I had travelled from London to India, then Thailand to the Philippines and onward to the North of Borneo to a remote sanctuary for the now near extinct sun bear, and orangutan, a rehabilitation centre par excellence. It had been a wild journey already to get to this point, a lot of challenges and really living my best life.
I had swum with whale sharks, visited Mogul palaces and forts, gone by horse up volcanic mountains in lake to see the emerald acid lake within that. I had gazed upon the Taj Mahal and other places of such beauty that I had been transfixed. I had had some adventures and laughed later, after the dramas were over. I had eaten a huge array of food and swum in crystal waterfall pools. I had seen art in museums that filled my soul with joy and learnt many things about cultures and ideas previously unknown to me. This trip had already held so much magic that I felt couldn’t be surpassed, nothing could surprise me. How wrong I was. Upon meeting the ‘Old Man of the Woods’ or ‘Wise Old Man of the Jungle’ I was in love. Seeing the insane flora and fauna I was gobsmacked and felt I was in for a roller-coaster of emotions. I was right.
After the beautiful posh hotel I had in Kota Kinabalu, (link) I had to downgrade a tad so opted for a beachside cheapo. Well not necessarily the right thing to do as it transpired. I wanted somewhere that I could just hang and prep my trip to the orangutan rehabilitation centre and needed to book flights and make plans for onward movement after.
The spot I was going for had a famous promontory sunset bar in walking distance, it all looked well and good, but my luck is always hit and miss. I had done no research for this trip as I hadn’t realised that Philippines only allowed you in if you had a flight out which I had had to panically book in the wee hours of the morning two weeks previously. Kota Kinabalu hadn’t even been on my radar. I sketchily thought ‘well I wanted to go over there at some point to go to this famous centre and see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat but never further on than that as I had planned at least three weeks in the Philippines.
OR, CULTIVATE PLANTS TO COOK YOUR WAY TO OTHER COUNTRIES!
July 28th 2022
Since I last checked in my terrace jungle has blessed me with more than enough produce than I need on a daily basis. Despite the chemtrails it seems that my lovely jungle is thriving. I would highly recommend that people grow their own fruit and veg on their terraces if land isn’t available to them in the form of an allotment or a friends garden.
I have shared with neighbours and even after eating greedily and still was able to freeze three portions of beans yesterday! I also have frozen some squash as I did earlier this year with some of my brothers crop.
I’ve been eating salad of herbs, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and nasturtium every day and have had various combos of calaloo, squash, beans and potatoes for my veg with my dindins!
I have to confess that the naughty squash do like to grow outside the railings so I had to invent and make some string hammocks for them except for one big boy that grew between the railings just to make my life more complicated!
I had a drama getting it in as it weighed 2.9 kg. I sweated and swore as I perilously cut it with one hand and with the other wiggled it out from the railings, then lifted it over while tangled up with all the vines. They are quite prickly too, so with my trembling arms I navigated it over to safety! It was worth doing as I was terrified it would fall off and kill someone walking innocently below! Dangerous beasts.
I’ve also just started making my own bread. I’d forgotten it’s not a drama at all and so much more healthy and cheap. Take the bull by the horns girls and do it! The smell in the kitchen is amazing and it makes you feel all warm and safe. This goes side by side with making my own soap, body butter and tooth paste. You can escape all the nasty fluorides and chemicals that’s in the commercial crap. I’ll keep you posted on recipes and ingredients shortly but I have to run now!
Alert: although this had been written in a rambling way you’ll have to excuse me! Much like this whole experience, it’s been penned as an ongoing experiment. Just how do you gather your thoughts when undertaking far too many things? I’m happy that my life is busy with things I am passionate about but it does lead to cutting corners. Anyhow, I’ll correct and add later in my very impatient old bird way. Publish and be damned!
If you can’t get away but want to conjure up recipes with vegetables and herbs from distant parts of the world, get gardening and grow more exotic stuff than you can get locally. If you have access to a farmers market make sure the stall is organic at the least, biodynamic even better. The stuff I didn’t have time to grow this season might be available. There are weird and wonderful as well as things like stinging nettles that are extremely good for you.
While looking wistfully through James Wong’s Homegrown Revolution’ the other day, and seeing an article about growing potatoes on Mars, (yes you heard me right) I started to look at all the remarkable, lesser-known and easily grown, veggie stuff you could have ready this year to create an imaginary trip to another part of the planet in your garden and kitchen.
Now since originally writing this, I had to recognise I was running out of time to grow anything, let alone start with more exotic stuff and only managed to get non-GMO organic calaloo seeds on the go so I’ll just have to show you how I did on my small terrace in Soho with the more conventional fruit and veg.
OR, HOW A OLD BIRD CLIMBED TWO MOUNTAINS IN A DAY.
This post from exactly a year ago in Mexico is a favourite of mine memory wise. It was a solo travellers demanding type of day with hardship but then huge rewards. This is the way we rock us old birds, moaning a lot but loving it!
When I made the decision to visit prehistoric cave dwellings that have been inhabited for 10,000 years I thought it would be a little tricky but not that hard. yesterday I worked my little travellers socks off to visit two of the major sites in Mitla. I had chosen two, maybe three places but hadn’t anticipated that they weren’t just there like most tourist sites, they are tricky to get to and a lot of leg work. I would advise not to try for them unless you’re feeling top notch and are prepared to go slowly.
Now I’ve been to Mitla two years ago to see the famous Mayan site of Mitla and also Hierve el Agua, which now sadly is permanently closed. Both were things of wonder so I was excited to be even more daring this time with a bit of pre history caves and their paintings all in the same area. I have always wanted to see some more ancient art in caves but have only once before been to an island off Sicily and no photos were allowed but here one has the privilege of getting out the old camera. I had no idea how remote they actually were and how hard you had to climb on treacherous slippery terrain after the rains. Although the soil had dried off there are a huge number of springs which are obviously spurting out excess water as you go higher up and make the soil and rocks really slick.
MY SUNDAY OUTING TO VISIT 10.000 YEAR OLD ANCESTRAL CAVES.
I came across this post of a year ago and it very much fits my mood now. I am sick of it back here in London. To the point of gnashing teeth. I also fling myself down on the sofa and weep. I pace from room to room. I plod up and down the stairs with water for my food terrace. I drink too much and smoke too much on miserable binges. I can’t write. I can’t make art. I’m a wretched mess. It’s well overdue to hit the road but I’m broke. It’s vile for a free bird to be trapped in this way. IT IS TIME FOR ME TO HIT THE ROAD, ANY WHICH WAY!
A year ago to the day I wrote this post and now I remember that fraught time in Oaxaca when I hit a brick wall and knew that it was time to go. It was at the beginning of the end as they were closing a lot of museums and archaeological sites across the more Northern part of Mexico and my mood gradually deteriorated from then as frustration, with the very different Mexico near Mexico City, and the dawning recognition that the Mayan Riviera was a much more chilled place to be with little of the mask hysteria and closing down of places.
OR, OVER A YEAR AGO “THIS IS REALLY HARD MY HOLIDAY ROMANCE WITH SWIMMING DOG IS OVER.”
It’s now more or less one year since I left Punta Allen and my doggy. I’m still homesick for it all there but checked online and the prices are huge in Punta Allen Mexico at the moment. I’ll still to my Turkey plan for the moment. Plans are swooping in and out of my life at the moment as the political climate changes in a heartbeat worldwide and I don’t want to make a mistake and have to come home again. I want another long-term stay somewhere and Turkey so my present baby.
Turkey will nourish my soul for huge swathes of archaeological sites and magnificent countryside, that I have not yet visited. It will offer me fabulous food and incredible vistas, I will look into possibilities of living there to grow my veg and make my art. I will generally get back to my wandering ways and hopefully regain some lost confidence.
So a brief look over my shoulder to the last place I was truly happy, then onwards and upwards to pastures new. Come on old birds let’s rock it again.
A YEAR AGO FROM THE JOURNAL
Alert: Nostalgia and crybaby form most of this post. If you can’t be arsed with a grown woman and a tough old cookie at that, boohooing over a dog just look at the pics!!
My dear old birds this is why you keep moving because if you stay a while anywhere, you form attachments. I am so down it’s beyond belief. The weather isn’t helping nor are the dogs, especially Alkida, who is blissfully unaware of my departure. I’m down, really down. It’s ridiculous I can’t stop crying. Punta Allen has been a huge learning curve and these hounds have been my best friends (apart from Sonia of course).
Alert: Another post from a year ago in Mexicos’ Punta Allen. Just shows the completely different and happy lifestyle I had over there in comparison to being in London. My moaning about the trivial was so insignificant in comparison to what I’m encountering here. I rectified the photo problem so I have now put the proper photos in. What a palaver!
Alert: Yesterday capped it all. Went to a restaurant for a humble salad and went to turn my phone on and nada. Blank screen kaput. I’d noticed a small chip in the top corner but surely that couldn’t be it? I’ve seen people with completely smashed screens happily continuing to use them. WTF?! More bad luck? Alkida and I eyed each other, she knew something was up. She looked away hurriedly as dogs do when something is amiss. I am proud to say I, although ready to scream and cry, planned rather than leaving here and going straight to bloody Cancun, and just to put my SIM into my Mexican phone which rather ruined my off-gridplans (tell you later) I asked two very unhelpful people (Utopia comes with its selfish bastards too) then went to my room calmly ready to use iPad and see if I could change me SIMS. In the darkness of the room, I saw a faint background pic on it. Crouching in a dark corner I could just about make out settings and then screen brightness. Boom! All good and I became cautiously optimistic that I could hopefully continue here. Previously I would have wept like a baby but this time I handled it with steely determination. I’m very proud of myself that I’m developing into an even tougher old bird. I still have the photos problem so in this post you will see rather random references til I pull the rein in on these constant phone issues. Bear with me x
I love Punta Allen don’t get me wrong. I’m coming out of a very bad space that only solo travellers know about. I made the huge gamble of booking down here for a month and the very next day of having arrived major works are being done on the villages the main generator. Five fucking days. It’s meant that in my hotel the owner is only prepared to put on his generator from four till midnight. Nothing till four. I am an old bird who loves to rise early and do my writing then, while fresh. I am not a night owl. This has meant all my devices have depleted their batteries by around ten. I’ve made a deal with the restaurant oh so aptly named “Be Fucking Nice” and they have put on their generator which means I can charge AND write AND update work all the time. This new arrangement along with my paying some credit by card so I have money behind the bar. This means I won’t have a cash problem and if their WiFi isn’t working for their card machine they just can take money from what I have put in the kitty. The relief is massive. The whole reason I came here, was to write and edit photos for my blogs and a book I want to put together. The occasional party is great but it’s not my raison d’etre for this retreat. This kind of problem is normal, it happens in Tulum too to a lesser degree and it’s very frustrating.
Alert: So just over a year ago, I posted my sad last days in Punta Allen Mexico. A place entrenched deeply in my heart. I had collected a group of dogs and was getting more and more crazy old bitch, rather than an old bird. Never bored or homesick I felt deep contentment. I have been considering going back as it was the only place I was ever really happy since all the craziness began so please have a look at it and see what you reckon
From my Journal
Can’t believe it’s Wednesday, June 9, 2021, and Sunday I’m due to leave PA. One whole month! I’m panicking now about re-entering the real world. Seeing as the weather is getting progressively worse I will just gossip in my journal for you to get the mood of how things are so changeable down here. A little blow by blow of the intricate workings of Roseliz and Punta Allen.
This morning I went out and took a video of the village walking all around and over to the lagoon where I took that boat tour from, all those weeks ago. As you can see it’s glorious weather again. After I shot the video I had a really lovely breakfast in a small backstreet restaurant. They had put green peppers, ham, onion and cheese in and it came with the usual fajoles. This included coffee that they served with the actual jar of instant and a little jug of cream, a bargain at 90 pesos. It was a delightful little place with shell fly curtains and various bits of art and hammock chairs. It was great to have got off my lardy arse to experience the rest of the pueblo.
OR, AN ACCIDENT BEFORE LEAVING FOR PARADISE, JUST THE USUAL SHIT FROM A CRASHING AND BASHING OLD BIRD.
Well folks I’ve gone and done it again.
In my wild enthusiasm to have a fresh start and go on a health kick on Sunday, after having, let’s say, run riot with sangria popsicles I crashed and burned immediately upon awakening. I got up and went to throw last night’s soup down the loo preparing for a house clean before my trip to Punta Allen the following day. I sped back past my bed catching my toes on the bed leg that rather protrudes, and went crashing down really hard on my left wrist and then knees, elbows and hip, whilst, I might say holding the fucking soup pan aloft in my right hand. Now, this weird automatic reaction I have noted before, for some reason you protect what you’re holding at the great cost of bodily harm. I’ve done this many times in a fit of the clumsies.
Now you might be saying that it’s my fault, but I promise you that normally when I crash and burn it’s due to lack of concentration and not the demon drink. This is why I keep banging on to you old birds especially, to go slow and concentrate on missions whether they be climbing ruins or doing the fucking dishes at home. This more haste less speed Rebecca had a stupid household accident and an avoidable one. This was the same dumb stupidity when I broke my foot in Mexico (link) stumbling on the hotel bathroom step taking my dry clothes with speed to my suitcase. True the step was high but it was because I was planning other stuff in my head and my spatial awareness flew out the window as it does.
As I sit here and write this from the paradise that is Punta Allen, looking gloomily at my fluorescent blue bandaged hand and wrist, I can recall it all in slow motion as you can in all those magnificent grand falls.