scrubbing you from my skin.
scraping you from my bones.
that will be the hardest part.
scrubbing you from my skin.
scraping you from my bones.
that will be the hardest part.
you act enlightened
you go through life with your eyes wide shut.
The wrenching temptation of a nation
To power the speak
And break the bones of a society
So castes it be
No prison break
Only silence mistakes
Itself for contemplation
Yet the truth remains seen
But a nation still bleeds (yet it barely breathes)
Yet a nation(s) still bleeds.
Some short musings of creativity that are bouncing round my head…
You will see me- if you look closely- in the darkness amongst the stars.
First and foremost, I need to look after me.
Are you strong enough?
Fight or flight?
What are you missing out on by letting your fear(s) rule you?
Take the leap.
Let’s fall in love,
even if it drives us mad.
“Let’s fall in love?”
“Even if it drives us insane?”
“I would rather sit in insanity with you than be sane without.”
I didn’t think a town could top the picturesque beauty of San Pedro on Lake Atitlán, and then I reached Antigua. Antigua is equally as beautiful as San Pedro but in a very different way. Picture this: the same backdrop of monstrous volcanoes, colorful one story houses of various shapes and sizes, towering antique churches on every corner, quaint cobbled streets…need I go on?
It was quite a bumpy ride from San Pedro but luckily I conked out with the help of a motion sickness pill then BAM! I was woken up in Antigua. I love a bus journey through unknown lands, you meet the most interesting people from all walks of life don’t you? There was Eduardo from Guatemala City who is opening up a hostel in San Pedro; a friendly American girl who is on an action packed adventure through Central America for two months; a Hungarian come Swede who helped build a school out of recycled materials; a Russian come German who seems to have travelled almost everywhere; a sleepy Italian woman and me, a Londoner come Bangkokian forever Irish cailín trying to find the balance between figuring out what she wants from life versus having an absolutely immense time being present IN life.
Talking about ‘interesting people’, I met the most amazing souls in San Pedro. For me, San Pedro started off a little monotonous. Life was Spanish class in the morning, homework in a café, a marathon siesta, meals with my homestay family, some Netflix and sleep, and I’m to blame for the monotony. Luckily I snapped out of it and managed to find a good group of friends to hang out with and explore a little more of what the area had to offer: lake jumping in San Marcos, Friday night pub quizzes at Hostel Fe, late night (11pm!) dancing and beers in Sublime and –mostly- we spent time in a quiet little restaurant called Pinocchio’s where a litre of beer was only 10 Q- that’s about 1 UK pound- and where the service always came with a smile in the form of a teenager called Arnesto who patiently helped us with our Spanish. It was great to meet likeminded souls of various ages, nationalities and backgrounds…all on a different and unique journey. I love to cross paths with people when I travel- either for a short time or more. I learn something from each person I meet, and something more about myself too.
Talking about learning I completed three weeks of Spanish and got myself a certificate! Afterwards, my cyber security come photographer hermano (brother) and I went exploring in the local market and he encouraged me to use my Spanish, somehow I forgot everything! I thought that maybe I should return my certificate! Thankfully I redeemed myself today by successfully asking for directions (about 15 times!) and having a conversation with a waiter- the three weeks of study has definitely been worth it and I can’t wait to speak more Spanish- me gusta hablar español.
That’s all from me for now- I have more churches to pray in, more colourful houses to swoon at, and more español to speak! But before I go here’s a little something for my time in San Pedro and for those I met along the way:
And me? I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for. Because it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something. And if you find that moment… It lasts forever.
The Beach (2000)
I am on a journey of self discovery, a journey to ‘find myself’ so to speak. And what have I discovered? Well, to put it in a way that a contemporary audience would understand:
Nothing. I know less about myself now than I did at 17- and that’s saying something. At 30 I thought I’d have it all together, not necessarily a house, kids and the husband to match, but at least that I could describe myself- really describe myself- in three words.
Yup, still drawing a blank.
So, as I sit here with my raw vegan mud cake and my matcha latte why not surmise what’s on my mind?
I am in Canggu in Bali right now. After being the ‘always had a goal’ gal I decided to quit my great job working internationally in Bangkok and become a backpacker without any plans. Yup, oldest backpacker in the world. I’m still convinced that it is BAGpacker because all you do it pack and repack your bags! And don’t get me started on the packing process because I can’t even find my underwear never mind myself!
I thought about going for an inspirational post: discuss my yoga and meditation, share the lessons from the healer I saw yesterday, reminisce about the calm I feel looking out over a cliff top…but this is not how it is flowing for me right now so I thought I’d attempt ‘funny’, feel free to criticise me if I fail miserably.
The truth is I’ve had an opportunity to do yoga a million times a day and I’ve done it about five; I attempted to be a vegetarian but the chicken sate got me every time; I aimed to start every day with a morning jog and it has happened one and a half times (how does the half even happen?); I saw a healer and my restless legs got me irritated; I gave up coffee only to become addicted to matcha lattes; I planned to blog every day and this is my first post in six weeks…find yourself FAIL.
I have found myself (oh the irony!) wanting to scream because I don’t know who I am or what I want. Isn’t time away from everyone and everything supposed to bring clarity? Isn’t throwing off the shackles of a routine meant to bring a calm alertness to my mind? Isn’t all this chatter in my mind meant to ease with the soft blow of the wind through my sea swept hair?
I love an inspirational quote, ask any of my friends, my Instagram feed is full of them, I drive my friends crazy on Facebook with yet another daily dose of inspiration. I can also talk the talk, giving good advice and words of wisdom (or so I’ve been told.) My problem? Not following through with my own words. I am my biggest critic and I often compare myself to my past self- teenage Claire who knew it all and genuinely didn’t care what people thought. Am I not supposed to be lost at 17 and found at 30?
And there lies the problem…
The constant wondering, the constant thinking, and the constant questioning. I need to just shut up. The truth is I don’t need to have a 5 year plan, heck I don’t even have a 5 week plan! I don’t need to have any of the answers because as I desperately search for them life is slowly passing me by, breath by breath. I need to remember: I am not looking for something, I am experiencing everything.
So, there you are. I’m a metaphorical mess who needs to chill the chatter in my head by just doing things I enjoy and not wondering ‘where next?’ or ‘what next?’ or ‘who next?’ Because, my friends, the beauty of life is that we never know what is around the corner…so there is absolutely no point in looking.
For some poetry is the place to be
from the prism we have found ourselves in
the unrelentless blurring
of the lines
between reality and the alternate world(s)
A world that is scourged with
but what we often fail to see
as we fall aimlessly is the beauty
the beauty of this earth, this home, this being
The unspeakable woes
The unstoppable boughs
Of the branches of our being
of our being
Watch it sprout
Our human need of being.
I am in a stage in my life where I feel it is time to move on from living in South East Asia; six years in Thailand- although AMAZING- is, potentially, done for me.
Saying that, as I sit and type and stare out into the blues and greens of the sea in Gili Trawangan, I second guess myself.
And why wouldn’t I? I mean look at it…
Living in Thailand means I have so much more disposable income than I had when working in Ireland or the UK…which means I get to come somewhere like here for my half- term break.
I’m a teacher, in case you haven’t worked that one out yet. I travel almost every half term, as I said the disposable income I have allows for this.
Since December 2015, I have travelled to: Sri Lanka for Christmas; India for New Year and my friend’s Indian wedding; Malaysia for a PD course; New Zealand for April half- term; America for the summer (Seattle, San Juan Islands, San Francisco, Yosemite, Las Vegas baby! San Diego and Los Angeles) and now I’m in Bali…and my parents wonder why I don’t have any savings?
I have plans, plans, plans for every holiday from now until the middle of next year: home to Ireland and maybe Myanmar for December and January; Tanzania for a service project with school in February; Australia in April and I have many, many ideas for my summer holidays…
…unless I move that is.
Move to where though? I have the American dream. I love it there and feel so at home in many parts of it. I think the country is so diverse and beautiful in many different ways. Sure I won’t be fitting in nine countries within a year but a lot of me could opt out of this for a place to settle, to drop my bags and call home (next to my wonderful home Ireland that is.)
Then there is the allure of applying all over the world to see what becomes of it…becomes of me.
I am definitely happy, yet something in me knows it’s time to move on. The question that remains is where…
And that, my friend, is the beauty of life.
Bangkok is a great city and the people- for the most part- are wonderful. But *beware* they are honest, and not the good kind of honest (hence the warning.) Maybe honest isn’t the right word. Blunt. Yes that’s the word. Blunt. Brutally so. Shopping is definitely one thing that highlights this brutal ‘honesty’.
I love shopping. Fashion is my thing. I like to have my own style and I revel in the shopping experience. Thailand, however, has changed that.
The dread that creeps in when my wardrobe needs a sprucing up is now too familiar…Heaven forbid I need a new pair of shoes!
I’m a size 10…just about. And 5 foot 7 and a 1/2 inches tall. My feet? A size 7, so all in all I’m in proportion. In the Western World I feel comfortable with that, and feel confident shopping for my size. How do I feel when shopping in Thailand? Like an oversized green giant with whale fin feet to match!
As this green giant waddles into a shop, more often than not I turn right back on my heels as I am greeted with shouts of: “No have big size”, “We have big size!” and most irritating of all, “Look stretch!” As I’m staring at the widest pair of trousers I have ever seen sprawling from arm to arm of this matchstick sales woman I shake my head and sigh: clearly she’d rather hand out an insult than have me hand her my money.
I know what you’re thinking, “Poor self conscious girl, unable to carry out her shopping excursion.” Maybe once. Maybe once I hung my head and stared down at my fictional green giant, whale finned body; maybe once I apologised for the intrusion into a shop that was clearly not meant for ‘people like me’; maybe once I thought I should take that trip to the ladyboy shop for my obese feet. Maybe once. But those days are long gone.
No longer do I shy away from these comments, or make excuses that I’m looking in this shop for my much younger, much thinner, small footed, make-believe sister. Now? Now I wear my thick skin, laugh at their ignorance, and walk out of the shop with that tight, sequenced dress that I hope fits me one day.