!

Happy days! The heroes heroically saved by the original victims and we were now on our merry way to the backpackers inn. Nearly 14 hours later we arrived at our destination and it all seemed worth it to dip my toes in the warmest sand I had felt since the Philippines and to dive into the warm clean waters of the Indian Ocean.

No travel adventure comes without its ups and downs, however it is all worth it once you arrive there and these mishaps often make for the best memories. We for example got free drinks for 3 nights of partying thanks to saving the tyres of a bus that was owned by the backpackers inn we were lodged at. It was phenomenal and that road trip was part of a brilliant trip. What felt like a truly awful journey actually has turned out to be one of my fondest memories and stories from that trip and with this I move on from Mozambique to my up and coming city break.

Happy travels and reading!

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A quickie… with the Mona Lisa!

As my French Adventure came to an end, I had to visit the Louvre to sneak a peek at the one and only Mona Lisa! This really is a quick little post to let you think about this… would you consider the Mona Lisa the most expensive and exuberant painting in the world?

Tourists flocked to this section of the museum to see this ONE painting that takes up an entire wall and can be barely larger than an A2 sheet of paper. It is also, in my opinion, though beautiful and humbling as it is to see, it is quite dark and grubby. The Mona Lisa angered me somewhat, for it got SO much attention and people were flashing their cameras, definitely not considering how much that could damage the painting, and yet it sits there with its dreary smile and oil slowly melting and deforming. (For those who didn’t know that that happens to oil paintings!)

I actually didn’t even reach the Mona Lisa close enough to take a photo and I really didn’t want to. The whole experience for me was ruined by groups of screaming teenagers who don’t give a flying monkey about art plastering their iphones as close as possible to the painting, stretching their arms far over the limit to get a better image than the person next to them. The painting demands respect, and so I looked and paid my respects to Mona, who in the 1500s was an innovative painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, who broke many artistic barriers. And as respect to Da Vinci, who painted some of the most illustrious works of art in the whole of history, I have kept Mona well and truly as a memory to myself and enjoyed the rest of the pieces of work which were 30 times bigger than Mona displayed in the same room.

I did however take a photo of the Venus de Milo, because ancient history duh! Greek sculptures for me a huge a phenomenon, they all look more or less the same as do ruins – as my uncle and boyfriend would say – but they are a true testament to the survival of the ancient greek culture through the times, as their histories influence and continue to demonstrate that the world was built around them! Plus all these things from those times keep re-surfacing, as if these cultures can never truly be erased. Standing the true test of time!

Please visit the Louvre, it would take your 4 months to see it all… that is a fact I learnt on a river tour of the Seine, but the sections I saw truly encouraged me to want to visit again!

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