Archive | October, 2010

Oregon – More Conversation (a post that got away)

26 Oct

One of the reasons I love what is known as the Conversations with God material is that it’s so inclusive.  A favourite saying is ‘this is not a better way, this is just another way’.  That, I think, is one of my main concerns about ‘religion’ – that dictat that says that this is the only way to God/to be saved/to be enlightened.

I’ve looked into enough spiritual paths now to be convinced that isn’t true.  As they put it in Hawaii “‘A’ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka halau ho’okahi” – “All knowledge is not taught in one school”.  I see so much truth in so many paths, so much beauty and love.

So today has been a good day, full of insight, a few tears, being called on to speak, recognition of some mistakes I have made in the past, and new hopes for the future.

And just a snippet of my notes:

“Life is not about you.  The solution to everything you want is to help other people experience what you want to see in your life.  Be the gift you are – step into the living of who you are.  The best way to feel worthy is to help others to feel worthy – and the fastest way to have fun is to be your own magnificent self.  We are all God’s gift to the world – and yet we are afraid to announce it in case someone makes us wrong.  The truth is that no-one has the power to make us ‘wrong’.”


Here we go again . . . .

26 Oct

Well, after a very relaxing couple of weeks, where I have caught up with some wonderful friends, been dancing, been walking, seen my eldest son’s new flat, celebrated my youngest son’s birthday… I find myself getting ready for the next part of the adventure.  This time I am going to be away for around 9 months.. Travelling round Australasia and Asia.  The trip looks a little bit like this…..



Flight to Fiji (30th October)


Stay Fiji

Complete PADI course

Flight to Auckland (19th November)

New Zealand

Tour NZ Overland to Christchurch

Flight to Hobart (10th Dec)


Tour Tasmania

Flight to Melbourne (22nd December)


Stay & tour Melbourne (Christmas)

Overland to Adelaide

Stay & tour Adelaide (New Year)

Flight to Alice Springs (2nd January)

Tour Uluru

Overland to Darwin

Flight to Cairns (10th January)

Overland to Sydney (dive Great Barrier)

Stay Sydney

Flight Sydney to Singapore

Flight Singapore to Bangkok (2nd February)


Stay Bangkok & tour

Overland to Chiang Mai (~22nd February)

Stay Chiang Mai & tour

Overland to Luang Prabang (~14th March)


Stay Luang Prabang & tour

Overland to Vang Vieng (~25th March)

Stay Vang Vieng & tour

Overland to Phnom Penh (~5th April)


Stay Phnom Penh & tour

Overland to Ho Chi Minh (~21st April)


Stay Ho Chi Minh & tour

Overland to Hanoi (~2nd May)

Stay Ha Noi & tour

Overland to Hong Kong (~13th May)


Stay Hong Kong

Overland to Shanghai (~24th May)

Stay Shanghai

Overland to Beijing (~2nd June)

Tour to Tibet/Nepal (Start 8th June)

Tour to Kathmandu (arrive 25th June)


Stay Kathmandu and tour

Overland to Varanasi (~30th June)


Overland to Delhi (~4th July)

Flight or overland to Mumbai

Flight to UK (8th July – TBC)


Now, the observant amongst you will have noticed that flights run out at the beginning of February…. After that, it’s overland travel and no fixed agenda.  So all bets are off after February – I might go anywhere.


The last time out I felt that the trip was about letting go – letting go of my old life, my old identity, my old habits – and letting go of where I had failed.


This time round, it’s about stepping into the new.  I’m wanting to experience some wonderful places – to soak myself in the beauty of nature – but also to be part of some of the spiritual places, to be part of the local spiritual experience, if only for a while.  I want this to be more about people, and less about geography.


I also want to write – to start the book that’s been burning in me for a while now.  I want to put some on line programmes together – and to start work on a series of workshops that I will deliver when I get back… and maybe to start delivering those as I travel too.  I am going to be deepening this blog a bit too… and linking it more to the sister blog at where I have been posting some of my deeper thoughts, where I have been sharing a little more of what’s on my heart.


So, October 30th I leave for Fiji.  It’s going to be fun…. And I am going to miss my friends and my family… so stay in touch.  Facebook.  Email.  Read the blogs.   Post on the blogs.  Text me (although I am not answering my phone).  Find me on Skype.  I’ll keep you posted on my adventures…. And I will look forward to seeing many of you when I get back – to dance with, to chat to, or even at a workshop, maybe.


Reflections on the journey so far

9 Oct

So, here I am – at the end of an incredible three months of wandering round North and Central America.  I’ve had some amazing tours – experiencing the Green Tortoise approach to travel was just incredible (turn bus into hotel, sleep, wake up somewhere different, turn hotel into bus, visit somewhere else, repeat), and bussing it across Mexico was another experience (get on bus, go to new hotel, get on another bus, see somewhere, get on bus, walk to hotel, repeat).  I met some lovely people and got up close and personal with several of them (on a bus?  For two weeks?  You make friends quickly!).  I’ve learned a little spanish (poquito) – enough to get by.  I’ve learned some useful Hawai’ian (and understand a little more about Huna).  I’ve experienced the culture shocks of Cuba and Mexico, contrasted with the wonders (?) of Las Vegas.

I do know that I need to get rid of some of my backpack contents – so the study books, sleeping bag, sleep mat, and a few bits of electronics will NOT be coming with me next time.  I’ve probably got too many decent clothes and not enough shorts and quick dry gear.

I know I need to get a better grip on my budget so I know where the money is going.  I know that I have to have a better plan sometimes – and sometimes I need to hang loose a bit.  I know I need to hold onto things a bit better: my current lost list is:

Well, over the last three months I’ve lost the use of the following . . . .


  • Two Buff bandanas
  • One hat
  • One pair of headphones
  • Two pairs of glasses
  • Three pencils
  • One necklace
  • One souvenir Mayan birth date description
  • One tripod
  • Sunglasses


  • One Buff bandana (didn’t return from the lavenderia)


  • One torch (strictly, not lost, coz Mitch has got it)


  • Two USB cables

Lost and found

  • Both the little seals from my zip lock bags
  • One of the USB cables

Nearly lost

  • Mobile phone

Must do better next time!

And I am different from who I was.  There’s been a lot of internal learning going on – learning about what I am here for, about what I want to do when this bit of the adventure is over, when I finally get back to the UK (if I do – that’s still open to question).  I’m going to be spending far more time over the next part of the journey writing and working on ‘stuff’ rather than rushing round seeing all the sights.

And there have been some transformational experiences, too.  Some moments when heaven has touched earth, and I have seen a little more clearly who I am – and who God is.  Where I have seen something of the beauty of the world and of humanity – and where I have wept over both.  Where the boundary between the normal and the supernormal has been set aside, and where God has spoken.  Moments where I have been humbled, and speechless.  Moments where I have begun to understand my purpose, my dream, my future.  Moments where I have chosen a different path from the one I was one.  And moments when I have felt reborn.  New.  Alive.  Powerful.  Magical.  Real.

So, back to the UK until the end of October.  Time to go dancing (yay!).  Time to catch up with some friends (bigger yay!).  Time to read my post (big cheer from little brother).  Time to visit my kids (Kids.  Who am I kidding).  Time to breathe, restock, and do the washing.

Cuba – Cienfuegos

8 Oct

So, where to spend the last couple of days?  Well, Cienfuegos is on the way back to Havana, and unlike Spiritus Sancti, I don’t have to get a bus at 8am.  So, Cienfuegos it is then.  Home of Benny Moré, built on one of the finest bays in the world, and home to Cuba’s unfinished nuclear reactor, abandoned when the Soviet cash ran out.

I found out that the casa particulares are run like the Mafia… I booked for Villa Raquel.. But found I was booked into the Villa Ana Maria.  Next door.  And very lovely it was too.  They spoke no English whatsoever.  I speak enough Spanish to order beer and an omelette.

Cienfuegos has a French heart, and some beautiful buildings – an incredibly long promenade that runs down the end of the town and onto the Punta Gorda promontory.  It felt, I have to say, the most civilised and westernised town I had been to in Cuba.


Bus Service

A brief visit – enough time for a son concert and dancing near the beach, to wander down to the beach and watch a young lady fishing from the promenade, and to see the sun go down.

Then, well, back on the bus.  Five hours to Havana, then overnight in the airport before the flight to Cancun.  Then another overnight in the airport before the flight to Chicago and then the return to the UK.

Sorry – I LIKE sunsets!

Although what, I ask, can I possibly have done that merits being punished by Alvin and the Chipmunks, dubbed in Spanish?

Cuba was the first country on this trip where I didn’t speak the language (Hawai’i doesn’t count – it’s American!) and wasn’t on a tour – and apart from three Australian girls I shared the bus with back from Trinidad, I was on my own… and I did just fine.

Oh – and that stretch Lada?  Found it.

And, of course, then night one of travel – the delights of an overnight stay in Havana airport and a few hours of snatched sleep (after getting grilled by security, who wanted to know exactly how much I had paid for my trip to the airport… presumably so they could collect their percentage?)

Cuba – Trinidad

7 Oct


OK – so time for a change.  Out goes Havana and welcome to Trinidad (the one on Cuba, obviously).  Memo to me #1 – check the bus times before leaving (fortunately, there WAS a departure that afternoon).  Memo to me #2 – thoroughly check the hotel room before departure (otherwise, you run the risk of having to get the cab driver to turn round half way to the bus station).  Memo to me #3 – check WHICH bus station you need before leaving.

So, 6 hours driving across increasingly beautiful countryside.  It occurred to me that most Cubans don’t even get the chance to go across country, let alone travel to a different country  – and I felt very fortunate that I could travel the world.

So, arrival at Trinidad bus station.  The four Irish girls I had travelled with arrived without their luggage.  (I met them later in the coffee shop (naturally) and apparently it got delivered a couple of hours later).  I, however, was met by a lrge number of people trying to get me to stay with them.  And a lady with a big sign saying in friendly letters ‘TIN’.

Now, here’s where the miracle starts.  My landlady in Havana is friends with my landlady in Trinidad.  So when I announce that I am leaving for Trinidad, they put 2 and 2 together and realised that although I had got the dates wrong for Trinidad, she really ought to meet me anyway.  Which she did – along with a cyclo-taxi (apparently, legends of the weight of my pack have been making their way through the Spanish speaking world (look for the legend of ‘the gringo with legs of iron’ coming to a screen near you soon)

Anyway, no sooner had I settled in to the very comfortable casa particulares when the heavens opened.  When I relayed this to my friend Heather, she simply started referring to me as ‘my little rain god’ – which is probably going to be another legend soon.  Or I will end up on someone’s mantelpiece.  Who knows.


Anyway, the rain proceeded all night long, turning Calle Simon Bolivar, the street outside my casa, into a river.  No, really.  I took a walk and was soaked in seconds – it felt like the entire Straits of Florida was being dumped on the town.  Which would be stupid, because there would have been lots of fish and salt water.  But there wasn’t – just hours of unremitting rain.

I retired to a rocking chair in front of the house and watched the world go by.  Float by, in some cases.

The Cubans, however, simply looked at it as a way to clear their house out and shovelled their rubble and dirt into the centre of the street to watch it disappear.  Probably not popular with the folk at the bottom of the hill though.

So, not a day for visiting anywhere. But a great day for making plans, for thinking thoughts, to do a little bit of dreaming, and to work out exactly how much of my pack ISN’T going to make it to Fiji.

And finally, an unexpected delight for the day – wandering around the deserted streets late at night, with all but the most hardened salsa seekers having gone to ground in a bar somewhere (wise, given that all the salsa events here are al fresco, which is never a good plan in hurricane season), I was treated to the unseen side of Trinidad.  Men mysteriously materialised out of darkened doorways, intent on a night time cigarette, while supernaturally silenced bicycles sloshed their way through the streams and lakes that had replaced the paseos and calles.  Lured into a quiet street by the sound of music wafting on the night air, I realised that as I passed the open windows and doorways, I was being followed by a single musical concert – with most TVs tuned to the same station, the darkened streets and their lone walker were treated to a mysterious and all pervading latin rhythm….


And today I wandered around town, discovering lovely little bits and pieces and wondering what the Spanish was for ‘No, I don’t want any cigars because none of my friends smoke them’ and ‘ordinarily I would love to take a taxi but right now I am ambling round the streets enjoying myself’.

I took a walk up to the radio antenna above town, for lovely views over the town, the sea (and the upcoming resort Playa Ancon) and over the old sugar cane plantations.  And I spotted the cave where they hold a disco every night (don’t think so),  A man with binoculars hailed me and pointed out the sights – they lie in wait for unsuspecting tourists and leap out (a bit like the drop bears in Australia).

The casa here is lovely – every now and then Alberto appears and brings food (the best tortilla I have ever had, for one) and this evening was fabulous watching the sun go down in their lovely little patio.

And so, finally, now the rain has cleared.. A warm night under the stars, salsa outdoors at a little ruinas (although sitting on those cobblestone steps is bloody uncomfortable), a fire show (and some glass eating/bottle breaking/general high jinks) – and home to bed….


Slept really badly last night… for no reason what so ever… but fortified by Alfredo’s tortilla I hired a bike and set off for the 16km ride to Playa Ancon, the nearest beach to Trinidad.  Again, another of those bikes without gears, without brakes and far too uncomfortable- but the ride is fairly flat.  Slowly I stopped being overtaken by buses, mororcycles, horses and other bikes, and the trip started to feel slightly surreal.  Huge dragonflies sailed past like traffic police, while crabs scuttled across the road waving their claws in the air as if they were little old ladies scared of crossing a busy road.  Geckos skittered out of my way like cyclists scattering before a truck, while bird sat in the trees and watched, disinterested.

La Boca coral

I left my bike for a while with the parking attendant (which is a Cuban phrase for ‘the man who stops other people stealing your bike’) Senor Luis while I went snorkelling.  And then finally back to sort out my next stop….

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