driving to south america

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The point breaks in Chile are legendary – bonfire rumors of long lefts, icy waters and uncrowded waves had both of us excited about our prospects as we rolled into Pichilemu, home to the world’s largest collection of left hand point breaks. Kels had hooked us up with a sweet camp spot, it was low season, we were with friends and there were waves to be had.

The point was roaring, I rented a 4 x 3 full-suit, got some pointers from a local and jumped in off the rocks at Punta de Lobos. It can be a bit of a tricky paddle, you have to time it between the sets or you run the risk of getting pushed back onto the rocks. Adrenaline kept me paddling until I was out of harm’s way, but after about 5 minutes I was slowing down and soon I could barely move my arms. It was then that I realised that I hadn’t been in a full wetsuit for years and that I was very unfit.

When we came back the next day the swell was gone, leaving no indication of the thundering lefts of the previous day. But I was happy, I’d caught a couple waves and we were lucky enough to see Punta de Lobos on a good day, the water is cold but the locals are friendly and the waves are world class.

we are here

we are here

Update Brazil

The thing about driving to South America is that you’re not always guaranteed quality roads. Here’s a quick update of how Marlin, our Volkswagen Golf, is doing after driving the Pan-American Highway for over 35,000 kms.

update-brazil

So I have to say that although I loved the sailing I was pretty happy to be on dry land again after a fairly rough couple of days in the open water – some of the bigger waves going right over the top of the boat… not really my cup of tea, kind of dashed my romantic notions of sailing round the world.

Old City Cartagena

We spent some time hanging out in Cartagena waiting for the car to arrive. Founded in 1533 Cartagena became the main Spanish port on the Caribbean coast, treasure plundered from the indigenous peoples was held there until the galleons could ship it back to Spain. In response to numerous pirate attacks the Spanish constructed a massive wall that encircled the town and helped the port withstand many sieges.

Best Juice Ever

I think the old part of town has to be the most beautiful city we’ve seen so far, apparently it is one of the finest surviving examples of 16th and 17th century Spanish architecture and it remains relatively untouched since it’s construction. Narrow cobbled streets and stone arches with funny wooden balconies perched above. Rambling bougainvillea and palms and hidden courtyards and spontaneous dancing in the streets. The people are very friendly and Kelsey is in fruit heaven – her latest infatuation is the maracuya (passion fruit) juice… she had three in one day!

Dancing in the Streets from Kels M on Vimeo.

I open my eyes, turn my head and feel my muscles shriek as I attempt to roll off the mattress, my noodley arms are useless so I flounder on the bed till I manage to work into a semi-standing position. My neck feels like Andre the Giant stepped on it, I think my spine is crooked and my stomach feels like some sadistic trainer made me perform 500 crunches in a row. No, I haven’t been in car accident, I did not trip or fall down the stairs, and I am not following some insane work-out regime.

I am learning to surf.

This sport, which surfers perform so effortlessly, has been one of the hardest, and one of the most humbling, things I have ever tried to learn.

This is a rough idea of how I tend to surf: grab my board, paddle through the white water as it continues to hammer me, fall off, lose my board, get smashed by the white water a few times, finally arrive at a place where the waves can’t beat me. Face my board to the beach, look behind for a wave, paddle (again) to catch the wave while trying to time it so the wave doesn’t crash directly on top of me, if I manage it right, get pushed faster than I expect, try and stand up, lose my footing and perform a spectacular crash into the water, almost drown for a little bit, subdue the panic attack and with the last bit of air leaving my lungs, come to the surface gasping and spluttering, turn around only to find another wave preparing to land directly on my head, hang out underwater, do a couple back flips, wonder how my head can touch my toes like that, resurface, and repeat 4 or 5 times. Once the set has ended have a little cry and thank the heavens, Buddha, Vishnu whomever that I am alive, climb back on my board and REPEAT.

Catching a wave

kels-pop-up

The beautiful part is that very slowly you figure out how to stay on your board, being beaten by the waves is a little less scary, wiping out becomes humourous, and eventually the feeling of riding a wave gets addictive in an “I can’t move my arms but just one more” type of way. There are still moments of indescribable panic but somehow this lessens and I’m finding myself wanting more. I’m still a little scared that I could drown but Tom doesn’t want me to worry because:

Victory

“You won’t drown…your wetsuit floats.”

Crash

Te Chirrepeco

As a lover of tea (especially chai), I was pretty ecstatic when Krista mentioned a cinnamon tea grown on a local cooperative in Guatemala. At her suggestion I asked our lovely host mom, Sonia, if she might be able to tell me where to buy Te Chirrepeco, and she was quick to tell me that she would buy and prepare it for Tom and I. I tried my best to dissuade her from actually buying the tea but she refused to listen—and every morning till the day we left there was piping hot cinnamony-goodness waiting for us!

This little box makes twelve cups of tea and costs about twenty cents. All that’s required is to boil some water with a few cinnamon sticks, add a few leaves and let it steep for a while. Not only does it taste amazing but, according to the cooperative website, some of the health properties include:

1. Strengthens mental capacity
2. Increases energy
3. It eliminates the bodies absorption of heavy metals like lead and mercury
4. Helps to reduce cholesterol levels
5. Contributes to the decrease in uric acid and much more

It is an absolutely divine tea and great for cold mornings in Xela. If you are interested if buying some I believe you should be able to order it here.

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