Sailing BABS

20 May 2020
13 September 2019
07 June 2019 | Panama
15 May 2019
02 April 2019 | Guadaloupe, Antigua, Barbuda, Sint Maarten
02 March 2019 | St Lucia, Martinique, Dominica
18 February 2019
28 December 2018 | Gomera to Grenada
23 December 2018
09 November 2018 | Portugal and the Canaries
19 October 2018 | Portuagal
03 October 2018 | Portugal
26 August 2018 | Poole harbour

Lockdown!

20 May 2020
Amy Manning
The 4 weeks shut up on Babs seemed to go pretty fast...i went ashore once a week for groceries getting a tonne of fresh veggies from the market. Ben and Andy worked on a few boat jobs, making an epic rain catcher with material we bought in Ecuador. Took em most of a day to design and fix it but is proper profesh…Our resident seamstress (Andy) even hand stitched it! We hauled Ben up the mast one day so he could take the wind speed detector down as not reading right. I exercised most days doing a downloaded routine in my tiny saloon space where I spent most of my time. Practiced some drawing, painting, cooked and read a lot! Amazing story called ‘Unbroken’ which is also a film was one of the greatest survival tales I’ve ever read! Get on it if ya aint read it already🤩. Confinement aint much different to being on passage except it’s easier to move and get things done without the lurch and roll of da open seas…and plenty of fresh grub!🐷. One morning I woke up gagging from a dream watching a huge rat being pulled out of someone’s gullet with a long, thick tail but feeling like it was in me own! 🤮 Occasional big rain but mostly a sweaty kinda heat during the month but not unbearable. Had to move the anchor a couple of times as funky winds kept pushing us close to other boats which had Ben and Andy fretting…after a day of mutterings on whether to move they managed a decision 😜. Playing cards and backgammon…finally I beat Ben at backgammon for the first time in our whole trip after Lenny from Perigee helpfully sent me through some tactics (which I didn’t understand most of but still manged da win!) While ashore filling water jugs a fisherman hosed a teenage chicken into a school of thrashing sharks! He paddled about with his little claws being swooshed about by 1-2mtr long sharks feedin on fish guts before making it to other side of quay. I plucked the poor, bedraggled thing out and he had a bit of a limp but frikin miracle he was alive to limp!

A lot of the boats in the bay kept themselves and us entertained by coming up with different ideas…there was the usual general information net at 8am then the ‘womens’ net twice a week at 9am where we got to know some of the other gals stuck on their boats that we hadn’t met. World news was broadcasted by ‘Amelie’ at 12pm. At 4.30pm 3 times a week there was a raidio show hosted by boaters with the ‘good news’ and interviews, stories and music by random fellow imprisoned. Ben spoke on the radio very reluctantly (I heaved him into it 😜good to get outta our comfort zone sometimes) about how they made the rain catcher …good design as we managed to catch 180ltrs one night form a long downpour. Bless him…he done real well…proud🥰. I played me penny whistle down the radio another night …weird no one can see you but was still sweating and bit breathy while playing! Then at 7pm every night a boat would put on trivia for whoever we wanted to…we only ever listened coz we too thick to answer but was pretty funny and meant we didn’t have to talk (as nuffin left to say!) over dinner😂. 1 night Perigee put on a virtual boat party welcoming us onboard on a certain radio frequency then having different frequency’s for parts of boat e.g number 70 for the ‘boom bar’ up on deck and 68 for the cockpit…was strange and pretty fun but didn’t last that long as only 1 person at a time can speak on your channel. Had 1 day where I just wanted to cry all day long…sooo bored of me company and missing people back home…mojitos and cards cheered me up nicely in the evening 🤗. Beluga (boat) started a bakery delivery down to the quay so we could all have fresh baguettes 3 times a week…pleased us all especially Andy😛 very much. About 2 weeks in another boat ordered 4g sims from Tahiti which Andy kindly bought us a so we have 13gigs for the next 2 months. Great to see pics etc on facebook and download WhatsApp vids!

On Easter Sunday I made some hot cross buns and collected banana ice-cream from ‘Itsara’ (boat) for £1.40 each and made Roast potatoes!!...Babs first ever with our improved fixed oven! On the 17th of April we heard confinement rules were relaxing so Andy went for an early walk...his 1st in almost a month followed by an early lunch and the start of lazy hobbit trilogy arvo! 🤩 Only managed the 1st 2 films with a glutton of snacks and homemade toffee popcorn as the 3rd was a bad copy. Later went over to Perigee for a better copy. Day before restrictions eased up Itsara gave out free vanilla icecream…sooooo good!

So on Monday the 20th of may we were freed.. me and Ben walked over the hill to a beach and had an amazing swim relishing the time alone! I like Andy a lot but after 3.5 months on a tiny boat together it’s time for some not together time😉 . Andy takes walk in the arvo up the other side of the bay to a lookout point. Next day me and ben walked up another hill with about 20 other boaters (not sposed to be socializing in big groups so got told off by gendarmes and tried to stay further apart till we got to woodland) Mega view of the bay at top, great to talk to some gals and found starfruit and Avvy trees on way back down. Had some gin and music on the fore-deck as Andy kayaked (Bev from Dandelion kindly lent us) round chatting to other boats before joining us. Walks, kayaking, sups, munching and chatting to people other than each other fills next few days…bloody lush! I see shark fins, jumping fish and spotted rays from the kayak in the bay. Olena (boat) made a chocolate order from Ua pou, a neighbouring island so fatty ere obvs put me franks forward and gotta say its deliiisshhhhh! Finally taught Andy how to make a Dahl…I taught him chapattis on the crossing so hopefully he’ll give Jane a night off when he’s back homesky 🥘 Lots of talk about whether Andy should stay or go during the lockdown as everything is so unknown but finally decide its best to go home while he has a chance. Ben helps him organise a ticket for the supply/cruise ship, the Aranui from Nuku-Hiva to Tahiti while Jane organises a plane outta there straight to Paris, then 1 to Heathrow. Have drinkys for his last night before dropping him off at 2pm the next day as the Aranui comes into port. Pretty excited to get a look round on the tour…about 5 others leaving the bay for home so he’s got a few mates to keep him company/help him 😊. Get shown the bar but they have no booze 😂 and a swimming pool that has no water in it. However his room's got a proper shower and a big fat bed! Jell! Big waves as we dingo away and receive Anzac biscuits from Lenny and Dave to celebrate Anzac day (they Aussie)
Had a hissy fit the next day coz Ben didn’t put the pasta on for luncheon while I was ashore and I’d skipped brekki…proper silent treatment (bloody ol’ bitch) until he agreed to make dinner 🙈🤭 enjoying each other’s sole company already😂. Started drinking and playing games in the arvo and had a chat with Pete who stopped by also helped recover from bitch meltdown. After a rainy, lazy day we walked up to the lookout spying mantas down below...went higher up a goat track and found a goat hangout in an overhang of the rocky cliff…goat poo pebbles filling the ground…pretty cool up there! Walked to the furthest grocery store the next day and found 500g of gnocchi for £1.70! Bought shitloads! Bays got really rolley with swell comin in so we start thinking about moving bays…law has said we are allowed to move around the island we are on now but the local gendarmes disagree. Make a large banana cake giving some to dandelion to say thanks for kayak loan and some to perigee to thank for Anzac bics and films! Sundowners at Petes was laughs spesh when Ben flooded his toilet…so glad it weren’t me! 🤣 On dock at 8am next morn to meet Debbie (fellow essex sprog) and Steven who showed us a Tiki site in the jungle. Happy, chatty gal…wikid avin a proper chat with the female variety. Had my first swim with the Mantas in a nearby cove that evening as the sun was setting…most incredible experience! See a single hander British boat come in to anchor who Ben thinks will be a character so dingo off and find out he’s from London, probably late 60’s…sooo great to hear a proper Essex accent. He’s just spent 6 weeks sailing from Panama😲. Found the Mantas again in the bay between some boats and had a majestical swim…gliding below within touching distance…truly incredible! 5.5 hour trek the next day up to the antennae on the highest hill overlooking da bay. Legs felt stronger than before and was a right ol wonder seeing the interior…New Zealand like wilderness! Cloudy day with a cool refreshing breeze made me a happy ol rambler. Had 3 single handers around 1 night- Pete, Tony and John…was a right ol laugh all of them bringing goodies to share. Pete even brought his own dipping tool in the form of shirt pocket crackers for me Baba ganouch…apparently he was peckish and didn’t know if we’d provide nibblets 😂..had me in tears cracking up. Next night we went over to Stephen and Debbie’s onboard their swanky oyster yacht for dins dins…very generous, fun English peops…another great night. Set sail the next day at 12pm feelin a bit dodge…lumpy seas and head wind making me dodgier...takes about 3 hours and lots of tacks to get a few miles to next bay…very glad to anchor up in Houmii. 🤗

Houmii bay
Lil sup in the morn...i caught a wave on me knees (like a ledge!😎) and managed to fall off heavily onto me left hip as the board hit the beach…obvs didn’t fall far but it worsened me back strain that I spronged lifting the outboard onto boat day before. I wimp out of surf as sooo many stones and coral to hit when I undoubtedly fall off…balance aint in me skill set 🙃. Ben starts talking about cutting his dreads off for the 3 billionth time and after some discussion actually finalizes a decision….i'm pretty excited and nervous as is he...he faffs around for ages getting go-pro set up and procrastinating in many ways before I get me first choppidee chop🤪😈 goes swell with lots of laughy meltdowns but actually comes out looking hot! I thought it probably would and was very pleased to finds he has curls! Styled it perfectly to make sure he looks exactly like guy martin and voila! 🙊 Flakey scalp gets magically better over next few days and we have a healthy head o hair. Backs real aching next day so read most of it trying to rest as Ben slaves away on boat jobs…mehehehhehe. Aching so much at night, tossing and turning to get cwumfy as pain moves to front of gut. Bit better by morn so motor 20 mins round to the next bay…Taipivai. Leave the engine on as batteries are suffering a bit with this cloudy weather while we go and chat to Perigee. Lennys a nurse so quiz her bout me back and she says it just sounds like a sprain and to take ibroprofen which puts me hyper-condriact mind at ease. Take a walk down a wooded path collecting limes and seeds for jewelry to the little village half hour away. Find a yoga mat for £20!! to insulate our fridge…excessive but least we get our towels back which had been doing the job. Card night with Perigee on Babs teaching them shithead…Lenny brought homemade focaccia, and lots of other goodies while I did me usual toffee popcorn 🙈😂. Actually cold enough for a blanket in the night...real nice to snuggle up. Next day we took a 5 hour walk to a waterfall mostly along a car track…walked into a sickening smell of dead animal which lasted for about 5 mins until we saw the source…horse hair and fluids on the road…looked into the ditch and saw a rotting corpse covered in flies..i was gagging me guts out as we sped away 🤮 poor ol fing. Waterfall was first running one we’ve seen in Marquesas…filled up our water bottle before retreating quickly from mosquito land. Bottom scrubbing and cake making in the arvo as Ben got Babs ready to sail tomoz.

Anaho bay
Left at 9am…big choppy seas and not enough viiinnnd…Sailed 2 miles from island and chucked in one of Bens dreads as an offering to wind gods🐱‍👓 …seemed to work and had nice weather …few tacks and after 6 hours we anchored in the yachties favoured anchorage…Anaho. Is real beauts with 4 beaches in the curve of the bay. White sand and clearer water than is the norm for Marquesas. Ben helps Perigee bring up their anchor as their gypsy is broken and we get invited for dinner onboard for Daves bday. I make popcorn again as no time for anything else…7 other boatys join us all bringing delish goodies and Lennie makes a spliffing chicken satay😋. Ukuleles are brought out after dinner but me gin aint working for me and mega tired so head home around 10pm. Sooooo knachered the next day…feeling a booze detox coming on again…all these sundowners int doing me too well…Bens feeling the same so gunna attempt having tea at next sundowner😎. Walk over the top of hill over to the village the next day…tonnes of mango trees on walk, looks like season is coming to an end but still manage to grab a few. Clean the bottom of hull for final time…had got so bad with growth and has left stains...poor ol Babs defo needs a new paint job. Unfortunately we haven’t left ourselves much time in Anaho as me Tattoo man can only do weekends. Also we are hearing the rest of the society islands may open up to sailors by end of the month so we’ve decided to start getting ready/provisioned to continue west so hopefully 1 day we’ll get back to the homeland! Say goodbye to everyone the next day…get Baloos shortbread recipe off them and collect 8-ish coconuts off the beach. I take a sea sickness pill just in case and have the best sail in a while…seas are bit calmer, less wind and manage to fetch most of the way back to Taiohae bay. The next day we go to tattoo man...Moana is doing mine as he does colour…draws it on my back but I’m not happy with it…he changes it until I like it before 5 hours of pain…don’t remember me other ones being this bad! Pretty happy with it though...about £185 so pretty good deal I reckon. Bens back there the next day so his cousin Daniel (the main tattooist) can do an epic piece on da boi’s leg. Proper good…sickening looking at his shaved, girly limb though🤣 …looking forward to the hair filling in again. So Bens a changed lad…new hair, new leg...both looking awesome and we are gunna spend the next few days provisioning etc and filling with water from the natural stream fed hoses here…water is soooo pure and yummerz! Then hopefully sail to Ua pou as it’s the only one of the inhabited Marquesian islands we haven’t seen yet. Spend couple of days there before doing the 3-4 day sail to the Tuomotos. Felling real lucky to have freedom as the lockdown worked quickly here so no cases of covid any more…just hope we can continue to sail west to make it home by next summer💚💙.

Hope everyone’s coping with confinement in back home…love ya all big time innit XXXXXXXX

Tahuata, Ua-Huka and Nuku-Hiva

19 April 2020
Amy Manning
Me and Andy Pandy spent our last morning on Hiva Oa in town getting veggie’s…Lovely colorful lady who told us she was a teacher at the local school stopped and gave us a lift back to the quay. Ben got lil’ jobs done on the boat while we were gone...on picking us up the ‘boys’ spotted a floating onion in the scummy bay from the dinghy and of course couldn’t leave it to go to waste, so against my protests they scooped it up and to be fair after peeling back a few layers it was good enough for dinner! The Harmans pull up the 2 anchors before lunch and we sail against the wind till we reach the headland where we turn to Tahuata Island and the wind pushes us along. Anchor a couple of hours later in the lush Vaietu bay (we call it Jimmys bay who is the main restaurant/wifi owner but also a bit of a prick so we attempting to call it by its rightful name)

We meet a lone sailor called peter who’s ENGLISH...i'm very excited (most people we’ve met have been French so language barrier) as he seems like a laugh and being British must love a booze-up! Head to Josephs bar as Jimmy’s trying to rip us off and spend all day on very slow wifi trying to upload previous blog and photos. Have Peter, Ada and John (Dutch couple off another boat) on board for drinkys in the eve...great to chat to some different people! Pete’s in his 50’s i'm guessing and bought a racing boat in the UK…with not much sailing experience he practiced sailing in the med for a year or 2 before braving the big oceans. Ben and Andy help him up his mast the next day while I make a choccy cake for Cyril and his wife. Motor-sail down to the next bay-Happatoni. Ben drops me off on the move so I can get to Cyril’s before they have luncheon. Andy takes Babs to anchorage and ben jumps back on board. On me way up to Cyril’s I spot Magali on someone’s veranda so we both head up to Cyril’s in hope for me breadfruit lesson. His wife aint there but he says to come back tomoz morn…hand over da cake and follow Magali to another of her local friends to see her making a massive vat of Guava jam while her husband carves on the veranda…listening to music on a boombox…bloody amazing, chilled life overlooking the trees and down to the sea. Ava juice on Pukeko (Magali’s boat) before heading back to Babs for lunch, snorkel. Bake an amazing bread and banana pudding with left over baguette…My fat cells are living a multiplying kinda lifestyle 🐽

At Cyril’s the next morning, picking Magali up on the way…wifey seems pretty busy but shows us the method for breadfruit patties while her lil, naked son runs around and Cyril gets on with his carving. She tells us they only eat once a day at 11am…massive meal but they do it for health and as I said they are practically the only slim, fit Marquesan’s I’v seen. They also run or walk in the arvo. The wife (can’t remember her name🙈) gave us some patties to take home and a breadfruit to practice with 😍. Used the internet at another of Magalis local friends on way back to the boat. Back for lunch then get picked up by Chris and Magali to swim off the point where I see my first white tip shark…small and far below but there!! On swim back to Babs we get stung by loads of microscopic jellyfish which I totes didn’t enjoy...Magali seemed fine with it 😎…put vinegar on da stings which proper helped and disappeared by the morn! Chris carried on spearfishing and gave us a Mackerel which was bloody delish after a heavy bean and egg diet. Couple off Mars boat (the Martians as they like to be called) comes the next morning with a lump of Tuna they just caught…Bens feeling the need to get his man on so him and da dad go spearfishing on the point where Ben spears a small Mackerel we have for lunch…1st time I’ve had the boat to meself since Ecuador….felt fucking GREAT!! Sailed back to Vaietu in the arvo…peter drops some beers off to say cheers for dragging him up da mast😊 . Snorkel-dinner-bed!

Go to Jimmys as he aint there so can get cheaper wifi price (we think) there most of day…his mum pushes a plate of fruit on us which we can’t refuse but bargain it down to 300 fpf. They then try charge us an outrageous price which we talk our way out of agreeing to come back tomorrow to speak to Jimmy…defo not going to do that as he way overcharges but not to yachties he knows/likes! (which aint us as don’t speak French). Andy heads over to Petes for drinkeths while me and Ben have a bit of time to ourselves🤩. Andy come back around 10pm pretty merry..lolz! Spend next day hiding on boat hoping Jimmy wont come over…period is here on time which I’m pretty happy about meaning me ovary cysts aint fucking things up too much. Ben cleans out the bilge as the gas alarm keeps going off. Spend allllllllll day trying to decide when to leave for Ua Huka in the northern island range. Finally decide to leave at 4.30am as long as I don’t have to get too involved (gotta be some positives to an extra body onboard 😜) Boys up at 4.30, I stash things away then return to me pit as we motor off…woke around 6.30am to a glassy sea and dolphins and what we think was whales on both our sides and behind us far in the distance…motor towards the ones on our left who disappear but then the ones on our right serenely arch past our bow….totally magical. Wind comes in soon after and we arrive around 4pm to Ua-Huka

Ua Huka

Rowed ashore the next morn as shallow, rocky beach and heaved dingo (Radagast) up the ramp sticking it under some trees. Had an amaaaazing shower overlooking Babs and the one other boat anchored in the bay. Walked across a horsey field to look around the Artisanal market and sea museum. Followed the road up and around the headland spying Manta rays in the clear bay around the boats!! Lil turtles popping their heads up looking right at us before diving back down. Walked into the next bay which was overflowing with colorful flowers, slopped down an ice-cream, walked through the village then down to the cliffs finding the best ever rock pools…filled with so many colors and different fish in clear waters. Heading back to our bay spotting more rays we swim off the beach. Lazy arvo while Andy makes his first meal on board Babs -potato and onion pie…was loverly😜 (Droid would not have been impressed with the state and amount of onions😂)

Next day we walk through the village up the valley asking directions to the Tiki site…kind bloke drove us up a track past some barky dogs to the start of the 10min walk. Tonnes of Mango trees on the well-kept path before we step onto the oldest Tiki site in the Marquesas overlooking the village and ocean through a big ol’ gap in the trees. Real special place…I carry on up a steep goat path to explore higher as Ben and Andy get their OMmmm on in the sacred site. I take the right hand path at a T-junction but don’t find much more of interest so slide back down to join in the OM. Rowing back to the boat we are surrounded by huge Manta rays…went back for a bit of lunch and to pick up snorkels but they were gone when we headed back over 😮. Sail to the next bay before dark …crazy place like a canyon, steep sides surrounding us and not too much room to swing…we are the only yacht there.

Ben a bit worried bout leaving Babs as we go ashore the next morning…manage to get a lift off a mum and her young son to the Arboretum…This place is amaaazing…government funded, growing different varieties of fruit to come up with new ones which they aren’t allowed to sell. This means we can fill as many bags as we can carry….n that we do, with star fruit, tonnes of mangoes, a few guava, limes and a couple of pampelmousse that the gardener finds for us. Hitched a lift back into town and weighed Babs down with 3 rucksacks and 2 carrier bags of FREE, fresh, organic fruit! Feel lucky as shit! (a good, healthy, sweet smelling shits that’s floating down a clear, jungle river)! After filling up our water we sailed slowly at 3.5knts with spinnaker to Houmi bay in Nuku-hiva…put engine on for last bit and arrived just before dark.

Nuku-Hiva (Houmi bay)

Me n Andy had the shits in the morning….too much fruit? Ben and Andy had a row in the dinghy. I Swam and read in day until sun got cooler so me and Ben could walk up through the village, hearing locals singing in the cute, tiny church as we walked on by. Pooey pants had taken it outta me so soon headed back having a shower on the beach. Up at 6.15am the next morning to ramble 1 hour to the village in the hope for baguettes. Managed to get a lift in back of a pick up from a dad and his 4 kids. Seems it wasn’t baking day like I’d read it was but managed to get some ‘fridge’ bread…also found onion, cucumber and TOMATOES!!🤩 Lady in shop spoke English and I had me first proper coronavirus chat finding out what she’d seen on the news...when I asked for potatoes she gave us a breadfruit out of her garden (their potato substitute) Walked back to our bay and had a late bread-filled brekki on the beach overlooking Babs. A local woman and her toddler son were picking some purple berries we keep seeing around but weren’t sure whether they were edible. She calls us over and hands us some…dark purple with huge stone inside but sour and refreshing named 'Pistach'. Swim and chill on Babs then sail round the corner and anchor in the bay we just walked to ‘Taipivai.’ Lil private beach where we find a fire pit…roast a whole breadfruit and munch it with lentil sozzys and gravy…gotta av gravy in ya life!! Mango rum punch keeps Andy happy as he settles in his grandpa’s armchair notched into a tree trunk. Toe really aching in the morn and is colored in red n purple where I wacked it into a rock last night so chilled in the morning while Ben fetched some pastries from ashore. After lunch we went through the dried provisions re-sorting and vacuum sealing our new sack of flour. Swim and shower on beach...feeling real lucky to be living this life as I cook dins in me well stocked galley singing along to Willie and the bandits and the Teskey brothers.😁

After me nearly🙈 daily routine of meditation and exercise we sailed an hour to Taiohae bay on the Main Island of Nuku-Hiva…Been really looking forward to dribbling me way through the only Veggie market in the Marquesas. By time we get there it’s just fruit left so we head into town and find another stall, stocking up on veg before meeting Magali and family for lunch and wifi. I have me first chomp of Wahoo and is mega yummerz! Manage to speak to me mum on whatsap and she confirms she won’t be able to get on her flight to come see us because of covid 19…very disappointing but as long as everyone is safe and healthy tis all good. Filled up on tins and tings the next day as worried supplies from Tahiti might not be coming in with this virus going round…walk up to a big ol’ monument on top of a hillock overlooking the bay as the sun goes down and do some stretching on the grass…actual grass…fuckin love it!! Andy’s worried bout his cholesterol drugs as he is going to be on board longer than planned so sweat it up to the pharmacy then to the hospital….got an appointment for the next day resulting in a decent supply of drugs. We got our washing done by Daniel and talked to him about designing us some tattoos…feeling very excited about it! Pinched a breadfruit from the beautiful cathedral gardens (been told this was ok to do…gods bounty and all that🤗) Last day before we leave for Daniels bay for me birfday trip to the waterfall. Prep our tonnes of ripening mangoes for the freezer and swapped books in at Kevin’s yacht services. Walked to hardwear store with Harms to try and find gas which has run out on the island and we only have a small bottle left. No luck! Lenny from Perigee copied loads of series and films to our hard drive....woop woop!!…She’s been in isolation for nearly 2 weeks after flying back to her boat and hubby from Ozzy but I still feel a bit bad it took her most of the day to copy shit for us 🙈. Motor sail round the corner to Daniels before dark.

Big ol’ Buuummole day (Daniels bay)

Up at 6.30am…Choccy 🤩 from Ben and a Wikid printed sari type thing from Andy. Ashore by 7.15 to walk to the famed waterfall. Walking past people’s homes and lush gardens a lady offers us lunch for 1000fpf (£7) each on our way back…this gets ben out of having to cook me dins so we all happy with dat.🤣 An angrier woman further along wants us to pay 1000fpf each to walk up to the waterfall. We were told by Chris and Magail that they no longer charged so we felt put out and didn’t have the money so agreed to pay after the walk. After leaving the heavenly gardens we came to wild jungle with tangled roots. We crossed little streams or balanced over fallen trees...the path took us through an ancient village with just the stone platforms left and a breadfruit fermenting storage pit. Suddenly we were into the deep caverns with rocky walls towering above us and white birds with long, thin tails gliding above us. We found no water running at the waterfall but we swam into the dark pool, climbing over a big boulder and climbing into the green pool the other side to see it close up…the fresh water felt sooooo refreshing, magical and soft on our skin! Crayfish nibbling on our toes🤪. 2 hour trek back the same way to a Lovely lunch in the ladies garden with her trillion cats n kittens who kept nicking the grub. Fresh fish, chicken, breadfruit chips and a salad of grated green mango and papaya with lemon. Her husband sits under a tree preparing a massive tuna for drying on lines strung nearby. Back on board a lil rest before gin time, phase 10 and no dinner…woopsy doopsy. Passed out around 10pm apparently! Felt awful in the morn after puking but 1 positive thought was I hadn’t puked in a whole year since my last birthday when I decided to do me 3 months no booze! So I’v defo learned to be able to go easier on the booze…just need to eat dinner! Andy experiences his first ever duvet day as we hunker down watching the 2 Kingsman films. Ben takes dinghy upriver to collect some drinking water…finish duvet day with Bens homemade almond brownie…soooooo good!!

Ben and Andy trying to design the water catcher as I skip brekki in attempt to eat for only 8 hours a day…summink jack tells me is good for health and weight. He did the 8 hour and now does 6 hours claiming to feel amazing and keep slim. As I keep eating man portions and lots of cake I need a new plan as I have no will power with small portions and sugar! Went well the first day and was really nice to be hungry for lunch as haven’t felt hunger for agggges.. eating 3 large meals a day with not enough movement=fatty bum bum😂. Lady stops by on a boat and sells us some fruit. Me and Ben head ashore in arvo for water and to pay the money grabber her cash…unfortunately😜 she aint in!! Come across some stoned blokes lounging around on their veranda near a tree full of pamplemousse…Andy keeps nearly having a stroke at the thought of running out of da tings so we make a deal and get a sack for 600fpf (£4) leaving them all giggiling as we wander back to Radagast. Have a walk on the other beach and spot 7-8 baby black tip sharks near our feet in the shallows...bloody wikid to see!

Ask permission the next day to head up a small path from the beach past the only inhabitants house...they were very friendly describing which paths to take...apparently a 6 hour walk back to Taiohae bay…we walk through dry vegetation spying the next boulder beach along…Andy screams as a big, fat poisoness centipede nearly eats him🤪. Ben climbs down to the beach while we wimp out…I hot n hungry so head back and swim at sharky bay. Very welcomed lunch before tacking our way back to Taiohae. Radioed friends on Perigee as we sail in and told the more serious news on the coronavirus, hearing we are now in lockdown and can’t move anchorages. The Gendarme are posted at the quay but gone by 5pm. We go ashore for water and it’s very weird with restaurants closed and quiet streets. WhatsApp our families while Andy has the hard decision of whether to stay or try and get home.

Lock down

Andy decides it’s safer to stay and can help us if we need to do long passages and borders are closed. Not sure how I feel about that but he isn’t too much trouble 😜…positives and negatives to him staying on I guess but I shall attempt to be positive! 😁😁 Ben drops me ashore where I sign into the Gendarmerie…Get a sim card from the postie so have limited internet for WhatsApp only. Grocery shops are either serving from doors or allowing 1 in at a time. Finally got some more brie🐷 as the supply ship ‘Aranui’ has arrived, get enough veg for a couple of weeks.
Listening to the morning ‘net’ where cruisers give info over the vhf radio we hear the government doesn’t want us swimming off the boats even to do general maintenance to the hull, we only allowed ashore once a week for essentials so we trapped for the foreseeable. Time to get out me drawing stuff etc...luckily I got loads a books onboard still and able to do quick swaps with other cruisers although not allowed on each other’s boats. Amazing to see about 15 Rays swimming around the Anchorage (about 70 boats stuck in the bay with us) gliding right past good ol’ Babsy. Ben manages to score gas the next day and uses a new fitting to transfer the large bottle of gas to our 3 small ones…right ol’ winner as Kevin at ‘yacht services’ charges double to fill em up himself. Ben manages to get another big bottle from another shop even though we only allowed to have one each per visit of the supply ship…happy days for us though and let the cooking commence….should be good for gas for 4-5 months!!

So anyways we are getting 4G internet today so will be able to see pics and videos from home and keep in touch better.
What this confinement does seem to be good for is people being a bit more self-sustainable...hearing lots of people planting veg and using their imagination for games, crafts, garden projects etc. Also gives the ones that don’t have to work time to work on other skills that they might not have time for before…or just to do nuffin and rest from the hectic world...welcome to our world🤩🤗. Enjoy this time off (very sorry for people still working) and let’s see how many babies/divorces come out of 2020 😂.

We have been in confinement for 28 days now…will write up that rather boring blog when it ends...they currently saying the 29th of april but sure it will be longer…. Big ol’ wet farts to ya’ll…love loveeee lovvevvevevevvevevevevevve xxxXXXxxx

Pacific crossing and the southern Marquesas

03 March 2020
Amy Manning
So after a couple more days of researching, provisioning and fixing da boat up- (buying a 25kg sack of oats, sacks of rice, flour and beans) we meet Andy and Droid off the bus and sit down for beers and a catch up. They helped us majorly, all working from get up to slumber for the next 8 days…dunno how we would have been ready without them! They helped Ben with boat jobs putting softening up so the sails don’t chafe etc and helped me with da grub shopping. Couple of days into their arrival we took the bus to Manta on search for brown flour, snorkel gear, fishing gear, spices and capers (someone told me they were cheap in Ecuador but after much searching, driving Andy and Droid insane we only found tiny, expensive pots….🙈) Before we got the bus back we checked out the wooden boats that were being built on the beach…walking through an area that made me literally gag...aroma of dead bodies, fish and shit! Fucking grossest thing that’s ever made its way up me nostrils 🤮!! Back in Bahia we spent 2 days putting Babs back on the beach to scrape the incredibly barnacly bottom. Ben took the shaft out AGAIN….had it straightened by the local engineer and replaced the cutlass bearing within a few rushed hours while the tide was down. Andy and droid took on the ‘orrible job of replacing some bolts on the sea cocks. Having to climb into the bathroom cupboards while the boat was leaning at a 45 degree angle. 2nd day was much quicker as all 4 of us got on the job of scraping the hull and repainting with Antifoul. All got pretty sunburnt on the first day and went out to celebrate our englishness, munchin burgers at a friendly, colorful hostel in the evening. Off to market, buying 10lbs of peanuts for $15!! Vacuum packing is underway to store the dried goods and takes an agggggee with some things losing there seal very quickly…first time we’ve used one so just getting used to it and double bagging spikey type foods such as rice. We decided to use a vacuum sealer as it’s meant to help stop the weevils from living in the oxygen free zone and helps to pack down toilet roll and store our bulk goodies. Back to the market to spend $75 on fresh fruit, veg and eggys. Wash some of the stuff in a mild vinegar solution b4 storing in our Andy-made nets (tried vacuum sealing some of the fresh stuff and didn’t go well…fermenting or spoiling very quickly. We leave a day later than planned as I didn’t feel ready to get the boat clean and packed proper like.


We finally set off at 6.30am on the 16/1/20. Adiosta leads us out guiding our way through the pass at the mouth of the river in his panga. I throw me chopped off hair into the river as we motor out as an offering and thanks to wonderful Ecuador. Waves are pretty non-existent compared to when we came in 6 months earlier. Depth went down to 0.7m beneath the keel and as we enter the pacific a pod of dolphins swim us out...the water soon changing from muddy brown to pacific blue. 🐬🐬

I started to feel a bit queasy as the seas got choppier…but still managed to eat some soup and sarnies before a curry in the night droid had thoughtfully pre-made. Me and Ben were on the 1am to 5am shift…pretty fast so turned the engine off and put a reef in. Everyone busy the next day, Andy extending the fishing boarding net, me sorting through ripe fruit and clearing up a spilt cream in a locker, droid sorting the log and Ben fixing a leak in the folk sail (forward cabin). Droids kindly taken on sleeping in there even though it’s hotter and has more movement than the other beds. Andy is up the back in the quarter berth. Ben's in the starboard saloon and I’m on the port side with lea cloths up to stop us hitting the floor on the many rolls. Sun comes out after a cloudy morning and we are sailing at 5-6knts (7-8knts overland with the current) in flat seas...lovely comfortable sailing…I muchly like!
We are pretty motivated the first week…me sorting food...all the fruit is turning way too quickly so we are overrun… making smoothies with at least 4 bananas in each, banana porridge cake with about 20 bananas in, drying and freezing the yellow delights! we stoopidly bought 2 stalks of green bananas for $3-4 each which both turned yellow in a couple of days…droids complaining he gunna get the shits with all this fruit and I wonder if iv put him off ‘nanas 4ever with a particularly bananary smoothie which made everyone need a nap. Andy spends about 3 days threading string through shade cloth which is entertaining as the needle won’t fit through he holes with the string attached. I have an idea to superglue the single thread to the end of the needle and he goes a lot faster with a smile on his mush…sometimes me ol noggin clicks into gear🤓 . The ‘boys’ try and use a sextant to figure out celestial navigation along the way. Lots of faffing and staring through the telescopy thing but I never heard a position uttered ‘cept when they were looking at the electronic devices🤪 . Amazing star constellations at night, the Milky Way shining on our port side as we watch the southern cross move throughout the night. On day 5 Droid gets his fishing gear set up and Ben puts the stay sail up. More wildlife is spotted up ahead with lots of splashing…as we get closer we see hundreds of dolphins jumping and probably feeding on the same route as us in a long line…serene moment until they soon dived heading off on different angles from Babs. I start re-reading ‘Fatu-hiva’ (An amazing true account from the Norwegian adventurer and scientist Thor Heyerdahl when he lived there for a year with his wife going back to nature in 1937) which I read when I was about 20 years old...majorly loved it then. Can’t quite believe we will be there in the next few weeks! Andy read it after me and I think everyone’s pretty excited to explore it for real!! On day 10 we finish the first banana stalk having mashed and frozen LOTS. Counting the stems- 126 bananas are in are guts/shit or the freezer! Also dried 3 in the sun and after 4 days they came out real swell. We changed sails and put the pole out for the first time as the wind moved from our port side to behind on day 11…sea is ‘pappily’ (droids word meaning a bit all over the place I think) and the sun is beaming. Day 12 with not much wind had us stopping the boat to go for a swim…Ben dived under to unravel slimy jellyfish tentacles off the log wheel which tells us how fast we are going while we kept shark look out. We all eventually worked up the guts and had a very, very quick swim ‘n wash. Proper got me heart pumping even though there’s been NO sign of sharks or any wildlife except flying fish and the 2 dolphin pods. Very sad as the pacific should be teeming with life.

As the farty arsed males tried to hoick up the asymmetric to pick up speed a big rip tore through it so they took the mainsail down, using just the Genoa to stop us rolling so much. Finally nagged Ben enough to make brownies after a lunch of homemade soup and soda bread. We watched ‘The first man’ in the cockpit on the laptop as the starry night gathered…twas weird sensing there loneliness, far away from civilisation as we are feeling similar out here in the blue.

Day 13 and as I’m always up last either for my 9am shift or my 11pm 😴. I awoke to the 3 urchins making a bamboo booming out pole to get the sail further into the vind. Feeling bored today…too rolley to draw and don’t wanna disturb people with me whistle (Steph very kindly sent me a song to learn over whatssap so I must get it down by the time we arrive!) so watch the high seas narrated by David Attenborough and ‘Heal’ a film on natural healing. Put the engine on at 5.15pm when the rolling got too annoying…logs tied up with jellyfish again so we hand steer (which had me moaning) for a couple of hours…droid talks ben into pulling the log in from the inside creating a 2 inch hole in the boat which they plug up while de-testicalling. Works well so we are back on autopilot…thank da lordy🤩. Chilled night with one fisher boat light far in the distance. Droid kindly cleans da bathroom as I make bread and mooooreeee banana cake with our second stalk. The 20 pounds of squidgy raisins we vacuum packed have fermented and are blowing up like a balloon causing the floorboard to pop up and squeak as one was stored below. I repack in wax paper and paper bags…still edible…just! The bamboo pole gets worked on as it’s slipped during the night. As I’m cooking dinner, guys shout out there’s a UFO ..3 dots/stars in a direct from each other with a slightly bigger distance between the top and middle one and a streak of light guiding them down towards the sea….fecking weird…wish me dad was here to see it…he loves a good ol’ alien theory👽 . 2 fishing boats in the night...one coming vvverrrry close! I pickle beets along the way as they start to wrinkle and try to use up whatever fruit and veg is going off asap but there is still some wastage...mostly that that I vacuumed. We get some delish droid-ish meals as he shares dinner time cooking with me that I muchly appreciate. Andy manages an omelette 1 day and benny boi some pancakes. I feel pretty bored and depressed on day 16...can’t seem to pull meself out of it even though I baked ANOTHER cake…tried drawing (in 3 year old style) which helped a lot as droid cooked up a tuna they finally caught in a shoal of the jumping creatures. 3 more fishing boats from japan and South Korea…I dread to think what they are hunting for so far away from home with their huge search lights.

Next day was slow going 2-4knts…droid cooked up lots of tuna, games of backgammon and hummus made with weevily chickpeas! The line comes tight a few times as droid desperately 😉 tries for another fishy in his dishey but either the line, hook and/or the pole end up breaking…poor ol geeze aint got big enough equipment to catch these large ol boy’s…I’m pretty glad as the state of the ocean how it is …we should probably leave ‘em all where they are. He nearly caught the beautiful Dorado reeling it close to the boat…in the clear water we see it has 2 friends that have stuck with their mate...amazing site and we are all relieved when he/she breaks free. Our first 2 rainy squalls come that night giving us a soaking and allowing us to collect a few buckets. Perfect timing as I was just out of ‘underpants’ as Andy and Droid call em…lolz. Managed to keep in touch with our mums and get weather reports using a sat phone. They could also track our position which made us all feel a little safer. Wind picked up with 3 reefs in and a high swell on day 20. Woke up to find Andy and Droid making bread for Droids bacon-y treat…haven’t had bacon since I was at me mums as try not to eat it nowadays but it was bloody delish I gotta say! Massive wave hurled into the cockpit soaking me as I was about to eat dins...pretty lucky that the cocko’s normally dry so didn’t have much of that on da trip. We all showered about once a week by sitting on the foredeck and shoving buckets of sea water over us followed by a litre or 2 of fresh…really made a difference and alertness to the day after many greasy, salty, sweaty nights. As we started to play cards as the sun set Droid spotted our 3rd pod of dolphinos. The moon is nearly full now shining out some of the stars but giving us lots of light. Had our first gybe on day 23 after a rolly, uncomfortable night…only 56-ish hour to go before we reach land! Another gybe on the 24th day, cooking, reading and cards. Droid made chips which is a miracle achieved by Ben fixing up the oven! On day 25 everyone’s pretty jolly knowing we will arrive tomorrow…we hove to for dinner and float around until 12am when we start sailing again hoping to arrive at the anchorage for daylight. I spotted land around 2am on my night shift in the bright moon…gave Ben an extra half hour sleep as I finished my book knowing he’d be up till we were safely anchored. I was too excited to sleep at first but managed until 6.30am. When I looked out the window to see the land before time esk green ridges of Hiva Oa of the Marquesas island group!!

We sailed slowly in at 3-4knts spying rays in the water…wildlife at last!! Shadows texturize the hills as we round the corner seeing our first yachts in 26 days. Around 20 in the bay and a big tourist ship unloading its goods. We anchor by stern and bow to stop us swinging in the winds coming down the slopes and take a sweaty, wobbly, head spinny, 2.5mile walk into town. The gendarmerie is closed for lunch so we look at the extremely expensive artesian wares, get given mangos from a friendly police officer, munch some lunch before checking in at the gendarmerie. Buy some fruit as we still have 2 cabbages, 1.5 pumpkins, lots of onions and garlic left on board. Get pissed on the boat gobbling instant noodles for dinner (worst meal of our whole trip🤣). We spent 4 Days on Hiva Oa having a lil explore along the river, stumbling over colorful rock pools full of varied fishys, buying up fruit and veg from a bloke out of his truck and using the internet at the shack on top of the hill for £0.70p a day. I made vege grub for their weekly bbq attended by locals and cruisers. The language barrier is pretty hard to get through again…verrrrry stoooopid not to have learned some French on the crossing! Chat all night, crying with laughter at Jill off Mollyhawk who we met in Bahia...they took 40 days to get across from Ecuador with the mainsail and steering gear failing meaning they had to hand steer for about 20 days! She was saying how much she HATES hand steering…felt proper good to have some non-boy talk!!! Drank a liter of wine and ate a quarter of a veggie burger predictably leading to a slow day after. Our neighboring boat ‘Baloo’ gave us a loada fruit as they had too much after visiting Fatu-Hiva…very kind as haven’t found any fruit traders yet…I made them banana cake to say thanky. Me and Ben met up with Dave and Mikey off Perigee that me met in Panama for a sundowner as Droid cooked dinner and drank beer with Andy (I like this set up🤪). Up at 5.30am (except me who is gladly letting the real boatys get on with it while they’re here) left around 6.30am…fast sail at around 7knts to Fatu-Hiva arriving at 2pm. I’d rested down below most of the way as felt really knackered and a bit queezy so as everyone else rested when we got there I was the first to brave the ‘apparently’ (our guidebooks told us) sharky sea….felt delish to cool down in the dark green ‘bay of virgins’ which is rated as one of the most beautiful in the world! In Thors day he was warned not to land here at Hanavave village as many conditions such as elephantitis had infected the villagers. Today with a lot of French subsidy’s cute, colorful homes lay inside the valley along the river with amazing rock formations towering above. Walking ashore a bloke comes out and offers to trade fruit, we bring back some fishing line and some old sunglasses (which he doesn’t want as are far too small for his big ol ‘ead) and swap for pampelmousses AKA grapefruits on steroids. We stay with the boat as bens bumhole is quivering at the strong gusts blowing down the hills ready to drag us into another boat while Andy and Droid walk up to the waterfall. As the sun sets we spot our first pod of spinning dolphins performing their tricks out to sea…AmAzInG!! Chris and Maggily come over for a catch up who we met in Bahia to end our second night in the famed Fatu-Hiva. Next morning we paid for an aluminium speed boat to take us to Omoa (Thors valley in which he lived) along with Magali and fam and an American boat load. Valley is way more open with a beautiful, quaint wooden church. Provision at the small shop then trekked uphill for 2 hours or so before it levelled out…poor ol’ Droid thought he was gunna have a heart attack but the ‘old boi’s done swell...luncheon at some benches before following the road downhill. I chatted to Magily most of the way…she’s super positive and funny and was wikid to have a deeper conversation rather than boy talk. She’s on her way to New Zealand from France to start a new life with her husband Chris and 2 teenage daughters…Ben did a lot of…..wait a minute…have a guess…that’s the one…boat talk 🤣 with Chris so everyone was happy and entertained. (I don’t think Andy and Droid could talk…breathing too hard🤭) when we arrive back in Hanavave Ben, Chris and the girls swim out to get the dinghy’s so we can get back on board. Lazy arvo as everyone’s knackered after the 5 hour walk village to village.

In the morn me and Ben walk the hour up to the waterfall through a magical bit of woodland with a boulder stream. The waterfall is very high and impressive but just a sun glistening trickle as the usual rains have not appeared yet. Ben had a 0.5 second dip in the slightly stagnant, mosquito-y pool as I swiped at every flying thing coming near my sweet blood. Jack wasn’t in on our way back so Magali kindly took me there later and translated we wanted some avocados. Jack (in his 50’s or 60’’s) shimmied up the tree breaking dead branches off on his way and threw them for his wife to catch in a t-shirt stretched between her arms. They then gave us pampelmousse, papaya and yellow and green bananas. I swapped a pack of salami we didn’t want, litre of coke and gave them 500franks (£3.50) for the stem of green bananas. Gave Magali our breadfruit a local up a tree had given us earlier for helping us out.
Hand washing on the dock at 7am then picked up a French couple off their boat ‘Mars’ and motored to Omoa so we could have a better look at the village. French couple went off and did the walk back to Hanavave while we wandered around...local lady asked if we wanted to see Tapa which are Marquesan style paintings on beaten bark paper of all different sorts of trees. She walked us slowly to her dads house where Andy and Droid bout their fave ones. Continuing up the fruit laden valley we munched on fallen star fruit and mangoes before we reached the water reservoir in the river. We asked for a breadfruit (these can be cooked up like a potato when first picked) on our way back down at a random home which they happily gave us for free along with mangoes and more pampelmousse which we all love! Amazing people here…they are always in their gardens or socialising, music out of boom boxes, doing their craft and taking things easy. Lots of colored fisheys on our snorkel after lunch...in bed by 8.30pm! 🤓

Not good snorkeling weather in the morn as lots of rain in the night had clouded the water so we walk (stagger in crocs in my case) along the boulders close to the cliff to try and find the cave Thor stayed in. I was really not enjoying myself as feet kept slipping and I have shite balance...lost Andy and Droid and kept on for ages thinking they might have hurt themselves…getting to a point you couldn’t get round we turned back narrowly missing getting our heads caved in by a rock fall (there were signs warning us of falls) and found they’d turned back way before us taking the goat path above. Never found the cave but did find some amazing cowrie shells so that made me happy 😁. Motor back to Hanavave to take jack and his wife some banana cake and show Andy and Droid his wood carvings. Bit of time in the hammock by MYSELF (bliss) to appreciate this truly stunning, powerful island before Droid fried up breadfruit chips for dins with the last of his caught tuna. Awake again around 2am as was Droid…i remember this happening in Vilcabamba at Walters farm with the energy of the mountains and I’m pretty sure that’s what we’ve been experiencing here aswell….LOVE nature!!

Leaving at 7am to sail to Tahuata...i spent as long as poss in bed but the roll soon got too much...feeling a bit chattier today after my couple of hours alone yesterday. At around 6.5knts we arrive around 4pm in a white beach bay. Couple of days chilling, reading and snorkeling (only white beaches in these islands) seeing lots of different fish including the Angel fish...luckily no sharks yet. Rays are spotted off the deck, fried green bananas and curried beans for dins. Up at 5.30am to motor a couple of miles to vaietu bay where fresh baguettes have been promised...now this is something I’m willing to get up for🐷. Me and Droid leg it to the shop as soon as we are anchored and get ‘em straight out of the oven (Ecuador had NO decent bread) Explore the village after brekki…amazing stone and wooden church overlooking the sea! Walk up hill to a cross and get a wikid view of the bay. Pick up some wind fallen mini lemons and get given more pampelmousse by a local who calls us into his garden on the way down. Andy and Droid buy a massive sack of oranges and pampelmousse as we all pick up wifi in an actual restaurant! Arrange to meet Dave, Mikey and magali’s fam for dins which Droid kindly treats us to. Up early again to hike to the next village…Andy and Droid sail the boat around as we climb up and down the hills for 3 hours in fruits trees and some ancient gnarly woodland. Most of the limited cars that drove past asked if we wanted a lift…bloody lovely people!! Ben sawed his way through a green coconut we found and drank delish sweet water. Colorful parrot type birds in green, yellow and red let me take photos of em. Ben knocks a bread fruit of the tree which I expertly don’t catch but do run down the hill after it. Watch Andy and Droid anchor up as we descend into the village of Happatoni. We find the artisanal market selling there bone and wood carvings and ask around for Cyril who Magali said was a good carver. Friendly guy fully dressed, covered in an overall and work boots in around 30 degrees walked us up to Cyril’s where we were greeted by a smiling, neck to foot tattoo covered, healthy looking warrior man creating on his balcony! He was just waxing his latest project of a wooden manta ray inset with bone and carved with intricate Marquesan patterns…fuckin incredible!! He shows us his little work station where he uses a dentist machine to carve the bone, the different bones and horns he uses including marlin bills. Moving on to his box of beautifully created items me and Ben both find things we like and promise to bumble on back with Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Bens new names for Andy and Droid who do like to faff over decisions and any type of outing off the boat 😂) in tow. He gives us loads of lemons and promises a stalk of bananas when we come back in the cooler afternoon. After lunch I go back with Andy and Droid as Ben keeps an eye on the anchor in windy bay. Cyril’s wife was around this time displaying the wares more professionally, offering us fruit and water and making sure he don’t go too cheap on the deal...lolz. We make a deal on 6 items and he looks a bit worried about getting more small items carved (which he said are very fiddly for his giant fingers) ready for the bi-yearly trip to Tahiti but he’s soooooo super friendly and modest and one of the only fit people we’ve seen as most here are overweight or seriously skinny (old fishermen) He cuts us down 2 banana stalks from his land, more lemons and a breadfruit and tells me I’m welcome to come back so his wife can give me a cooking lesson in breadfruit! Dont get much better!!!! Back on the boat by 5pm and sail back to the white beach for a calmer, Ben friendly anchorage.

Up at 5.30am to Tack the 5 miles through a pass to Hiva-Oa…day of chores and supply gathering…ate so much bread and cake on the pacific we already need more flour but luckily its subsidized so get 25kg for £6!! Hitched a lift back, made breadfruit patties while the boys had a few drinkys for Droids last night. See Droid off at 10am as he gets a taxi to the tiny airport…gunna be a quiet ol’ babs without him and with just one cook on board now I’ll have to start eating more eggs(Andy’s go to). I use the internet to research boat insurance and speak to an old french bloke name ‘Joan de kat’ very interesting guy with 2 small boats, a house he built in Bora bora, a house in France and a piece of land he keeps his caravan on. He tells me with a lively smile on his mush how he’s an artist who carves and paints and made lots of money selling them to a hotel in Bora Bora. He has also written books of his sailing adventures. He draws a map of his atoll in Bora Bora and said we are welcome to visit him there…helllll yeah!!! Ben and Andy have been gluing the boat back together and making tonnes of fibre glassey mess so I stay away for the day. Aranui, the huge cargo/tourist cruise type ship comes in at 3am and the ol boat boys both get up to watch it dock🤓 I don’t even notice with me earplugs firmly in. Same again the next morning workwise. After lunch I help put the boat back together spring cleaning as I go.

On a mission now Droids gone as there is more space and more quiet to get up at 7am for meditation and exercise…feeling annoyed coz everyone in me space but I get it done...this annoyance carries on throughout the day...after washing clothes ashore we decide to chill till lunch as Bens feeling unmotivated. Excited to read me book but Andy keeps crashing around and trying to chat…eventually they go ashore for half an hour and my rage level chills out. As soon as a rather silent lunch is finished I get Ben to drop me at the beach so I can walk into town, ava swim and read in peace. Meet a cool American couple around our age that gave me some mangoes as there bag was too heavy with them all. Feeeels fuckin lush to have me own space and heart-warming to see all the locals out enjoying their Saturday arvo…bodyboarding, garden parties, boom boxes and socializing in public areas etc. When I get back I feel much better. Bens also talked to Andy and told him what sets off me to moody ol’ bitch rage…to be fair it’s the first time in almost 2 months that I’ve had a real grumpy day and felt a big big ol’ need for me own space. We have a yummerz dins and watch a film before beddy. Feel great in the morning for meditation and exercise…good ol’ poo so feel hungry for brekki which is unusual! The Mango the Americans gave us is bloody delish...after we take a circular route uphill to a set of chalets overlooking the bay, finding a thousand stringy but yummerz mangos on the ground on our way back down…Andy goes mad for em like a starved,wild beast…el mango beast! Spend the arvo starting this ere writings while the other 2 nap before making pizzas while they finish their gluey job. Feel proper peaced out sitting on in the cockpit as the sun goes down waiting for the dough to rise with a gin and lemon...posh ol’ geeze aint i😎.

These islands are very much like you might imagine paradise with green, clear, drinkable rivers, fruit laden valleys and impressive, strong peaks and edges. The water is full of life and a perfect temperature. Tourism is mostly limited to the Aranui that comes once a week and the cruising boats. The people are mega friendly with warm smiles and colourful clothes, many with tribal tattoos. We have about 6 weeks to explore the other 3 inhabited islands in the Marquesas before we head down the Tuamotos. Loving it lots and still missing ya’ll…sending many plop flavoured hugs to all you winners!! XxxXxxX

Part 2- Bens Paragraph, Banos, Quilotoa loop and kiting

03 January 2020
Amy Manning
Harmmmmmmaaans 3 weeks enjoying life without moi..

Ben in his own words took the ‘most amazing bus journey everrrr!!!!’ from Cuenca to Guayaquil…the scenery similar to what he would picture new Zealand to be followed by a night bus from Guayaquil back to Babs. Spent 4 or 5 days working on the gear box until it was finally finished but unfortunately it’s still rattling inside but nout more that can be done with it 🙈. Living on pasta and peanut butter sarnies (usual lone male Harman fare…minus Jo😜) he got lots of smaller jobs finito’d before returning to da kite school. Managed to kite every day as there weren’t too many lessons going on…lots of boozing and socializing with fellow instructors and volunteers. Everyone was surprised how quick he learnt to ride the foil, saying he was da best kiter at the school! Go on harm dog!! He managed to get a good deal on a foil and board from the neighboring school and managed to pay it off with his wages from the 4.5 weeks and selling one of his surf boards (that I bought him!) so he’s a proper happy chappy…on the inside...obvs you can’t tell from the outside 😂🤣😂🤣 There were some decent waves along the beach near our hostel which he muchly enjoyed with his surf board and kite. Told me he was ready for a change as it was pretty full on with no privacy or alone time at the school…everyone bunked in together and having to be on call ready for lessons every day even if there ended up being no one to teach…it soon came round and he was on 2 buses heading to Banos.

Waking up in Banos is pretty exciting as we head out to find some really decent bikes for $5 all day rental! We are given the map which is mostly downhill we were told…but we defo huffed up a few hills on the 18km one way road…felt bloody brilliant to be on a bike again! As we make our way along there are people doing ziplines across the valley and waterfalls you can see from the road...get off the bikes to walk 20mins down to Papillon diablo…an incredibly strong waterfall which if you crawl through a low cavern u can stand nearly underneath it and reach out to touch it (if you want ya arm blasted off!) Bike to the next one where we walk down again and swim in the crystal clear waters of its lower streams…tis like something out of a magic fairy story…feckin paradise..lil butterfly kept landing on bens back and hair. When he passed it to me it flew off and went to his stinky ol shoes...nut nut🦋. Long climb up the stairs back to the bikes, short ride back to papillon diablo where we shoved the bikes in a pick-up and got a lift back to town…ideal! Bus to Latacunga that night arriving around 9pm in a noisy, orrible looking town…chicken shop only thing that was open so chomp some down and straight to bed.

I’d decided to do the Quilotoa loop the ‘wrong’ way round as I didn’t fancy 6 hours of steep ascent on the last day so we got the bus to quilotoa village (a few dwellings on the edge of the volcanic lagoon) in the morning and found a hostel there so we could get acclimatised to the elevation at 3914m. I felt a bit out of breath and dizzy when we first walked up a tiiiiny slope to look at the lagoon…pretty epic turquoise waters...we decided to walk down which is about 50mins but really steep…way up was a killer (an American lady described it as ‘fucking brutal’ as we stopped to talk on our way down🤣)…I had to stop loads…somehow Ben powers on….dunno how he does it..hes been at bloody sea level for the last 3 weeks! Rain begins as we reach the top and have a scrummy cheese n potato soup. Really cold up here and nothing else to do so watch Vikings for rest of the arvo. 2 course dinner at the hostel which is included in the $15 price aswell as breakfast.

We leave around 8am as want to try and get to the next village before the afternoon rain jams down on us. Cloudy day but we could see the lagoon as we walked half way around the crater to take the trail down. Using MapsMe app was very helpful together with signs and colored markers. Took the ‘Extreme’ path when we had a chance as it involved less road...steep downhill to the river then an hour or so uphill to Chugligan. Started raining as we arrived and still pretty chilly. Fed our faces a hot chocolate and played pool and table football in the games room...real good 3 course vege meal-also inc in the $15 price. Talk to travelers over dinner going the other way before playing ping pong with an English gal.

Huge brekki at 7am before we set off from Isinlivi…first couple of hours downhill to the same river…sunny day so views of the green hills are splendiferous! Keep bumping into 2 others walking the other way as we climb a steep ascent for the last couple of hours. Pretty glad to arrive after 4.5 hours but enjoyed it majorly!! Book ourselves into a slightly more expensive hostel as it had a free spa and yoga classes. I felt really knackered so had a lil lay down until spa time. Another amazing vegetarian dinner then straight to bed in our dorm...which was an open loft space under the rafters with thatch roof and mattresses on the floor…comfiest, cosiest bed iv slept in ages!

Last day of hike and we are told it’s the easiest...up at 7am for yoga class in a window lined room overlooking the garden and hills. Leave straight after breakfast following our written map from the hostel...downhill back to the valley floor and river before a gentle slope uphill for the last couple of hours…round the corner of the top of the hill to find Sigchos town tucked in behind the peak…feel quite sad that this beautiful, challenging adventure is over! Really, really bloody loved it and am very up for more multi day hikes in dis world …Find bus and buy some maize tortillas for the ride back to latacunga...grab our large bags we left at the hostel..1.5 hour bus straight to Quito and wait 3 hours for our night bus watching Vikings…soooo addicted!

Ben had a dodgy gut on the bus (we’re blaming the prawns he ate at the bus station even though we both ate them ()) but he held it together and only started puking and shitting when we got back to the boat🤮💩 …I slept till 12pm before going for food supplies and cooking up lasagna…it’s been too long! Ben resting for arvo, feeling a bit better the next day so gets to work cutting off our rotten kitchen worktop as I do some hand washing. I varnish the solar panels and we take the oven to the machinist so he can undo some rusty bolts that have broken off…Bens belly ruff again so spends the night on the sofa close to the bog. Spend the next 3 days cutting new worktop, fitting it and the stainless steel on top of that. Oven is fixed and have ordered some new insulation from ebay so hopefully it will get a bit hotter. Boat is unbelievably chaotic with shit fecking EVERYWHERE...only one bench to sit or do anything on🙈. We were both downstairs one arvo when we heard the neighbor shouting us…looked out and saw the dingo had floated away…who tied it up…hmmmm not the newbie sailor nope nope…the one and only grew up on a boat yard, sailed all his life Harm dawg! Mwahahhahahahha…I will happily hold onto this memory with reminders to Benny boi at appropriate times for the rest of me life!😉 Finally finish and clear da boat up…feels sooo good and make it to our English neighbours boat for 8pm…they crack open the red wine which we don’t normally drink but i will drink whatevs right now as I haven’t had a proper drink in about 6 weeks! Proper interesting hearing their stories… been cruising for 40 years and brought up 3 kids onboard a 44foot boat! Didnt get back to Babs till 2am ben trying to force feed me toast and water which I rudely and stoopidly declined!

Predictable headache in the morning but we rush around packing and getting boat ready to leave for the 10am bus to Manta, arriving in Santa Marianita around 1.30pm…Ben jumps out at the beach as he has lessons booked while I head to the Soga hostel…bus ride was slightly difficult feeling bit sicky suzie and talking to Ozwaldo the hostel owner was effort…so as soon as me new volunteer job was explained I had a 2 hour nap before me 5pm shift. Easy 3 hour shift helping with dinner for about 14 people. Oswaldo learnt to be a chef in America so great English and fab grub! Both lame out of the party at the hostel as feeling totes knackered...sleep easily through the loud music that apparently went on till 2am👵👴. So my deal is to work 3 hours for brekki and me bed…the breakfast is soooo good- eggs, 2 cheese toasties in croissant type bread, bowl of fruit, green tea and a fresh juice! () Other meals are $1.75 but he only cooks if guests are munching. Bens getting $15 an hour for teaching kitesurfing but has to pay $5 a night for his bed and $1.75 for all meals. The first couple of days at the hostel Oswaldo’s other volunteers didn’t show up so I get more shifts which will go towards our other meals. Work consists of kitchen work, cleaning guest rooms and sometimes looking after the hostel if Ozzy is out for a while. Bens day starts around 10am at the kite school and is pretty busy till 5pm with lessons..i join after my shift around 2pm…wind has been good enough to kite every day. Massive swell for a couple of days scared me off with waves crashing on the beach. Treated meself to a Pina colada which he asked if I wanted it normal or strong...you can predict my or any sane persons answer…got me nicely on me way as I face-timed mum and played cards with a gal ben is teaching while her b/f and ben were out having a lesson. Treated ourselves to pizza at an expensive restaurant on the beach front when they got back.

Christmas eve is the main celebrating time when they have their meals etc ere…we are given meal tickets as part of Bens board exchange to Ocean freaks (other kite school) dinner which would have been $25 for all you can eat buffet and 2 glasses of vino. So after me shift and a kite...i got on the Pina colada and spoke to a Canadian bloke who was staying right near us for a few weeks…everyone else joined soon enough and grub started coming in for Javier’s meal at Kite Ecuador (our kite school) Felt bad we were going to the other one as looked like quite a party ere and Jav insisted we try the famed mango tuna and a glass of wine…very kind of him as he can be a bit grumps😜. Leaving to walk into the other school and find no-one but us had turned up…felt right sorry for the organizers but still yumz food and we had a laugh…soon after munching we scamper back to kite Ecuador to find the others…partying at the hostel till 4.30am playing very funny drinking games. Next day is a Netflix day with a walk to kite Ecuador for a burger and to collect me bag. This contained the room key…ben had to break in by unscrewing bamboo from our window to release the flynet to get into beddybyes the night before🙈👌 . Couple more days at the beach where I have to clean red wine puke (someone elses!🤮) out of a room. As I blow up Bens 12m kite we find the valve is leaking so we stay an extra night kipping on the floor in Javier’s room while it gets replaced. Have a sesh on his 9 kite and loose me ugly as fuck but very useful kiting glasses being pummeled by waves trying to get through the break. Returned with creased eye sunburn which Shea butter worked wonders on overnight. Leave the beach to return to Babs getting the taxi to stop in manta to search for Antifoul. Back on Babs by late arvo as we uncover her letting in the light after 6 months of darkness and wash her dusty deck. Feels exciting to be getting ready to move for the next adventure😁 . Next 3 days leading up to new year’s eve is full on with jobs…I’m pickling beets, making sauerkraut, pesto for the freezer and planning the dry goods stock we’ll need for the next 10 months as weeeeellllllll expensive in Polynesia. Bens getting lots of jobs done puting the sails back on, getting the seamstress to sew up various bits, generally putting the boat bk together. We wash and vacuum pack the kites and boat covers and start researching what’s cheapest where in the many different shops and 2 supermarkets in Bahia. We are totes knackered for New Year’s eve but drag our old man arses out for midnight, walking along the prom to see every other person letting off fireworks and burning their effigies in the street (these are in all sorts of shapes- Pokemon, sonic, superheroes, animals etc.) which is symbolizing doing away with the old you and bad things from last year and bringing in the new fresh n clean. Women with boiling cauldrons of fruit juice which they added to a couple of inches of cane alcohol attracted us to them and it was gooooood shit! Still in bed by 2am though!😎
Went to Manta yesterday for boat bits and to start the mahoosive food shop buying things not available or cheaper than in Bahia...got 8.20am bus in and 8.20pm one back out. Feeling tired but accomplished as we ticking fings off da list. Only got 2.5 days until Andy and Droid arrive to come adventuring across the pacific with us 😁.I gotta say I’m pretty bloody excited to cross another ocean and visit these magical islands.

Ecuador Summery....

Bit sad to leave as Ecuador has been truly incredible...i highly recommend comin ere if you aint already.

The people compared to the Caribbean are not in your face friendly but as soon as you say hello or smile they with sincerely return it. And if you speak Spanish it would be a completely different and better experience.

The buses are clean, cheap and generally on time, some are a bit rickety and loud with many stops if you travel by daytime but the seats are comfy with plenty of legs pace and a toilet on the longun’s.

The scenery is varied as are the temperatures for such a small country…u can travel to the humid Amazonian rain forest, cloud forest nearer the coast with an incredible variety of birds, The cooler Andes travel right along the country so plenty of hiking and the tallest mountain has a glacier and snow on the top. The beaches we have seen are decent enough but I wouldn’t come here if beach holidaying is all you wanna do.

To eat local Ecuadorian food out is very cheap with 2-3 course lunch around $2. Markets are pretty cheap with the supermarkets similar to England.

Hostels are $4 at the cheapest for a dorm room.

The indigenous tribes still hold onto their culture and clothing in the mountains which is really cool to see. Locally made markets can be found around the country with alpaca, leather goods etc.

Santa Marianita is a very decent kiting spot (the only one though in Ecuador) if ya don’t mind the chop!🙈

Only bad point I can find bout this place and it might just be me it annoys….Ecuadorians have no sense of queuing…always blatantly walking straight in front of you…and no sense of space..i’ll walk right up to people who are totally blocking a path or supermarket isle and they won’t move even though they see me till I say excuse me or they move vvvveeeeerrrrrry slowwwly! Feckin annoying😠

But don’t wanna end on a bad point so I wanna thank this beautiful, diverse country for all that it has taught me and healed me from blocked past emotions…meeting all these different people and experiencing their lives, working the land and joining in ceremonies and sessions have deeply affected me in a way i had hoped this country and time on the land would. I feel excited and positive about being on the boat again and hope as many as you as poss can come out and join the adventure…💚🧡💛💙

Huge lovin’s and the happiest new year to all you mega fanny faces..xxXxxxxXxx

Cuenca and Amy goes jungelling

23 December 2019
Amy Manning
Part 1...

As usual we end up spending more time on the boat than planned trying to get the gearbox to Bens satisfaction. After a few unusual symptoms the hypochondriac pays da doctor some dollars to examine her lower regions…after an internal scan they find 15 cysts on me left ovary…conversing over google translate he prescribes me the birth control pill and a drug for diabetes. I decide not to take these after some research and talking to friends n fam so am trying the natural route- meditating ‘n taking supplements, cinnamon and less (a bit🙈) sugar. 2 months on and I’ve had no more obvious symptoms and me period turned up at its regular time so feeling pretty positive bout it.

Just before our bus to manta I decide the fishy soup in a restaurant near the boat looks worth a try...Bens not so sure but I talk him into it…bad move for 2 ppl who aint overly keen on fish as the broth is extremely fishy with lumps of tuna fillet in it. Its redeeming features are the coriander, lemon and onion with Aji (homemade hot salsa) on the table to dump in it. Be very delightful for a fish munching human (Droid?😜). We have to get a bus from main terminal in manta to the central market. Ben gets some cash out there as I walk to find the van to take us to the beach….instead I find a local in a very expensive 4 by 4 waving to me. He then tells me that it’s very dangerous to walk around here when the market is closed (tis a Sunday) so he offers us a lift. Have a wee chat as he calls his receptionist for advice on where to find our truck...spot it a few mins later around the other side of the market. Thank him and make our way 20mins south to Santa Marianita. Chuck gear out at Soga hostel before walking 20mins along the beach to the kite school. Get some grub and a drink-mixture of beer and bloody mary- utterly foul…couldn’t finish it and no one else wanted it!🤢 Great sleep in a noisy, bamboo room-tis the cheap room he normally keeps for volunteers but comfy n clean...delish brekki cooked by hostel owner before my first downwinder!!!! We set up outside the hostel and kite a mile downwind to the kite school. Felt really good managing small jumps and feeling at one with me new harness and Bens 12m kite. Couple more days kiting and hanging out with a proper friendly English guy who’s kiting and runs a sea kayak school in the Scottish isles. Walk further along the beach to another kite school called Ocean freaks to chat bout buying a foil board…Harm dogs pretty keen so will hopefully make a deal!🤩 Pay $62 for 2 ppl-3 nights, breakfasts, dinners and 4 drinks…not too shabby. After a bit of strange energy with Javier(kite school owner) he seems very keen to have Benny boi come and teach so its decided that he’ll come back after a week in Cuenca while I carry on and head to the jungle for mas volunteering. On way back to Bahia we stop int manta to renew our 3 month visa for another 3 months. We are slightly late due to Javier wanting Ben to do a practice run giving his g/f an advanced kite lesson. So all a big rush, at first going to the wrong place then having to go to the bank to pull out the cash, waiting in a que for half hour…just made it as they are getting ready to leave….wupdifeckindoo.
One day back on the boat repacking for Cuenca, mega busy, washing off kite gear, gear boxing and making papaya jam for an experiment to see how long it keeps without a setting agent.

Night bus to Guayaquil then 4am bus to Cuenca. Bit of brekki from a lil stall then last hour bus to Vegaspamba arriving at the Oasis eco resort around 11am. Louis gave us a tour of the house and the beautiful Quebrada (mountain stream). Green house on the top floor of the house with tonnes of not so healthy tomato plants. Delish lunch of Aubergine Parmesan….Lois is a chef so should be fappy (fat+happy) days…be a change being cooked for! Met Nancy who’s staying for a weekend break and is Lois’s business partner…real kind lady in her 70’s who’s done lots of voluntary work and was in the Peace Corps. I made us all dins as Louis doesn’t munch at that time of day and got to the kip. Got up on our first morning to do a 21 day meditation course Dee had sent me…felt like it gave me more energy throughout the day which was need as louis had us trudging buckets of water from the main rain water tank to the smaller one which feeds the guests wooden lodges…had to fill it right to the top and twas massive. I then helped Louis in the kitchen as it was the opening day of his restaurant...made a shit loada pizzas and focaccia bread….Ben chopped tonnes of wood for the fires before munching tonnes of pizza as no guests had showed…happy days! It turned into a very unhappy day though when we heard louis and Cattys 3 year old girl screaming outside in the yard...the new street dog had bit her on the arm...Catty rushed the girl to the docs as he slightly pierced the skin while Louis went outside...i heard the dog yelping and assumed he had hit it…Ben came in later and told me not to go outside to our room as Louis had hung the dog from the shed. I was flooded with emotions and couldn’t keep them in which is unlike me…felt so terrible I hadn’t done something to try and save him and just kept hearing the yelping in my head. (Am crying again now writing this)…kept breaking down for the rest of the day...Ben trying to comfort me...couldn’t face louis...i can kinda see why he had done it to protect his daughter but I thought he should have let him back out on the streets…he admitted he was a cat person and this was his first ‘pack’ of dogs (he has 3 others) he clearly doesn’t know what to do with them, Should have trained it and not left his small daughter alone with him 3 days after picking him off the streets. Fucking shit situation!

By the morning I felt a bit better and meditation helped. Louis has a project moving rocks in the Quebrada so his guests can come down and pan for gold and precious stones. Got Benny boi helping him while i weeded and transplanted savoy cabbage to another bed. Took the hour bus to Cuenca city as it was the festival of independence that weekend. 40 min walk to the guesthouse where we greeted by a jolly, hilarious bloke with a big fappy gut 🎅. Walked downhill to the river running through the town. Really beauts city compared to the others in Ecuador….has a french kind of architecture with cobbled streets. River banks were alive with people and craft stalls which I loved looking round…ben not so much 🤣. Rain pushed us into a restaurant before crawling into bed by 9am..just as the other hostellers were getting ready to go out and party…wot has happened to me! Kind owner gave us a free brekki and apologised for the higher room fee due to the festivities. Walked back into town and along the river to an amazing green park where 2 rivers meet...loads of kids activities, trees and pure, green grass!

The next 5 days ben was given specialist jobs like fitting lights and gutters while I watered and tied up toms in the greenhouse, cleaned cabins and both moved more water. I spent a lot of time researching my next workaway project with a very smoochy lil dog Sophie on me lap. Still hadn’t one farm confirmed and only a week left in Cuencs.!😲 Trouble was a lot of the jungle placements wanted you to pay for food which obvs I don’t want to do as that aint the usual deal with workaway. Or I needed to speak Spanish to go deeper into the jungle. We had a bit of a non-agreement with Louis about our days off but I got me way in the end (which was the fair one😜) Had a real great time painting a room white (even though white sucks Arrrrse) I could put me music on and dance around with no one else around. Weekend again and we have a boring day travelling around Cuenca to find boat bits…twas lightened up by an Arepa lunch and local sweet purchasing🐷. Bit of a lay in on Sunday before louis drives us to the local zoo…Ben proclaimed it was the best zoo he’s ever been to! And it was pretty cool…big enclosures for most animals like the Andean bears and metal netted tubes for the monkeys to have long runs. Apparently they are all rescued animals and they release around 20% if the animals are up to living in the wild. Took us 3 hours to walk the loop going up the hill and back down again. Taxi back to Cuenca and we say Ta-ra as Ben gets his bus to Guayaquil on way back to the boat and kite beach.

Raining so I make a quick dins and have an uneasy sleep scared by the ‘dark’ lolz…tis a while since iv slept by meself! Sharon came to stay with her crazy lil white poodle. Was really nice having someone chatty and friendly to talk to, she brought a fun, honest light to the day and was very interested in our sailing adventure. A massive thunderstorm crashed overhead so I missed the 3pm bus…waited outside for nearly 2 hours till next one came along to meet Christina (Spanish teacher friend we’d met at the Vilcabamba workaway) she introduced me to a Cuenca special in da delish form of a hot, cinnamony alcoholic bevvy! Stayed in a hostel (with no toothbrush etc) for the night as missed me last bus back which was at 7.30pm! Managed to swap me book which was a mega bonus🤓. Alarm went off at 5.16am (bit of OCD still hanging around in me forcing a 6 which is me lucky/fave number at the end of me alarm time…or an even number at the very least!) Quick march to the bus station with no map as phone had run out of batt...bus filled with school kids that I climbed over to get out at me stop…earlier than I normally am for 7.30am brekki...pretty impressed with meself 😁. Next couple of days were pretty rainy as I finished me painting…heavy weather caused a landslide from the main road onto louis’s track down to the river… we fished the rocks out of the ditch as locals got to work up top...trying to prevent more from tumbling down. Louis treated me and sharon to a yummy dinner with homemade choc mousse for pudding as he was cooking for 2 guests in the cabin. Quick pack up after brekki the next day...Louis drives the guests back to town and drops me off at the bus station. I hopped on the 10am bus to Banos…amazing views as the hills turned green… ..looking truly wild, similar to new Zealand. Feeling good in meself that I was independent and on me way to the ‘adventure capital’. 2 men came and sat behind me and were eating feckin disgustingly! I looked around and saw his mouth open mid chew with stalagmites/tites from each lip… ‘fucking gross’ fell out of me mouth before shoving my earplugs in before I went insane. 4 hours in I noticed my phone and camera weren’t in my bag...instant thought was that I had left it at louis’s but knew I had been very thorough packing…felt shit for the rest of the journey and a bit panicky as I tried to remember if id packed them….to top it off a smiley lady in traditional dress sat next to me and started to eat a yogurt pot with a tiiiinnnnnyyy spoon…as she shoved in a hundred gross mouthfuls she managed to flick yogurt on my bare arm with only a slight look over of acknowledgement and then another splatter on my leg and seats in front of us which she didn’t bother to wipe off and I watched dry over the last couple of hours bus ride…y cant people just eat normally without flicking their grub everywhere and making gacky noise…uggghhhhh!. Got off at Ambatto and chatted to an English speaking traveller that had also come from Cuenca and we manage to find the bus to Banos together.

An hour later and I’m searching for the hostel without maps.me aid…find it and get straight on their handy computer to get in touch with ben and louis to see if I left me gear there. Me bank card didn’t work so used my last £2 on dinner hoping that I just had to transfer some cash over. Back at the hostel twas a real comfy bed in a dorm room with personal curtains all around the bunk and a reading light…I like 🤗. Spend the next day on and off the comp…trying to figure out if me insurance will be any good…nope..way too complicated and have to pay large excess, find lunch in the small town of Banos and walk 10 mins to the thermal pools right next to a tall waterfall that you can see from the town…really gorge town surrounding by green hills and a river running along the edge with mini waterfalls cascading into it. There are many agents selling adventure activities and it feels like a place where ya could have a good ol booze up…wishing Ben was ere and we could go sit in the sun with a couple of bevvys…instead I sign up for cannoning the next day which the hostel has on offer for only $15…always wanted to try cannoning so proper excited. Start at 9am with 4 other people…after a short truck ride we repel down our first waterfall with another group coming on behind us…the guides took a million pictures as we repelled down a 2nd waterfall..,the 3rd we slid down like a slide and the 3rd we dropped our bums over the edge as the guide dropped us down a 70 foot waterfall catching us tight before we hit the rock below…nearly didn’t catch the last guy in time so pretty bloody dodgy! Mega fun and found a jungle placement had confirmed when I got back to the hostel…wahoooo! Spent the arvo taking a bus up the hill to the Casa de Arbol where they have swings going over the edge of the hills…really busy and didn’t look too thrilling so I did the mini zipline and looked at the views without me camera 😫. Worked out the guys behind me on da bus musta pulled me bag underneath to steal the stuff as I had me legs folded on the seat for a while…very sttoooopid…never had anything nicked in all me years backpacking!

Love this place so decide to come back here with Ben to do the bike ride to waterfalls. Awake early the next day to get the 3 hour bus to Tena…hugged me bag the whole way. Amazing green hills and valleys for the first half turning into flatter jungle as far as the eye could see. Spend one night in Tena to try and buy a new phone...very friendly hostel owner gets his son to drive me around to help translate and find me a decent phone deal. Got one sorted and spent the eve speaking to German roommates and cooking up me fave tomato pasta. After faffing with a phone issue the next morn the hostel owner rang my next host for me who came to ‘pick me up’ which actually meant meeting me then I pay for a taxi to get us to his place 40 mins away…woulda been a lot cheaper to get a bus…my next lovely surprise was that he didn’t speak a word of English even though he said he did in his profile…so a week of google translate awaited us 👍. He lived alone (in his profile it sounded like his cousins etc lived with him but they were actually up 15min walk up the track) put me in a room right opposite him and with no lock on me door I felt pretty vulnerable as he kept touching me shoulder or waist all evening even though I looked annoyed and moved away from him...uneasy night! Woke up safe n sound at 6.15am…turned out he had had the shits..that’s why I could hear him moving about all night. Spent me first work morning cleaning guest rooms as it was a sort of eco-jungle resort although it looked like it hadn’t had guests in a while. Stitched some netting together with a homemade wooden needle that I later broke!🙈 After cooking him lunch he told me I would be the cook which suited moi...we had a swim in the muddy jungle river that flowed past his home…soooo refreshing in the muggy heat and a relief to the hundreds of itchy bites from lil black bugs. I asked him where the Anacondas and Cayman were hiding…unfortunately the locals had eaten all the big mammals and reptiles in this particular river...id have to go deeper into the jungle to find wild treasures like dem.

Caesar went into town the next day so after me 2 hour task of shifting earth and sand I made a big lunch and chilled in a hammock reading for the rest of the day…his mega soppy, attention starved cat would leap on me as soon as I sat or laid down…was nice to have my own little personal friendy. A spider tickled me finger as I went to unlock me door…well scared it had bitten me as poisonous spiders here…ceasar sucked on my finger to draw out any poison-equally gross! But I was thankful!🤣 Went to town the next day to get a sim card as no wifi there and I thought ben/mum might be worried as I hadn’t been in touch for a few days and I was desperate for some easy, comforting communication. The hostel I used before let me use there wifi so got meself sorted...had one of my fave Ecuadorian grubs for lunch-vegetarian ceviche consisting of cold chocho beans, toasted, crunchy corn kernels, fried plantain crisps, pickled red onions and tomato with lemon juice and coriander…bloody mouth-watering! Massive thunderstorm crashed overhead as I crept in me mosquito net for an early night back at Campococha. Another day of easy tasks as Caesar went to town again to study for his driving test. The next day I was going out on a boat tour with his brother…twas really good. He made me a little seat for the thin, wobbly canoe and we set off downriver to an animal sanctuary. Paid the doller and joined a group of ENGLISH speaking tourists and guide! Was amazing to be able to talk and listen, understanding so easily after 5 days of barely communicating. The sanctuary also released the animals if possible after rescuing them from poachers, circus’s etc. The canoes engine died a couple of times in the fast flowing river so they stopped to fix it. Glad I got me hat coz the sun is a blazing! Next stop was through a small family homestead who gave us a small amount of meat for a doller wrapped in a leaf to feed the Caymans in the lagoon on their property. Then back up the adjacent river to watch part of a football match in riverside village….kids playing in the river and everyone out to watch the game. Back home for lunch, chill, swim and read in the arvo…a hummingbird flying into my room at one point!
My task for the last day was to copy about 30 sheets of Spanish text onto his computer…after 6 hours id only managed 12 as well hard to do it fast in another language. I leave dinner out for him as he’s back late and have to ask him to turn his music down which he was blaring out of his phone at 11pm…that’s late in the dark jungle...honest! 🙈😂🤓

Up at 6.10 to shower and finish packing…no sign of Caesar so I had to leave without saying goodbye (I did email him to say thanks etc) as had a long journey and didn’t wanna arrive to me next placement too late. Walked 20 mins down the track to the main road and was on a bus to Quito at 10am eating banana cake for brekki 🐷 5.5 hours later I arrive in Quito then a 3 hour ride to Santa domingo stopping for dinner on the way. Taxi to samsara, having to stop at a restaurant to ask directions…luckily bloke spoke English and hopped in the taxi to show us the way. This place I chose as it is a community full of young people with English speakers…be cool to see how people more our age are living this green life and it’s also in hilly jungle terrain. Charlotte met me from the taxi and we walked 10mins uphill to their finca...everyone was sitting on the deck under a stubby table munching dinner…I had a tiny bit as not really hungry but pig as I am had to try it 😋. was one of the guys birthdays so had healthy fruit and nut balls for pudding. Everyones speaking Spanish around the table which is a bit disappointing but Charlotte who is from the USA keeps me in the loop translating. Charlotte said we just get up when we want which is defo the wrong thing to say to me who will happily sleep till 12pm…mehehe. But I get up eary-ish and do some yoga on their spiritual platform…Charlottes boyfriend Christian works the farm which is part of his parents land and is a Hare Krishna so they have a shrine for the gods and lots of beautiful, funky murals the volunteers have painted everywhere. Spent the morning helping Charlotte paint her bamboo sleep tent with diesel to keep the bugs away and helped make lunch. Really great Columbian cook here who made guatita (a peanutty stew with potatoes) with gluten as this is a vege community. I sanded the kitchen walls ready for another mural in the arvo then walked down to the road where they have a little restaurant with wifi. Everyone sitting round the fire after dinner but talking Spanish so I head up to me tent on the ledge and watch me downloaded Netflix. Housework jobs the next day. Charlotte showed me this amazing fruit...is a little red bean similar to a coffee bean with a massive seed in the middle…u suck it until left with the seed …strange but yummerz taste left in your mouth...tried a sour fruit and a maracuya and the sourness had vanished leaving the sweet, magical taste of the fruits…truly bloody amazing! We helped pick a bush plant called biblico and stuffed it in a sack to give to Christians friend who is a naturopathic doctor. Then Christian climbed a tree and with a hook on a long pole sent round hard pods hurtling down the hill to us to collect…they use the insides for black dye and later painted tattoo like patterns on themselves.

Charlotte later showed me the way down to the sacred spring where I clayed up me body before rinsing off with a calabash bowl, leaving a flower as an offering in this spiritual site. Finally got hold of ben on facetime…over 2 weeks since we’ve spoke to each other properly and have missed him like never before! Which must be a good sign😜💚. Went to the nearby empanada restaurant with charlotte and Christian for din dins. Spent 2 hours grating loads of yuka the next day for patties to sell in the restaurant…no customers turned up so we munched them all and played jenga with some of their friends that came by and stayed the night. Met a friendly local gal who spoke English as had lived in Russia for the last 7 years and just returned wondering what to do with her life. Couple of days later I go to Santa Domingo town to see where they buy bulk goods from...pretty interesting and wish we had a shop like that in Bahia…on drive out I see Pierro’s (guy who's a long term volunteer at the finca) face grinning back at me from a bus stop poster...find out a guy came up to him and asked if he could take his picture for a book he was bringing out….Pierro then later walks past this massive poster of himself not even advertising anything…fecking hilarious!
We’d swept and brought up wood in preparation for the Temazcal ceremony to be exchanged for a gals mural who had arrived the night before. They kindly let me and the other volunteers join in for free as normally $10 but I don’t have enough cash on me. Charlotte lets me know what to expect and we all get changed into swim gear...the rain starts and Leo (volunteer-great chef) douses us with herbal smoke…women go in first, walking with our right hands out (I slip on the mud right onto me arrrrseee()) around the fire under which lays the molten rocks. We then get on our hands and knees and put our heads to the ground saying an intention, thanks etc…crawling on the earth floor we crawl clockwise around a candle to our positions against the domed, weaved walls. Finally everyone is in…not much space to move and if we want to lay down if feeling light headed it is in a foetal position close up to thy neighbours. Christian starts speaking and thanking mother earth and saying an intention…we go round the circle all doing this as the boiling rocks are put in a pit in the middle and herbal water is splashed over them…then singing starts up as I sweat like never before…it’s hard to breath as the steam fills your nose burning ya lil snotty hairs. After 20 or so mins we get outside for a break most people laying on the wet muddy earth by the fire or taking a cold shower. We do this another 2 times…the 2nd time I feel a bit sick but get through it. Pretty intense and powerful experience and am really grateful for them letting me be a part of it. After, I drink a litre of water, say goodbye to everyone and head to beddy. Up early before anyone in the morning as its time to go meet da Harmonator...pretty excited and finally a taxi comes along and gets me to the bus station. Couple of buses later I’m back in Banos to the same wikid hostel and find Ben in our room 😊

….will carry on this blog as part 2 so it aint too long with Bens adventures, our time in Banos and the Quilotoa loop…get up there!!

Mummatron becomes a farmer for 3 weeks

22 October 2019
Amy Manning
A man cold decided to ravage Benny boi’s body just as Cam and Bap turned up to come and stay on the boat for a few nights…he manned up pretty swell though and all managed to go sup surfing after their first night aboard down the local beach. After lunch Cam started to feel a bit sea sick as the boat rocks a bit at high tide so they left to find a hotel leaving us to prep for beached Babs scenario the next morning. Ben waited up till 10.15pm so he could go set an anchor on the sand bar and we finished the Black sail’s series…very good, happy ending pleased ma facial expressions. Up at 5.30am to motor over and pick up the anchor rope. Ben pushed Babs with the dingo so she was facing the right way ..arse in the air. I read me book as the tide dropped before scraping the barnacles off while Ben took the prop off, cut a hole in the rudder to pull out the shaft and plugged de hole so no sinky happenings going on. Wandered around the sand bar and found 3 sand dollars-proper magical looking beings. Babs floated again and we got back on the moorings. Met Cam and Bap on the tiny beach for a couple of drinks then pizza back on board before we all flopped by 10.30pm. Me, Cam and Bap went to canoa (surf town) the next day while Ben got shaft straightened and snotted himself dry. We just ended up walking and munching veggie burgers as it was cold and the waves looked not so swell!🍔 Cam and Bap gave us 2 friendship bracelets they’d made as we said ta-ra and they got on a bus to continue their travels. Spent another day getting shaft done and chilling before time to go back on the sand and shove it right back in….poor ol babs! All went smarmy like and we were floating again by the evening. Chores and exercising over the next couple of days…one of my jobs was cleaning out 2 old, 5 gallon oil canisters which I took into the showers washing out with fairy liquid and bleach (1 month later we arrive back and they are mouldy inside!). Ben put in both gear boxes and we tested them…both still sound pretty shiza…gaaaahhhh!. Packed the SUPs away and washed sides with fresh water. Neighbours keep loading their gear onto us willing takers...the latest being 2 billion paper charts which ben is enjoying looking through (and talking about and pointing out different islands while I’m trying to watch a film..lolz) Last job was a plastic bag over the propeller which Ben had to dive down for in the murkey water...he not like 🙃

After 2 weeks back at the boat it’s finally time to get back to farrrmminggg!😁 Neighbors gave us a lift ashore as the manager had forgot to come get us...he kindly gave us a lift to the bus station to make up for it though👌 10.30pm…defo regretted saving $2 on the on the cheaper bus…it was sooo bumpy and freeeezing...not many people onboard though so could spread out our limbys. Very happy to arrive at Quito’s northern bus terminal 6.5 hours later. Wearing 4 layers we downed a hot chocolate and shared an empanada before walking the 50mins to our hostel. Shown to a room with 3 double beds to shares with Mummsy. Roamed around town before a 2 hour nap and a bus to the airport to pick up la Mama. Great to see her smiley chops…not sure she was too impressed with my cheap motel choice😂 sleepy time by 9pm for all! Up at 8.30 and straight onto the bus to the terminal-2 hour bus to Otavalo-quick bitta lunch and a traipse round the block before a 2 hour ride though the curving., green hillsides to the little village of Apuela. Kerry, (Farm owner) Boris and Daniella (couple of long-term volunteers from France and Venezuela) met us. First sight of Kerry was him laughing his head off with a few locals who seemed to be enjoying his company. Picked up a few supplies then drove 15mins to the farm…5 mins of that was twisting our way up an extremo steep drive up the mountain that Kerry had put in a couple of years ago.
Had a tour of the farm and showed to our rooms-mums had a new wooden floor put in while we had plastic sheeting over earth..curtains replaced doors and windows (to mums slight horror-specially as hers was the less private room that people walked past constantly) but the beds were very comfy and cozy with blankets and clean sheets. We met Leo and Sarah-2 other volunteers from Switzerland over dinner. Daniella had made Arepa’s, (kinda like a fat, round, corn pitta bread that u stuff with goodies) a Venezuelan staple which were bloody delish. Everyone was very welcoming with lots of fun and laughter round the table. Bit cold at night (pissed Ben off quite a lot by putting my freezing tootsies on him…surely that’s the whole point of having a boyfriend!😁) but we invited the cat in and soon warmed up. Brekki at 7.30 and Kerry had made some fat ol’ American, blueberry pancakes..yes ma sonny jim! Ben got to work wiring a light up in mums room while we cut off dead banana leaves to mulch in-between the tomatoes. After a big lunch and a siesta we did an hour or 2 raking leaves and sawdust to put around the Avocado trees. Ben collected logs to fill in ditches to support the sloping land. During our 3 weeks at the farm we all realised including Kerry himself that he was addicted to Bean waste. (this is not the fragrant air that comes from ya bumhole after too many legumes) The locals pile up the stalks and dried pods on the roadsides in heaped hills after harvesting their beans. Last year Kerry experimented using it for mulch around his yuka plants and they grew amazingly well with the biggest yuka we’ve seen on either of the 3 farms. So knowing it works he got truckloads of the waste in his pick up and we distributed it over a couple of beds to suppress the weeds and help fertilize. Mum quite enjoyed this job so she was quite happy when he drove up the mountain with yet another load. Ben was mainly on construction building a bed with Kerry, putting in the new porch floor, little bit of electrics, helping Boris with his solar oven, putting siding onto Kerry and Lisa’s sleeping cabin and shelves for mum which pleased her immensely!🤣 We all made lots of Lemonade with the biggest lemons I’ve ever seen growing on the farm and the Avocados were in season so after a few days of being there we had as many creamy avo’s as we could eat-at least 2-3 a day usually! Me and mum picked them and learned they were ready when they had turned dull on the tree, no longer shiny. They were the best variety-hass-with over 200 trees on the farm so it was a dreamy situation. Me and mum did lots of cooking using Yuka, Beans, Tomatoes, squash and fresh herbs from the farm. Using an extremo large pressure cooker with the seal removed Sarah made an amazing gooey chocolate cake, mum stomped up a delish soda bread while Lisa (Kerry’s wife who is away at this point in the story) made a wikid bread most days …anyone hungry yet…? Mwahahahhaha.🐷 While Mum was making welsh cakes for brekki she tipped the boiling coffee pot all over her hand and leg…ran out to the hose pipe fed from the waterfall to cool it while i made an ointment made from blended shea butter and an aloe leaf off the farm. Mum rested for the morning as we applied this throughout the day wrapping it in a bandage. After 3 days it looked good and after a slight blistering after being in the hotpools it healed good. Ben built a profesh towel rack as the rest of us hoed a field ready for yuka planting. After lunch we all trekked to a waterfall on the property, Ben and Boris clearing the way. We drank from our new filter straw called ‘Mini sawyer’
https://sawyer.com/products/mini-filter/

Feckin useful lil’ thang, means we can carry less water with us if we know there’s water sources on the way. Played phase 10 card game with mum and ben before a bucket shower…mum usually showers every day but by the end of our stay in was once every 2-3 days coz the outdoor bucket shower was not so pleasant in the cold air…lolz. Met Lisa after 4 days on the farm…she’d been visiting her family in the states for 6 weeks. Me and mum weeded some beds before cooking up a no bake veggie lasagna that went down pretty good like!

Weekend off…Kerry kindly drives mum, ben and me to the hot pools in Nangulvi 15mins down the road. We dropped Leo and Sarah off at a hostel to meet their mate and carry on their travels. After a lush dip in the mountain fed, thermal pools we ate lunch with Kerry at the restaurant overlooking a raging river. Chilled in the arvo after doing some hand washing. Lisa made roast beast in the evening using up some of the last of their bull who had sadly fallen off the hill and broken both legs. Me and Ben both felt a bit grossed out as haven’t eaten beef in yonkers! Got up late on the Sunday as the neighbors chain saw which had ravaged our ears all week from 6am till dark finally quit . Kerry let us borrow the truck so we went to pick up Leo, Sarah and mate Christian, bought a picnic and drove uphill to find a waterfall we could swim at. Reeeeaaal cold in murky water but lush hideout and huge flat rock for sunning and picnicking. Kerry and Lisa went to the hot pools in the evening so after dinner me and ben made a tent of covers and watched a film on da phone. Most evenings we’d either play cards or go to bed early as t’was cold in the kitchen even with jumpers and scarves..reading in bed was a bit of a mish with the head torch as bugs kept flying into it so that too was usually quit early and all.

Monday started with some yoga with Lisa and Daniella. Ben helping with the solar oven- Boris had an idea to start a project producing solar ovens for the poorer people of Ecuador. Kerry supported this and let Boris stay as a long term volunteer also working on the farm but doing the ovens in extra time. It’s a lot of work and we all prepared cakes and bread to test the oven …a cake took about 3 hours to cook in full sun getting up to around 150 degrees and came out lovely and moist using no power but the sun and reflective sides. By the end of our 3 weeks Boris had decided a family project back in France was more pressing as they were all waiting for him to be able to start it..so not sure about the future of his oven project but hopefully he can pass it onto someone as a brilliant idea. We plated a bed up of yuka using the stems as seeds, prepared another bed, making huge holes for living tree post to support the tomatoes and mora we planted inbetween them…mulched around and left it looking proper smart!

The next afternoon I got the chance to extract honey from the combs...Boris and Kerry took them from the hives and we scraped the caps of wax from each cell before putting the wooden frames in a spinner and whizzing them round so the honey drips to the bottom. We then drain it into a waiting bucket and strain it later to get rid of the wax. We harvested 1 and ¾ 5 gallon buckets from 3 hives! Mum cooked down about 10 jars of runny, tart marmalade previous volunteers had made so it became way more edible. Had a weekend day on a Thursday as Kerry and Boris went to market to show his solar oven to the locals and Lisa was away for a couple of nights. Ben had stomach cramps in the morning after a too strong ‘heal all tea’ but after he got his shit together () we trekked down the drive and back up the hill to a quarry with Bernie the dawwwg where we gathered lots of quartz and copper stones. The uphill feckin killed me…huffing and puffin like a wrongun but finally made it up and slumped down to mummys delish homemade flour tortillas. Rainy arvo reading and in bed by the time the others got back.
Found out in the morning they’d been stuck in strike traffic…The government had taken away the fuel subsidy causing the fuel price to rise over 100% overnight…the poorer Ecuadorians which is most of them simply can’t afford it. The public transport would have to put up there prices drastically leaving the locals out of pockets when carting their goods to and from market. So they put road blocks in place on all the main roads. The president declared a state of emergency leaving us not too sure when we’ll be able to leave the farm. Rainy afternoon had us sorting dried beans around the kitchen table…not too shabby! 🤗Harvested their first pineapple which has taken 3 years to grow! Me and mum both declared it was the yummiest we’ve ever eaten with a hint of pina colada…we gave back some lovin by weeding around them for our mornings work. After lunch Kerry treated us to view panela being produced by his neighbors…after a 20-30 min climb uphill (poor ol’ mummykins) we were very excited to see full on action in an open sided barn…sweet steam all around us as a few families processed cane juice into rounds of hard panela sugar (see pics on facebook). They gave us lots of tasters as we sat back on a hill of used cane like a bunch of fat ol’ tourists. They seemed happy to have us there though and seemed good friends with Kerry. Back down the hill and we drove with Kerry up another mountain path to a little village where we had the homegrown ash planks sanded down ready for the porch floor. Kerry kindly bought us dinner while we waited before home to beddy-housin.

Sunday funday….Ziplining…still can’t believe mum did it as looked proper scary from the start…very proud of her for getting involved in everything that a lot of 60 summinks wouldn’t have. She also generously paid for Boris to have a go as he’s skint and had driven us there up an extremely precarious ridge path. So Boris did It first and got pulled back by a motor so he could drive back down to pick us up. Then us 3 had our turns and walked across to a waterfall you can see from the road. We left mum just before we got there as we came across a rope to help you up the next bit of path it was so steep. Ben had a quick dip and we were in time to meet Boris and Daniella back on the road.
On Monday morning tonnes of black beetles greeted us in the compost toilet-lush! Defo gotta remember to keep the lid closed!🤢💩🐜 Cotachachi’s mountain peak also greeted us with a snowy top after a rainy night. Political situation is worsening as indigenous groups head to Quito to protest. We were supposed to leave on Tuesday-2 weeks in to do some sightseeing before mum flew out on the Friday..both me and mum feeling a bit sad we are missing it but after a day of so of grumpiness we sort our head shit out and are happy to be in such a beautiful place with positive welcoming people who make us feel like one of the family, and glad to be safe in the mountains away from the ‘war zone’. Kerry and Lisa were so good to us realizing how we felt and letting us swap jobs if too hard or hot taking us on outings...one day we went to Daves castle down the road…another American expat who designed his castle with his wife who sadly died earlier in the year. The house should be on grand designs with 5 floors, bathrooms and bedrooms on each and 2 out buildings…Lisa is going use the beds for her retreaters which she is putting on at the farm- teaching people Nia dancing, yoga and breath work. After the most amazing shower in probably a year Lisa sets us up to do a breath work session in Daves living room. My experience was mainly physical as my hands, arms, face and guts cramped up…Lisa was amazing talking us through it and calming us down as we all went through different sensations and feelings. All we had to do was circular breath through your mouths and have an intention…if feelings or sensations got too much we let out an ahhhhhhhhh on the out breath and moved our limbs, running in place etc while lying down. Dave had a huge release at the end, sobbing, later explaining how the tension of his time in Vietnam had been released. Mum also released tension and it felt pretty powerful to all of us. The others brought dinner to the castle.. wikid black bean empanyadas Daniella had made. Felt lovely and cozy in Daves place with deep, comfy sofas and an open fire but it was time for bed so back we went.

We got up at 6.30 to do some weeding before the day got too hot...Dave rang at breakfast to say his maestro (local worker) told him the strikes were over which we were very excited about but when Kerry asked around he found out it was government propaganda which no one believed so back to work we go...we took some supplies down to kerrys friend who was heading to Quito to the front liners who were low on food...we saw small groups on the roadside waiting for the loaded truck to pass to add their supplies for the cause. Mum got a call from the environmentalist boss of Ecuador who is Neil’s nephews work acquaintance to see if she was ok and if there was anything he could do to help her get out of the country…lolz. She said she was fine and would wait it out.

Lisa made stuffed squash flowers one day which was a revelation! Bit more cooking and weeding and twas Saturday again and also kerrys birthday! Mum made him his favoured welsh cakes while I made a big pasta salad and Lisa made bread. Dave joined us for lunch which we ate outside to get away from all da wasps. I felt like some alone time so read all arvo staying home with Ben while the others went to their friends coffee farm for the evening.

Sunday I spent a couple of hours preparing yuka for the freezer…in the arvo Neil sets me up with a Netflix password on his account…I’m incredibly excited about this...got 3 series of vikings we haven’t seen yet..what a treat!..i know it’s sad but I fucking love a film or a good series…spesh when it gets dark at 6.30! Me, mum and Ben walk up the hill to the top of the property with misty views and Bernie at our side. At dinner time the president and indigenous leaders meet and after making their case the president puts back the fuel subsidy…hell yeah to the people! Puts us in a right jolly mood when we find out in the morn and make a plan to get to Otavalo before mums flight, which Neil books for the following Saturday. Last day at the farm…usual jobs in the morning..lisa gives me a personal breath session as she feels I have more I need to let go of…so kind of her, I really appreciated it as defo have lots of blocked emotions I need to free from my younger years. We end the day at the hot pools munching a picnic for dinner with Kerry and lisa. Bloody lovely couple…really enjoyed meeting them, both rugged, down to earth and extremely positive… grateful for anything we give to the farm and just for being ourselves…lolz!!
Paint a tag on their shower wall the next morn and head off to wait for a bus whuch takes 3hours and 45mins to arrive as everything isn’t quite back to normal after the strike. Say goodbyes to Kerry and Lisa who waited with us to make sure we got on it and headed to our hotel in the centre of Otavalo which mum has generously paid for the next 4 nights. Cooor its soooo amazing to have hot running water a few steps away from the bed as the only source of water at the farm came from the hose directly from the waterfall. Lil’ mooch around the market which is a few meters from the hotel before bed.

After the hotels free brekki we found a bus to Ibarra-a town 30 mins down the road to renew our 3 month tourist visa…after a lot of walking we were unsuccessful as had come a day too early but apparently have 30 days in which to get it sorted so can get it done in a town nearer to Babs. Had a $2 lunch then back to Otavalo to the huge clothes and crafts market. Had a massive, super cheesy pizza for dinner that left me restless and shitting all night…put me right off pizzas which is probably a good thing! 🐷🧐
WALK DAY!
Well mum was gunna laugh the walk off as it looked pretty hard and there was leather street to shop in…think she felt like she was missing out so I was very happy when she decided to come. 8 mile walk but very steep…constantly up with a few downs for the first ¾ of the walk…really, really proud she made it as was at altitude which made us very out of breath…except ben who seems to remain very fit even though he doesn’t do any exercise and eats a shit tonne…annoying ()! Saw many beauts wild flowers along the well maintained track and views of the lake and its islands were pretty special!. As we finally came onto the last quarter which was a relative, flat downhill we were enveloped by clouds and poor mum looked so tired I felt really sorry for her. She said after that she’s realised that was her limit for walking so summink to be proper proud of. Managed to get a taxi straight back to the hotel and after a short rest we shoved down some grub and conked out for around 11 hours 🛌

Everyone felt alright the next day, just a bit achey thighs for moi…actually bought some stuff at the famous Otavalo market which homes lots of brightly coloured gear…I twas in heaven. Took bus to Cotacachi after lunch for Leather Street where mums face beamed all arvo trying on and purchasing various bits. I just bought chocolate and cake (oh and a hair clip) …🤣 $10 bottle of gin to have with a game of cards back at the hotel for mums last night. Ben face-timed his family at 7.15 the next morn for at least 2 hours hearing all about his brothers new baby while me and mum packed and did last bit of shopping buying 2 cushion covers and a supposedly alpaca blanket for da boat! Big hugs goodbye to mum at lunchtime before she got a taxi to the airport. Been with us a full month…defo be weird without her.💚 Lazed around till a 4.30pm bus to Quito then a night bus back to Babsy…back onboard at 5am and crawl into bed until 11am. Next 3 days are chores and exercise...ben trying again to sort out the gear box while I blog, cook etc. grey sky’s here but warmer and more humid than the mountains with less bitey bugs…we are at the start of the rainy season now which has been showing itself in light spittings later on in the day. Made meself feel sick this morn after a spinach heavy smoothie-spinach is a tougher type out here and I think it might have to be cooked to get through ya without sicky suzie turning up.
Anyways 2 more days on da boat before a week at a kite surfing workaway 2 hours down the road...always feel a bit down in the dumps and unmotivated when people who visit leave so gotta pull meself out of me pit and stop thinking of home and all you glorious smumpkins…miss ya’ll tonnes but let the adventure continue…xxXxxxXxx

Vessel Name: St Barbara of mersea
Vessel Make/Model: Nicholson AC
Hailing Port: St Osyth, UK
Crew: Ben and Amy
About:
We a young (ish) couple from the lands of Essex with a passion for adventure and new experiences. Ben is a born n bred sailor growing up on a boat yard with his mum, dad, brother and sister. [...]
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