Wednesday, July 6, 2011

You Alright?

    I have quite a bit to write about, many trips to catch up on and a mountain of photos to share.  However, I am currently visiting my parents back in the U.S.A. and am writing from their computer.  My photos are back in London so I will fill you in on what has been happening in the mews.
    We have been living in London for about seven months now and the time is flying.  Sean's work is getting even busier and we are trying to figure out if we will be staying for another year.  I have a gut feeling we will be.  Our guest room/Sean's office is getting lots of use between him constantly working and a healthy flow of guests.  I love when people come visit. Not only is it great to see family and friends but it also gives me a chance to get out and discover something new.  Hopefully we will stay longer so more people can come visit!
    Our flat is feeling more and more like home and when we are out traveling it feels great to come back to it and the familiarity of the mews.  I am in a constant battle with the laundry and our mini sized washing machine.  I just don't understand it.  Why does it take so long? Why can I only wash four shirts at a time? Sometimes I cheat and try to wash more than four but that results in a giant soaking knot of shirts with a completely dry middle.  Drying a load? Forget it! I think when I get back I will be visiting the laundromat and forfeiting the game.  You win mini machine.
    The mews is feeling good.  Sean is a pro at making friends with anyone who passes his office doors and we've gotten to know most of the neighbors.  We had a locksmith come out and redrill the lock for the little french doors that open into the mews.  Now Sean sits with his doors open and waves to anyone who passes by.  It's also a good way to keep an eye on what's happening in our little corner of Chiswick.  A few months back we hosted a potluck as a way to get to know our neighbors better.  I made some invitations and Sean stuck them in everyones doors.  No body was RSVPing and we were nervous that it would be one dud of a party.  Slowly though they trickled in.  We had a full house and it was great to get to talk to everyone and hear their stories.  Once we all got talking we learned that people didn't RSVP because they had no idea what a potluck was.  They guessed that it was either a swingers party or something to do with marijuana.  Kind of odd that they still came.  No no, they googled it and learned that it was a party where people are supposed to bring chili or bread to pass around. Something like that.  It was a splendid evening and great to get to know everyone.  We see these neighbors everyday going in and out of the mews and now it's nice to wave and know their names.
     Sean wired up a bright motion sensor light onto our flat that shines into the alley to try to deter the public peeing.  It did not work.  If anything it just sheds lights on the giant puddle of piss.  I have given up that fight as well.  You win public urination.
    The abandoned building next to us is free of squatters.  One day I was sitting upstairs and saw a man jump down from the 2nd story into our mews then walk out.  Sean, who was in his first floor office, saw a man falling from the sky.  Later I watched the guy climb back up, sneak into the window then unload about a dozen or so suitcases and garbage bags.  There were guys installing a big gate on the entrance to the building and now these guys were moving out.  We should have invited them to the potluck.
    The weird restaurant in front of us was sold and quickly renovated.  It is now open and sounds like an amazing French restaurant.  Of course Sean has become friends with the owners and we have been following their progress.  A few weeks ago the place was still under construction but apparently now it's open.  The owner/chef is incredibly passionate about food.  So passionate it blows my mind when you hear him talk about it all.  I hope we keep a positive relationship with these guys.  Not for the free food or anything but in case there's any problems.  Already he has put several dumpsters in the back of the place which means they're pretty much right outside our front door.  Not cool.  I'm envisioning stinky garbage, rodents and loud garbage collectors at 5am.  We'll see where this goes.
     Our upstairs bedroom has two fabulous skylights above the bed. I love the fresh air but lately pigeons have been hanging around.  I am nervous they will fly in.  I also made the mistake of opening the skylights and then jumping in the shower.  Silly me.  When I got in the shower it was sunny.  When I got out the bed and floor were soaking wet.  It randomly rains in London.  Now the skylights mostly stay shut.  You win crazy London weather. You win.
    I don't know why I didn't pick up on this sooner but just recently we noticed how everyone says "you alright?" Everyone says it.  It's their form of saying "what's up" or "how's it going."  It always catches me off guard because it sounds so serious for some reason.  I noticed it at the grocery store when I got to the cashier and she said "you alright?" ummm "Yeah I'm alright. Do I not look alright? Do I look confused? Do I look sad? What? Are you offended by my reusable bags? I'm alright."  I noticed it at yoga when I go to the desk and sign in.  "You alright?" um "I just climbed a flight of stairs. It wasn't much but yeah I'm a little winded.  Geezz. I'm alright.  It's hot in here, but yeah I'm alright."  Sometimes people you know say it.  Like when passing a neighbor.  "You alright?" "What? Do I look lost? Is blood gushing from my ears? Is a big creepy man following me? Yeah I'm alright."  How do you answer that? Do you even answer that? Do you answer it with another "you alright" right back at ya? I usually just blurt out the first thing that comes to my head.
.....(brainstorming some possible answers).......



"Yes, but just to let you  know, I'm better than alright. I'm awesome. So watch out."

"No, I drank too much last night and I have this weird thing growing under my one toenail, and I bumped my elbow this morning"

"No,  The pigeons were making me nervous"


"Alright Alright Alright"

"Are YOU alright?"

"We are all alright"

..........etc etc etc

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

9/4/11 First time WWOOFing

         My first experience wwoofing was amazing.  I'm so glad I did it and I thank all my wonderful friends who lead me on to it.  For anyone who doesn't know WWOOF, it stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  Here is the link:
         I signed up online and was quickly overwhelmed by the number of farms in England, Scotland, and Ireland.  How to choose?! I read through quite a few listings and decided to pick something relatively close to London.  Maybe a train ride away instead of a flight, that way if things went awry I could easily slip back home.  I emailed several farms and there were a few that really caught my eye.  Particularly the one that was in view of the sea.  Luckily the woman who owns the farm got back to me immediately and we set up a date for me to come work.  I was indeed a bit nervous to go off on my own but I felt sure that this woman was alright to go stay with and she gave me great details of where I would be staying and what work she required.
    I bought myself a grand pair of hunter boots and then jumped on the train southwest for five days.  The views from the train were beautiful but it was the bus ride into Bridport that melted my heart.  The bus quickly found its way down the narrow and winding country roads.  Cows, sheep, chickens.  Small streams and so much green my eyes felt alive and in bloom.  I soaked it all in.  What a change from the streets and sounds of London.
   I quickly realized that I did not do too much planning for this leg of the trip.  The train was easy to figure out.  I had two different phone numbers to reach Veronica, the woman at the farm, and I had studied and drooled over google maps for hours before leaving.  However, I failed to investigate Bridport and the trip from train to town via bus.  I assumed there would be signs or at least announcements for upcoming stops but there was nothing like that. Ten minutes into the ride I realized it wasn't that easy.  'That man just got off the bus and the only thing in sight is cows.'  'That last woman hopped off with her grocery bag and the only place to go was into the stream or the forest.  Maybe her connecting route is via horse back.'  I kept an eye out for road signs once I figured bus stop signs were obsolete.  4 km to Bridport.  Once I had a distance in mind I was able to settle in and enjoy the views. The 40 minute bus trip from Dorchester to Bridport was stunningly beautiful.  The countryside was so billowy and green.  It was like a giant green mossy comforter.  Pastures covered the land like giant green pillows, separated by hedges and hidden fences.  Sheep, cows, horses, ponies have all grazed the grass to a soft evenness.  This road we were on was antyhing but flat and smooth.  It was a sublte wake up from the flat but busy streets of London.  Up and down over these hills, looking down into green valleys and up onto rounded peaks.  Stone farmhouses nested into the perfect corners of each farms. I wouldn't mind living there.
   I couldn't fall too far into daydreams though, I needed to keep my eyes pealed for any sign or marker indicating where I should be going.  Veronica told me her farm had views of the sea.  I thought that was too good to be true.  The bus chugged up a rather large hill and there it was, a smooth glassy sea.  Sun, sea, green and everything in bloom.  At that moment I felt that even if this trips turns out to be a disaster it was well worth that bus ride through the country.
   I saw a sign for Bridport and hopped off.  Maybe it was a little early.  I ended up hiking about 25 minutes into town with my bags and boots, I felt like a happy hobo.  I instintively found my way to town and found a cafe to have lunch and a drink while I waited for Veronica to pick me up.  She swung by a little later with her two young boys and dog and we headed to her property.
    I had a hard time understanding her accent and with the dog and boys and squeaky van it was a little awkward ride.  She was so warm and welcoming though and her children were great.  I was anxious to see where she lived and if what I was picturing in my head matched reality.  I was a little off.  It was more beautiful than I could have imagined.
The small town of Bridport.  In between green hills and a
sunny sea.  
   Veronica owned a 200 year old farm house with back gardens split between four large terraced areas.  From her back patio you could see out to the sea.  Breathtaking.  I got a quick tour of her home then she led me down to the caravan at the bottom of the property where I would stay.  It was really cute!  A step up from camping in a tent but still felt a little like "roughing it."  The bed was surprisingly comfortable and there was a woodburning stove in the middle.  She showed me how to work the gas burner to make tea and cook myself some meals.
My home away from home.  An old caravan, much used, much
loved and "home" to many visitors before me. 

The living room/dining room in the caravan.
The shelves were stocked with food for me and
Veronica made sure I was well fed.  
    Veronica is an artist and off to one side of her land she build an amazing studio.  In the summer she would rent out her home then her and her boys would move into the studio for the time.  While I was there she held an art class and offered me the space while it wasn't in use.  It was marvelous and I was completely envious.  That little porch looked right out to the sea and the pastures below.

The art studio.  Besides being a studio it also had a shower
and bath that I used along with a fridge and another stove.
Next time I visit I will be sure to bring some art supplies and
take Veronica up on the offer of using the space.  

The house seen from the last and bottom terrace.  So amazing but also
so much work.  On the level right above those stairs you can
sort of make out a little greenhouse to the left.  I worked on
clearing that out, weeding it, turning the compost and getting
it ready for planting.  On the other side, not visible in the photo,
was a large patch of garden that I also worked in.  This wasn't
quite a farm but rather a large family garden.  Of course it was all
organic and it may not have been a huge production but it
would feed people.   

     The first night there Veronica invited me to eat with her and her boys and a few friends that she invited over.  The meal; their pigs from last year.  This was the first time they had raised pigs then butchered them.  It was interesting to hear her talk about how they loved those pigs but then in the end had to kill them.   She seemed torn between loving those animals but also loving the fact that her family had a great meal to eat.  
    The dinner was interesting.  I listened in on their conversations about tree projects, music projects, farming and fruit trees.  Art, bookbinding and gardening.  Perfect.  The pork was roasting in the oven and when it came out it was delicious.  I was tired from traveling all day and everyone left early because it was a school night.  I headed down to the caravan in the dark.  It was a bit hard to sleep that night.  It was so quiet and dark out, I was so alone and a little unnerved about being in the middle of nowhere, without any doors to lock.  That night there was also some terrible winds and I could feel the whole caravan shake.  In my sleepy fog I thought for sure I was going to tip over and roll down the hill, taking out a few sheep on the way then splashing into the rough sea down below.  
    I woke up the next morning to the sound of cows and peasants outside.  I did not sleep good but I was still anxious to start working.  The day was overcast and rainy.  On my way to the house I stopped in the studio to use the bathroom and make some coffee.  Veronica had a class in there that day and she was getting it ready.  The lights were on, the fire was stoked and it was so cozy and smelling of art.  I wanted to work in the dirt but I also wanted to be there, setting up my paper and getting ready to sketch the model.  
   My tasks for the first day were modest.  I pulled weeds from around then new fruit trees then put some compost around the soil (which would later be dug up by the dog and chickens).  When that was done I headed down one terrace and started turning the dirt in the larger garden.  It looked beautiful crawling with worms and mixed well with compost.  The two ducks hung around me but the chickens found cover from the drizzly rain.   I worked for  four hours interrupted often by Veronica offering me coffee, biscuits and breaks.  My work day consisted of a short shift from 9 am to 1pm then I was done.  
    After a quick lunch of spaghetti and some warm bread I headed to the trail to do some walking.  I didn't take too many photos that day as it was rainy and cloudy and foggy but it was still astonishing.  All along the coast are National Trust farms.  This means that the government owns this property and leases it out to farmers.  It can only be used for farming so no one can develop it into cheap tourist towns and RV parks.  Farmers lease this land and use it to graze their animals.  Along the coastline is a continuous trail and you can hike around the entire Southwest tip of England.  I think it's something like 630 miles long.  You walk through all these pastures, on one side you have green rolling hills dotted with cows and sheep.  On the other side is the sea stretching out below you.  I walked that first day for about four hours up and down the lush hills with the wind from the sea beating me.  It felt so wonderful.  Veronica told me the quickest way to the beach and so I headed down there.  The waves were angry and I was surprised to see that the beach was all stone.  Very round stones that made that wonderful sound when the waves retreated back.  The cliffs were large and made of some sort of soft clay.  Apparently this is also considered the Jurassic Coast.  Lots of fossils. Lots of dinosaurs to be found.  I walked the shore for a while then when I was feeling cold I headed back to the caravan.  I made a blazing fire in the wood burning stove to warm my cold bones from the damp weather and feasted on more pasta and cheese. I was so tired from not sleeping well the night before and working all day that I quickly fell asleep.
My little collection of round stones from the beach. 
   The next morning I woke up feeling fabulous.  The sun was out, the cows sounded happy and I could here the chickens ready to go.  I drank my tea on the steps and watched the sun dry out the dewy grass.  My work for the day consisted of turning more soil and mixing in all that great compost.  The chickens found me and my work early and hung around all day.  I thought they wanted to be friends but I quickly learned they just wanted the juicy worms I was exposing.  Still, they were amusing and I began to fall in love with them.  The day slipped by quickly and the sun felt fantastic.   I was down to short sleeves and rolled my jeans up.  Veronica once again regualarly interrupted my work by offering me food, breaks, tea and small chit chat.  Her hospitality was so warming but I was just content to be working in the dirt and getting her garden ready.  Before I knew it it was 1 and I quit for the day.  I went back to the trail but walked in the opposite direction.  I was told that a few miles along the coast there's a great pub to sit and have a pint and enjoy the view.  So I did just that.

The path through the pastures along the coast. 
Hello pretty cow. 

One of Veronica's sheep. Incredibly friendly
and incredibly fluffy. 

Little lambs. 

A view of the coast.  That was a big hill to walk up. 

The beach.  Pebbles and smooth rocks.
I walked out to that point where I found some
interesting looking rocks.  I'm sure if I knew
what I was looking at they would've been
fossils.  I did however find a few fossils on
the beach.  

Green green green

Sunrise over the neighbor's cattle farm. 

You know those California ads with the happy
cows? Those cows have crap compared to these
guys.  These animals looked happy.

On top of a green and blue world. 

Fossily looking thing. 

That must be a good patch of grass right there.

The coast near sunset.  

     The third night I ate dinner with the family again.  The two boys asked me lots of questions about where I was from and where I grew up.  They were amused that I called their courgettes "zucchini."  The world atlas was quickly brought out to the table and we all discussed geography while we ate our courgettes, chicken, and couscous.  I went to bed happy and tired from all the work and hiking.  The next day Sean was meeting me out there and I couldn't wait to show him around.  
   I put in another full morning of work then walked 45 minutes into the town of Bridport where I was meeting Sean.  I was so excited for him to see this area.  I knew he would love it.  I met him when he hopped off the bus and this time I had better directions to give him.  We got a bite to eat at a cafe in town then hiked back to the house.  Everyone had traveled to London for the day so it was quiet and I showed him around the property.  After a quick tour we headed back out to the coast where we hiked and soaked up that sunshine.   We stopped at the pub for some drinks then went exploring on the beach looking for some dinosaur bones.  No luck but we had a great time just enjoying the scene and relaxing to the sound of the waves.  Later that night we made a little gypsy meal in the caravan of ravioli, bread, cheese and wine.  Sean brought his laptop and we watched reruns of the Office.  
     The next day Sean and I both put in a days worth of work.  Veronica was wary of us clearing too much space for gardening.  She had help now but what would happen when we left?  She would be left to this space that's too large for her alone.  We worked on clearing the grass and weeds from the stone steps.  The whole time the chickens wanted in on the worms and grubs we were pulling up.  Once we cleared one set of steps we were ready to move onto the next but Veronica insisted we quit early and enjoy the sun and scenes.  We headed down the road to the little cafe where we feasted on homemade local food.  In the late afternoon we caught a ride back into town with Veronica and hopped on the bus and headed back to London.

Sean found the sheep.  Sean also found nettles.  If you look
at the weeds under his knees you'll see that those are the
stinging nettles.  I had no clue what they were.  Veronica
told me that they "sting" you.  I was confused.  I thought
she meant they had prickers.  Nope. They sure as hell
sting you.  Beware! They feel like miniature bee stings.
Luckily I had some heavy duty gloves for the trip but
Sean brought some simple fabric ones.  I warned him
about the nettles and the first thing he grabbed was a huge
stalk of the plant.  He quickly let go and gave a little
roar.  Yup. No joke! 
Sean and the chickens working on the
overgrown stone steps.  Those chickens were
gorgeous and so friendly especially that
black one.  
    This was such a fun experience.  Being out here just simply grounds you.  It simplifies things and your feelings.  The sun, the dirt, the green, the animals and the vast blue sky and sea was just wonderful. My first experience wwoofing was fantastic.  It may not have been on a large farm with acres of fields but it was great to help someone with their garden.   

Saturday, April 16, 2011

31/4/11- Canary Islands

    Fuerteventura! Fuerteventura! Fuerteventura! Try to say that three times fast!  If of course, you can even pronounce it.  Fuerteventura was the destination of our springtime holiday.  In Spanish it means "land of windblown goats." No, not really, I think it means something like "great fortune" or "great winds." Fortunes, winds, it was great.  Before this trip I had no idea where the Canary Islands were. I felt like they had something to do with pirates but I think their claim to fame is more with the German and British tourists.  I didn't see any pirates at the nude beaches.
     The Canary Islands are Spanish islands just off the northwest coast of Africa.  There are seven islands and we chose Fuerteventura to get away from the other really touristy islands.  This place was still tourism driven but I guess just not as much.  Aside from tourism this island's big economy is goats.  There were goats EVERYWHERE.
     We spent about five days there.  The flight over was tight and poor Sean did not fit in the seats.  I was still recovering from Tera and Ed's visit and made the stupid mistake of staying up all night before we left.  It was dumb but I was busy getting everything ready, packing, cleaning and we had to leave the house at 3:30am so what was the use of sleeping for a few hours?  Well...dumbest idea EVER.  The slight cold I was fighting quickly blew up into a full on sinus infection.  Complete with ear aches and nonstop snot flows.  So that aside, the trip was wonderful.
     The flight was about two hours with a connecting flight from the main island.  Once on Fuerteventura we rented a car and drove about an hour south to our resort.  What a land. What views.  It sort of reminded me of parts of California.  No forests, just sandy ground shrubs and lots of rock, sand and open skies.  We quickly checked in to our hotel and went straight to the beach before dinner.   I was feeling quite ill and just wanted to go to the room and lay down but Sean was eager to see if nude beaches really exist.  Unfortunately it was so late that everyone had pretty much gone home.  We walked a short distance then wandered back to the hotel where we feasted on an interesting buffet and free drinks.  What a waste though when you're sick!
    I am glad that we had a rental car.  Each day we visited a new beach and a new side of the island.  It's amazing how different they were, each offering a new view and atmosphere.

The beach outside our hotel. 

Our little room and back patio.  It was so nice
to sit out there after a day on the beach and
read in the setting sun before dinner.  This is
where I wrote out my postcards and made it
through two great books.
A little view of the mountains. 
    My favorite beach was Cofete.  It was amazing.  Probably THE most amazing vistas I have ever seen.  We had to drive to the other side of the island, over the mountains, all along these old, barely tended dirt roads.  Our little car handled it well and Sean did a great job driving.  After an hour of windy roads with sun glaring in the windshield this is the view you get once through the mountain pass: 
The stretch of Cofete.  Like nothing I have ever seen.  Sun,
sand, mountains, sky, stretches of surf and every vibrant,
 vital earthly color imaginable.  You can see the road winding
down to the town.  It was a bit unnerving to come around
those turns but luckily most of the tourists stayed on
the other side of the island so the roads were empty.  

Some shots taken from the passenger side. 
I wonder who lives in that.
   We followed the road down to the beach.  There were only a handful of cars in the parking lot.  At least one of those belonged to the single brave surfer in the waves.  The rest of the people were no where to be seen.  The beach stretched for miles.  On your one side you have these large, solid mountains creating beautiful silhouettes against the sun.  On the other side you have the blue ocean with monstrous waves.  The beach was in between; wide and stretching for miles.  Some of the guide books describe this beach as "desolate, eerie and abandoned."  They forgot to mention that despite those few adjectives it also left you speechless and just simply awe-struck.  So worth the drive.  

A lost buoy.

The waves were wonderful.  They rolled
over the sand in long sweeps and left the
beach looking glassy and smooth.

Aside from the grand mountains and angry ocean
we had these big commanding clouds.  It's
hard to find adjectives to describe this.  

I couldn't take enough photos of this place. 
    Sean and I walked for hours along the beach.  The end was nowhere in sight.  It felt like a zen place but nothing quiet about it.  The wind was the strongest here and the waves were impressive.  Despite the breeze the sun was hot and I could feel my forehead burning down to the bone.  But it felt so good to soak up that sun with the wind, waves and mountains in 360 degrees.  After our 3 hours walk  we were both hungry and headed back to the car.  Up the hill a bit into the "town" of Cofete was a little restaurant clearly marketed to the few, but enough, tourists that came through the area.  We had plates of juicy goat meat complete with chunks of bone and I had the bonus of wads of goat hair at the bottom of my meal.  It was so good though and with a cold beer I could care less.  There was a friendly donkey that made its way around the parking lot inspecting exiting guests for treats and entertaining those still eating their meals.

The fabulous modest cafe where we ate our
goat meat and beers.  

The donkey.  

A view of Cofete.  How would you like to live here?  
I think I could.  
Sean next to our Fiat Panda.  That little car
made it through some tough roads. 

On the road coming around a curve.  This would have made
me nervous but I had that view to distract me.  
Some old farm ruins.  There were lots around the islands.
   On our way back down to the hotel from Cofete we decided to drive to the very Southern tip of the island.  There was a lighthouse and a view of this tiny fishing town.

The end of the island. 
     The next day we visited another beach. I don't know the name but it was filled with windsurfers.  This should have alluded to the fact that it was INSANELY windy.  Despite the wind though there were tons of people sunbathing behind the mini dunes.  Each party found a dune, claimed it as theirs by setting up blankets, wind blocks and umbrellas.  The dunes acted as a little windshield but also as a little privacy fence.  There were lots of naked people sunbathing here.  Be careful when you peak over the dune.  You may see an old naked German man.  Sean and I set up our little territory on the edge so we could watch the waves and windsurfers.  If I were feeling better I would have LOVED to have tried windsurfing but we stayed on our blanket and soaked up the sun.  Well, I did, Sean stayed pretty much covered with his fair skin.  When we were bored of laying around we took walks up and down the beach.  There was a giant sand dune that was fun to climb up or you could walk the other direction and be hypnotized by the dozens of windsurfers whipping up the waves.  

Our set up.  Not too shabby.  It did a good job blocking the
wind which was key.  Sean had a good system to keep the
sun off of him for most of the day.  

A view from the sand dune.  All those people in the water
are windsurfers. 

Me on top of the dune. 
   The last full day we had on the island we went to another beach that was really far north.  It was constantly cloudy at this part of the island.  From our beach at the hotel we could look out and see the clouds and then look up and our skies would be clear.  Once we got to the beach we regretted not bringing warmer clothes!  I had a hoodie but between the wind and clouds we were both cold!  There would be no sitting around on blankets and sunbathing here.  Along the rocky beach were stone igloos that were convenient for blocking the wind but it was still chilly.  We explored the rocky shore for a bit then headed into the sand dunes and ran around there for a bit.  The flora there caught my eye and Sean had a fun time running up and down the hills.

The beach.  The wind exposed a lot of the rock here.
Also, take a look at that cloud cover. Tsk tsk tsk. 

Sean, cold, in an igloo. 

Sea urchin!
I thought I could find some fun things in the
little tidal pools but like the other beaches
there were no shells, or signs of living
creatures.  Very interesting.  
A little beach flower. 

Some more interesting plants. 

The dunes.  Sean off in the distance. 

I am finding myself more and more drawn into succulent
type plants.  

A view from the dunes.

At one point Sean got a little carried away.  First it started
with him finding a dune big enough to "jump" off of.  I said
it looked lame so I suggested sumersaults.  After finding himself
completely covered in sand he went all in and tried out some
sand angels....

The end result was a scalp covered
and shorts filled with sand.  But still
A view from our hotel.  The resort had five pools and
plenty of space for sunbathing.  People here were serious
about their sun.  We would wake up and go to breakfast
around 8am or so and already people had reserved
their lounge chair via towel and book.  There were
signs around the pools trying to discourage this
reserving but clearly people didn't care.  One day
Sean and I came back from the beach early and decided
to lay out at the hotel.  It was close to impossible
finding a chair.  People here were not afraid of skin cancer. 
  The Canary Islands were fabulous and I wish I hadn't been so sick.  It was like no other place that I've been and I think that it would be neat to come back and maybe go see what the different islands were like.  I feel incredibly lucky to travel to places like this which would be almost unthinkable to visit via the USA.  I will never forget that feeling of seeing Cofete beach from the mountain pass.  On our way back to London we flew pretty low over the island and it was amazing to see those beaches from the air.  What a trip, what a trip!  The crazy part is that coming back to London really felt like home....