The return of the pessimist

It’s been three months to the day since I left Alaska. I didn’t blog for the majority of the summer because it was a lot of stress, frustration, and general sweary-ness. From late paperwork to incompetent coworkers, ridiculous management and disruptive living situations, I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about the people or the organization I worked with.

Needless to say, having a ‘real’ job is downright unappealing.

That being said, I loved Alaska. I am so happy that I moved to Sitka and got to play with their kick ass roller derby team. I made a few friends I really like. I did enjoy being a tour guide and was, to toot my own horn, pretty stinking good at it. I loved the mountains, got to see whales for the first time, and hiked my heart out. The air was fresh and I learned so much about the history of that incredible place. I was sad to leave, but oh so happy to be gone.

During the summer I planned a trip to Central America, a trip I am currently still on. I have been travelling for two months funded by that job I disliked so much, so I suppose that’s my silver lining. I have no life plan, but lots of continued travel plans.

Although I’m in the last few days of this trip, I’m blogging about it from the beginning. It was hard for me to carve out time to write my stories while I was travelling because there was always so much to do, even when ‘so much’ meant sitting on a beach and watching people surf. It’s amazing how things can slow down and go so fast all at the same time.

Mexico.

Cuba.

Belize.

Guatemala.

El Salvador.

25 countries in 25 years. Here’s to 25 more!

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Alaskaaaa

Readers, be prepared for a rant. A rant on technology, because fuck technology.

Was that an aggressive start to this? Lemme start over.

So, fuck technology, right?

Technology is the bane of my existence, not in the ‘this is slightly inconvenient’ kind of way, but in the ‘I legitimately want to throw things deep into the ocean after crushing them’ kind of way. Technology inspires in me a deep seated rage against all things I don’t understand, and all things I can’t fucking make work.

No one told me life was going to be easy, so I don’t know why I expect things to work when I have instructions, follow them, and, oh yeah, pay for them to work. Is it too much to ask to minimize my suffering, here?

Right now my rage against technology is solidly focused on my wifi router, or rather my lack of wifi router. This fucker was supposed to be easy to set up (according to two different people, neither of whom worked for the company I got the router from). I went in, got my router, and trotted home contented that I had so far been productive and started setting up the foundations of my Alaskan life.

Yeah. Don’t celebrate your success until those little internet lines pop up on your computer, dumbass.

Of course my little backpacker-friendly computer/tablet doesn’t have an Ethernet cord, so I borrow the computer of my ever-patient Mormon housemate. We then all proceed to gather around the magic wifi box that, lo and behold, refuses to produce any connection whatsoever.

Recent instances involving my phone and a particularly shitty phone company (and, previously, a really shitty bank but that’s not really a tech problem, they were just incompetent and horrible) have led me to believe that real, honest and true customer service simply doesn’t exist anymore. I would happily talk to someone not located in the United States of America if it meant having them actually listen to my problem and offer me solutions to solve it. What I’ve gotten lately has been a lot of, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t help you…’ ‘our system isn’t registering your phone, despite the fact that you literally bought it and activated a phone plan from our fucking company in the first place,’ and ‘um, yeah, you’re going to have to call (insert different department, overseas management facility, or regional summoning the demons of technology here).’

And so I repeat myself. Fuck technology.

One call to an unhelpful customer service rep for the internet company and much unsuccessful googling later, the result is that I have to go back to the store and ask them what the fuck is up with this thing that was supposed to be so easy and self-explanatory to set up. When I asked them in the shop if I needed any extra instructions to do this and they both cheerily responded, ‘of course not!’ I don’t think they fully comprehended just how much technology hates me, and just how incapable I am of dealing with it.

I hate that I feel incapable of easy shit, like finding a bank that doesn’t suck or a phone company that will actually work or a wifi connection that will allow me to do my job (the writing one) easier, since there are no cafes where I can get coffee and lurk within 2 miles of here. It took me a month and a half to get my phone actually up and running (see above personal technological incompetence) and now it’s going to take a couple more days to get back to the shop and sort this nonsense out, which will mean more money and more inconvenience. Feeling like you need someone to hold your hand and walk you through all this dumb shit is really annoying, especially for someone who has lived in other countries and travelled the world and has generally accepted that she’s an adult and sometimes remembers to act like one, too.

Of course, I could be a Syrian refugee trying to rebuild my life in another country or, you know, one of thousands of homeless people in the streets of the world, but that kind of perceptual reasoning is slightly out of my emotional range at the moment. Right now I want to sit, stew in my righteous anger, and simply leak hatred over the internet, my lack of it, and technology in general.

Other than that, life in Alaska isn’t too bad. I’m surrounded by mountains, most of which still have snow on them. I have an awesome roommate (which is legitimately one of the first times in my life I can say that with no trace of passive aggressivity or sarcasm leaking out of my face) and my housemates are generally pretty cool, when they remember to do their dishes *cough*. Work so far has involved taking my CDL tests, which I passed on the second try, and cleaning. Lots and lots of cleaning.

Aside from some mild poisoning from Clorox and 409 (poop is not supposed to be green, y’all) I have actually been pretty content with how this summer is going to go. Unfortunately the work buddies I’ve made, including my roommate, are all shipping out to other cities in Alaska once our training is done, so I don’t know who I’ll be living with or working with. We got a ‘furnished’ apartment which is located on an island across from Juneau, which is a cool location minus the fact that we have no transportation (one ish bus system) and are about 9 road miles away from the office.

The office is located in the same building as the local rock gym, which I haven’t climbed in yet because I haven’t started getting paid yet and I have blisters on my feet from walking to and fro between work and home. And work and the coffee shop. And home and grocery store. And roller derby and home. Maybe mentioning that a car might be helpful for those of us in locations like this may have been something this company could consider for the future.

I may have solved my transportation issues not by buying a car, but by buying, that’s right, a kayak.

Booyah.

My housemate found a cheap two-person kayak on Craigslist which I snatched up like a hot potato (after walking 12 miles round trip to see it. It’s a big island). That was dropped off today (score!) and all I have to do is grab a couple life jackets and paddles and we’re all set to paddle. Official Transportation Vehicle of the Douglas Island 409ers.

When I showed up our apartment was under construction, as in there was a toilet in my bedroom. Cool. Now, I’m not opposed to a little renovation, but sticking people in a house that isn’t even finished? Maybe we could have been a bit more organized (and now I am being sarcastic and passive aggressive). My paperwork to come up here was late, people have been left at the airport, and generally things just aren’t as well organized as you’d like to think they would be settling into a new job in a new state. My personal stress levels are lower than they were when I arrived, but that’s because my roommate and I have epic bitch sessions over beers to keep ourselves sane. That, and I have basically nothing else to do this summer that would make me money (I can’t go back to a coffee shop, man, I just can’t do it).

My room has a sauna (epic), a walk in closet (I still live out of my suitcase) and mattresses on the floor, because apparently the definition of ‘furnished’ has gotten looser in the time I’ve been away from the USA. I live in a nook off the master bedroom which may have been designated as some kind of arctic mud room, but is now my humble abode and at least a bit more private due to the roommate situation. At least I have a real pillow now and not just a pillowcase stuffed with my clothes.

Juneau is a cute little city. It’s smaller than Anchorage, which seemed hectic to me, and people seem to be really genuine. A lot of it is touristy, but there are spots that are normal. The views are great on sunny days (few and far between). Groceries are mad expensive. There is a nice pizza place near my house as well as a somewhat respectable pub, where my roommate and I made the acquaintance of the guy whose sons started the company I work for, and whose nephew is the president. Small world.

So far I’ve been here a week and have joined the local derby team, visited a bookstore and generally got my bearings and haunted all the coffee shops. Work seems ok and we’re starting to drive the buses this week (honk honk, move out the way!). I tentatively will say that I like living here, but I also like knowing that I don’t have to stay.

Whoosh. Well, I suppose that’s all for now. I’m going to forget any ambitions I had to be productive for the rest of today, my only day off, and vegetate.

Update: I now have a router, which is different from a modem, but of course the setup for the router is a CD system which isn’t compatible with any of our technological devices. My trainer was sick today so although I’ve started driving the bus (and am not half bad at it, either) I had an unplanned day off, which is always more fun when everyone else you know isn’t working. Oh well. Sans wifi and sans getting paid today, I guess nothing’s changed in the last week.

 

 

 

 

Road Trip

Over the course of any trip home it becomes necessary to get the hell out of Dodge. As jetlag wears off and non-traveling life sets back in, I get a little antsy. The need to move and the need to see people other than my family (although I love them, I can’t live with them) literally drove me nearly 800 miles and into a different country.

First I headed towards the pretty mountains and the not-so-pretty traffic of Seattle. Man, I dislike that place. I crashed with my mom’s best friend for the night, and was graciously taken to dinner and driven to the airport the next morning. I headed up to Alberta, Canada to visit a friend of mine from Ireland who was studying there for the year. It’s always great to see a familiar face coming towards you at the airport.

We hung out in the bustling metropolis of Edmonton, a flat city located not so near to the beautiful Canadian Rocky Mountains. Although we had plans to climb, we opted for shitty scary movies (his choice), visits to coffee shops and bookstores, and lots of walks in the still chilly outdoors. Edmonton was kind of a cute little city, and Canadians are indeed very friendly.

All too soon I was back in Seattle, driving north on my way to Vancouver. I was a bit hesitant to go so far, seeing at though I and my dad’s truck don’t exactly get along very well. The first time I drove it the transmission busted, and it’s broken down two more times in the same place. It’s now cost way more to fix than it was to buy, but hey. I can’t complain about the car he let me borrow for a week, can I?

I stopped in to see my best friend, who’s known me since kindergarten. We don’t get to see each other very often but we keep in touch pretty well. She now has an adorable dog that I adore, a fiancée, and is planning to buy a house. Is that what adults do?

After an enjoyable visit I headed up to Vancouver, with an extended stop to visit my cousin and her three kids. All the little ones remembered me (silly Aunt Liz!) and we bounced around the house. I petted their big dog, who is also adorable. I was picking my friend up from the Vancouver airport later that night, but that flight was delayed because of the Brussels bombing.

They fed me dinner and I was on my way up to Canada for the second time in a week. The border crossing was hilarious, as the guard obviously thought I was smuggling drugs. The gangsta truck got a full workdown and I finally convinced the border guard that I wasn’t a runaway, didn’t have a body in the backseat and wasn’t an international drug smuggler.

The friend I was meeting at the airport was a guy I rock climbed with in Spain- small world! He and his sister were going skiing in Whistler, so I popped up for a couple days just to hang out and see him. We explored Vancouver (it’s literally always rained when I’ve been there), drank lots of coffee and had pillow fights. Now that’s adulthood!

Halfway through my trip the truck hadn’t exploded yet (win) and I hadn’t run out of gas money. Double win. I said goodbye to my friend and drove back to Seattle to meet a buddy from high school, one of the very few I keep in touch with. We had a great chat over coffee and I’m sad I don’t get to hang out with him more. All the more reason to come visit me wherever I happen to be!

The final push across the mountains was successful, and I arrived home in time to celebrate my 25th birthday the next day. That was entirely uneventful- I hung out with my parents, and saw the second installation of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Fun enough. Then it was back to the grind before Alaska, the shovelling of gravel and the incessant weeding. Oh joy.

More pictures would have been taken of this beautiful roadtrip, but I was too busy driving. Whoops!

Small town America

Oh, small town America.

The town my parents live in is adorable. My grandmother lives right down the street, as does my great aunt. I grew up near uncles and aunts and cousins, and a lot of them have stayed in the area as we’ve all grown up. I know a couple people my age in town, so although life slows down here it never quite stops. Main street looks like an old Western movie, and there is one coffee shop and no stop lights.

This time I noticed that things were different, or at the very least, that I was different. The things that characterized small town America for me now felt constricting and kind of concerning. Politics, football and religion still rule the day. Conservatives yell the loudest, and have the biggest guns.

Oh, and literally everyone has guns.

My first day back a friend took me down to the ‘big city’ for lunch. We stopped in at a local outdoor shop and I was greeted with all that makes this place ‘special’- deer, elk and moose heads mounted on the walls, country music on the radio, and the entire length of the building devoted to their gun section.

Merp. I’m a recreational gun person in that I enjoy the challenge of target practice, but when my friend took the clip out of his own handgun and deposited it all in his car’s glove compartment while we ate lunch I was a bit done. Then we went to another gun shop, which was located above a bar. What the heck, America?

Anyways. I had deliciously strong beers for lunch, and macaroni and cheese with crab mixed in. Lemme tell you- if that’s ever on a menu you come across, eat it. Worth it. So good. Hanging out with someone I knew was also really nice and helped me get out of my own head.

Coming back to a small town after a year and a half away and looking like an abuse victim is also not the greatest. I know I’m more concious about my face and how I look and what happened, but I don’t like it. My bruises have healed, as has the massive cut down my cheek, but it still sucks. Underscoring all this change is the monologue running through my head, ‘it could have been worse.’

Of course it could have been worse. I could have been attacked by someone I knew and trusted. I could have had acid thrown in my face like those women in India. He could have had a knife, or a gun. I could have been sexually assaulted. All these scenarios make me feel so much worse, because these situations exist. They are real. People suck, I am vulnerable because I am a woman, and all around the world someone is getting hurt worse than I did.

And that knowledge sucks. I want to feel safe and others should feel safe. No one should have to walk through the world feeling like they don’t belong in it, like someone is going to take advantage of them for being who they are and where they are. Without getting too far down the rabbit hole, I want to be ok. And I’m still working on being ok, and getting everything sorted out.

Opening a bank account. Getting a credit card, like an adult. Fixing my computer, which resurrects itself like Jesus every third day. Keeping connected with friends, whom I miss. Planning visits. Waiting to hear about my job. Working. Writing. Watching it rain, melting all the nice snow. Cuddling my dog, hearing my cat snore. Being overwhelmed. Researching an article about defending yourself with a backpack on. Where to publish it. Blogging (obviously). Drinking coffee, catching up on popular culture, most of which is crap. Seeing family, meeting new babies. Jet lag is finally mostly gone.

Blarg. Living and adjusting and processing.

(PS I totally wrote this ages ago and now I’m all living in a different state (same state of mind) and all sorts of things have happened so I’ll get on that here when I feel like it/am not busy walking to work which now takes up a small but significant fraction of my day. Toodles!)

PPS- here are some small town pictures from my time back at home. Enjoy, even if you don’t know what’s happening.

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Log dog!

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I was having a bad day one day, and sensing my unhappiness my dad took me to the local farm and feed store where they had chicks in a cage. The unfortunate thing was, I couldn’t pick them up and had to stare at the fuzzy adorable things and not touch. Painful. Then my cousin got these chicks, which I proceeded to love and cuddle. All’s well that ends well.

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My mother’s idea of an April Fool’s joke- plastic frog in my coffee. Readers may remember the horrific real dead spider in my coffee incident of 2015, sparking this particular prank and my rational fear of drinking dark liquids.

 

Portugal

My first impression of Portugal was that it was bright. Very, very bright. The white paint of Faro caused the sunshine to glare off everything. My eyes hurt and I wasn’t sure if it was because of a little head trauma I had recently experienced or my lack of sunglasses. Probably both.

I had to wait for my train and sat in a cafe, drinking coffee. Coffee makes things better. I bought postcards, the only souvenir I can afford. Writing also makes me feel better, and postcards were the only blank space I had to scribble. My notebook had been all used up in Morocco, and my computer was still kaput. The train ride to Lisbon was uneventful and quiet.

Lisbon seemed like a cool place, if I was ever there longer than a few hours and was in the mood to wander around. The bridges looked amazing, and the mini Christ the Redeemer statue guarding the harbor was interesting. The city seemed colorful and bright, but all I wanted to do was find my hostel and wait to go to the airport.

So I did. A very nice taxi driver meandered me through the outskirts of Lisbon, and I spent the night in a dorm room that I didn’t have to share with anyone. I finally broke down and cried. I hated that my mom was worried about me. I hated that my friends were so close, but not close enough. I hated that I made people worry, and that I was doubting my desire to keep travelling by myself. I hated that I couldn’t keep myself safe. I hated that when I looked in the mirror, I was reminded of a terrible thing that had happened. I wanted to forget and I didn’t want to be reminded.

When I told the story to some friends they called me a bad ass. Others just said, ‘I’m sorry that happened.’ A few wished they were with me (I agreed). I got sent virtual hugs and kitten pictures. Most people just told me to keep travelling safe, that it would be ok.

I didn’t feel like a bad ass. I didn’t feel tough. I felt stupid and vulnerable, two things no one should feel. I wanted to be back with my family, surrounded by people I knew, not being so scared.

I got on the plane. A surprise stop in the Azores islands put a smile on my face, and I talked about books and boys with the gal next to me. In Boston they told me, ‘Welcome back’ when I passed through customs. I had twenty whole dollars in my pocket, and bought myself dinner and a new notebook. I walked through every terminal in the airport to find my gate.

The plane to Seattle had hardly anyone on it, so we all had free seats between us. A myriad of tv channels reminded me why I don’t watch and how easy it is to get sucked into the mindless offerings of cable. Don’t get me started on the political situation- it’s more fucked up than my face.

We landed. I found my mom. She hugged me, and took pictures to prove to people I was really back in America and not dead. She tries to be subtle, and it doesn’t work. Her best friend picked us up and we crashed at her place for the night, with their three wonderfully wrinkly dogs. My view on life at the moment pretty much revolves around the idea that dogs are the best people, and I snuggled them until the next morning when we drove back to my parents’ house.

Hell in Huelva

Hell is most certainly other people. They really just suck a big one.

I was weirdly unhappy to be travelling by myself. Usually as soon as I get on my next train or plane, I’m totally fine. Saying goodbye is tough, and I sometimes end up crying in a bathroom. But I get over it.

I don’t know if it was because I missed my friends or was used to being around familiar people all the time, but I wasn’t looking forward to spending the next two days travelling to Lisbon by myself to catch my flight. It was no different than any other trip I’ve taken. I  mentioned offhandedly to my friend Kyle that I wished I had my taser, just in case.

Well isn’t hindsight just fucking perfect.

I got my train to Sevilla and laughed at the unfortunately named WiFi networks my phone was picking up- you can figure out ‘penes erectos’ for yourself. I transferred trains easily and pulled into Huelva as the sun was going down. I got directions to the bus station, rumors of a late night bus to Faro, Portugal on my mind. Hostels or even affordable hotels that I knew of  in Huelva were scarce, and a broken computer and non-functional phone made it difficult to navigate on the go.

Sunday means most of Spain is dysfunctional, including the bus schedule. The late bus was a no go. The next bus was at 8am the next morning, so I reluctantly tramped out the door and attempted to find a hotel I could stay at.

Huelva seemed like a cool place; people were still out in the big public squares, and things seemed pretty busy. Until they weren’t. Having wandered past a four-star hotel I knew I couldn’t afford I had found myself down a very quiet side street, lit only by a few street lights. I kept walking, a busy street’s noise fading behind me.

I barely registered the shadow behind me until my arm was grabbed. I whirled around- a guy, under the influence of something it seemed, stared at me.

‘Give me your bag,’ he said. I have no idea if he spoke in English or Spanish, but the intent was pretty clear.

‘No,’ I said, jerking away. He started at me, undisclosed malice in his eyes. I had seen that look in a dream I’d had a week before, a dream that involved me being attacked. This was after the dream I had about abseiling off the end of a rope, another nightmare of mine. My subconscious is a real dick.

He was holding a small wooden box in his hand, which splintered across my left cheek as he hit me. What the hell?

I jerked back and he hit me again. I was SO. FUCKING. MAD. Who the hell follows someone down a dark road and takes their shit? Who? Who thinks that is ok? What the fuck.

Well, the same person who thought that was ok to take peoples’ bags also thought it was ok to hit girls. Obviously the memo about me being a tough, former boxer and roller derby player with barely concealed anger issues didn’t get translated into espanol. This was so not happening.

I hit him back, greatly hindered by the fact that I had a rucksack on my back and a small backpack on my front. And I yelled, a lot. There was a lot of yelling. I knew the street behind me was busy but didn’t know if anyone could hear me over the cars. I knew I was bleeding. I also knew I sure as hell wasn’t going to give some jackass my passport or the last of my euros- I fought hard to get to this place, I’m going to hug my mom in 24 hours, and no one is fucking that up for me. NO. ONE.

He stopped his attack, probably because I was swinging my fists and hollering my head off. Once he backed off I turned and ran up the street, back to safety, back to people. The only thing running through my mind was, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ I’m not sure if that was directed at the guy who attacked me or at the universe. I’m thinking the universe, because for fuck’s sake.

I walked back down the road and was surrounded by people. I tried to hide my face, not knowing how bad it was. I didn’t think I had a concussion. I was oddly proud of the fact that I could take a hit and not go down. Is that what he expected? Me to just crumple? I walked into the lobby of the four star hotel and waited for the receptionist.

‘Hola,’ I said. ‘Hablo ingles?’

Thankfully he did indeed speak perfect English. My brain couldn’t operate bilingually very well. I asked for directions to the hotel I was looking for, which ended up being right down the street. He looked concerned when I told him what happened, but really all I wanted to do was get somewhere safe and assess the damage. I thought about asking the receptionist to walk with me down the road, but I didn’t.

I found the hotel, the receptionist barely looking at the beat up lady in front of him. I got a room and collapsed on my bed, too tired and shocked and overwhelmed to do anything. I sent a text to my mom, figuring she’d want to know I was safe and that showing up at the airport looking like I did wouldn’t be a nice surprise.

I was angry, because even though I’ve taken self defense classes no one had ever taught me how to defend myself with a stupid backpack on, and I had never thought about my safety long enough to realize that might be an issue.

I cleaned myself up. My face hurt. I was more than ready to get out of Spain.

The Irish are coming!

My Irish buddies arrived slowly but surely, bringing with them the necessary things they needed to survive and climb in the south of Spain.

Like whiskey and rain jackets and a hat.

At least that was the case when my friend Kyle showed up, rght on the heels of massive winds that had rocked my tent and rain that had turned the dirt around me to mud. Cute! But then i got cold and all the mud froze, so that was a nice change.

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Wind, rain, hail, and sand. Yuck.

We climbed and took advantage of the couple sunny days we had. We took the local bus to the next big village, Alora, and got coffee and went grocery shopping. The bus was full of old ladies on their way to the market, and they gave Pedro the bus driver so much shit in Spanish and it was hilarious. You know he just loved it.

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GO AWAY RAIN!

We pointed at and subsequently ate delicious things at a bakery while waiting for our bus back to El Chorro. Kyle’s birthday ice cream cake only melted a little bit. Walking back up the hill to the Olive Branch with all of our groceries was a chore, and all in all getting groceries turned into a 4 hour adventure.

Yeah, never taking for granted the convenience of a car or a grocery shop ever again!

It was a good week and I was so glad to have my friend there, but I was tired. I was so excited to be around people who could climb so well and so hard, but I couldn’t. I can’t keep up. I’m not that good, and I struggle on some of the easiest routes on the wall. I still maintain that I’ve never cried on a climb, but I sure as hell got off one and burst into tears.

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This isn’t the time I cried, but it is the time I got three feet off the ground and my feet wouldn’t work so I got down and threw my shoe at the wall. Like an adult.

I was not a happy climbing camper. But then I started laughing at myself, and Kyle cracked up, and it was a lot better. Always surround yourself with people who still like you and think you’re funny even after they have seen you looking like shit and at your absolute worst. Hold onto those people, because they keep you sane.

At night we hung out with everyone, and I met my redheaded doppleganger who probably could be my best friend in another life. We watched people jump in the pool (still avoiding it), sang songs about climbing hard things, and elbowed each other when cooking dinner. We played games and listened to terrible jokes from Gary and entertained each other and laughed, so much laughing.

The dogs became my favorite part of the day and they followed us to the crags nearly every morning. I still maintain that I never bribed them to come along (as Kyle insisted I did) and that they simply followed me out of love and a desire for butt scratches. Whatever their motivations, I loved it. Rent a crag dog!

Other Belfast buddies soon arrived at the campsite below ours, a short walk away and out of earshot. I had all the benefits of getting to see my lovely friends, whom I missed dearly, while still maintaining most of my sanity in my little quiet tent. Yay! There was, of course, much drinking and bantering and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Climbing with them during the day was also a hoot.

We paired up on a multipitch which is fun, but exhausting. I lead the hardest pitch to a terrible hanging belay, my partner pulls a rock off the wall, I freeze. At the top he accidentally kicks his helmet off the crag- that’s a goner. We abseil to anchor points we can’t see and I get frustrated and annoyed because the wind won’t stop blowing long enough to untangle anything. We finally make it to the bottom and I practically kiss the ground.

My last day in El Chorro was spent hugging puppies and saying goodbye to friends. I’m pretty sad to be leaving and to finally have to really say goodbye to my friends from Ireland. I want to be flying back to Belfast with them. Mostly I don’t want to leave the sun.

But I suck it up and say goodbye, and make my way to a little border town called Huelva on my way to catch my flight in Portugal.

And that’s when the shit goes down.