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midlife blogger

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There are times this week when I would have preferred major dental surgery to my intensive ski course in Verbier. Not least of all on the first morning of the course. 28 ‘Super Skiers,’ plus me, lined up at the top of a steep run and we had to ski down, one by one, to be assessed by the 6 instructors standing at the bottom. This was probably one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. 28 skiers descended with perfect parallel turns, then it was my go… I zig zagged and slid down the slope like Bambi on skis and decided to make up for my ineptitude with a perfect stop in front of the line of instructors. Sadly I misjudged the timing of the critical last turn and collided with 2 unamused members of staff. This was not a great start to my week and, unsurprisingly, I was put…

So, I survived my intense Spanish course and intensive it was. I am now pretty confident at ordering an Uber and a Cappuccino in Spanish, but not much else. I did, however, make  some lovely friends. I tagged along with a group of ladies from Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany. They very kindly spoke in perfect English to me for the whole two weeks. Unfortunately, they all moaned at the end that their English had improved a lot more than their Spanish. Well, at least I provided a language service and helped post Brexit international relations. The one thing I really don’t understand is the Spanish obsession with tapas. To me, it is a very poor excuse for a meal. One evening  a crowd of us went to a tapas restaurant and were presented with plate after plate of miniature appetisers. I realised quickly that if you don’t like cheese…

You may recall that my autumnal adventure to Central America was abruptly curtailed in Guatemala by illness. On my return, I spent a very long morning at the The School for Tropical Diseases in London where they took more blood from me than an overly generous blood donor. The verdict was that I hadn’t got malaria or COVID but I may have caught some random disease that will take 5 weeks to get results for. Having spent 3 weeks recuperating and moping, I got bored. Much as I love life in Lingfield, I kept thinking that I really shouldn’t be here. Husband was very unenthusiastic about me heading off again but when I announced I was going to Malaga, not Mongolia, he breathed a (short) sigh of relief. As far as we are aware Zika, Ebola and Dengue Fever have not made it to the Costa del Sol. Why Malaga?…

In Merida, Mexico I stayed in the home of Miguel, the owner of the Spanish school where I went in the afternoons for lessons, after my voluntary work in the dog shelter. Oscar, who was the programme coordinator, also lived there. My first impression of Oscar was a highly intelligent, borderline autistic individual with strong Mexican features, cool glasses, and longish black hair. He seemed a very friendly and caring guy. The morning after my arrival Oscar was to take me into the city for a quick walking tour. I was somewhat taken aback when he glided down the stairs wearing a full length purple floral dress, glass floral earrings, which dangled past his shoulders, pink hair slides and flip-flops with socks. I completely ignored his surprise attire and we headed out on the bus. However as we wandered around the beautiful city, I was struck time and time again by…

The next morning Luis, my scuba diving instructor, and I were diving in very shallow water when we heard a deafening roar which got increasingly louder. I knew it could only be one thing; a speedboat heading straight for us. Fortunately, my first reaction was to keep breathing through my regulator and to try and get down close to the sea floor. However, my buoyancy prevented me from doing this effectively, so in an instant Luis lay on top of me and flattened me. Within seconds the boat passed over with its propellers missing us by less than a foot. Luis signalled to check I was ok and we swam under water back to the shore with him clutching my hand tightly. Once on the dock he turned to me and asked if I believed in God, before looking skywards and crossing his heart. He then promptly sat on the…

When Tom Owen’s Caye, a one-acre island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, came into sight it really did look like the set for a Castaway movie. It was an idyllic paradise of tall coconut palms, golden sands and little round cabanas. This was to be my home for two weeks. There were 17 other ‘castaways’ on the boat and a separate boat with a crew of 12. Accommodation was basic, as expected. In each cabana was a raised stone platform with a mattress on, and not much else. Showers were cold rain water and the generator for electricity was switched on at 5pm for a few hours. Most importantly there was absolutely no WIFI nor phone signal. I knew that this was going to be the longest I had ever been disconnected from the outside world. The rest of the group were mainly in their mid-twenties, of all…

Peru volunteering

My time in Peru is coming to an end as I leave for Ecuador tomorrow. My time here has been filled with highs and lows; from the elation of trekking up to Machu Picchu to the lows of witnessing the misery of so many street dogs.

Maccu Picchu is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the ‘Lost City of the Incas.’ It was abandoned in the 15th century and not discovered again until 1911. The architecture is an absolute masterpiece. How the Incas managed to build a beautiful city out of blocks of rock 2400m up a mountain is unfathomable. They were way ahead of their time.