Monday, August 21, 2017

Ahoy Shipmates!

A tiny Pirate in the Caribbean 1Hi…glad you can join me! It’s kind of scary to start writing a blog as it definitely makes one vulnerable…not something I’m used to. But here goes, I hope you like it, or at least it gives you inspiration to fine-tune your life. It’s worked wonders for me. And contrary to the popular saying “you only live once’, I tend to think the opposite…you live every day but die just the one time. Unless you’re a cat. So make the most of life’s adventures!
A Colombian nomad by blood and birth, my travels and career in music and writing have taken me to tens of different countries and cultures, working, living, breathing and experiencing life where possible as a local. Having had London as my home base for over 20 years, I was set to decamp to Ibiza in the winter of 2013/2014 in order to write my debut novel…until the stars magnetically pulled me to the magic town of Cabarete in the Dominican Republic.

 

Claudia Avila-Batchelor and Jojo Tiny PirateMy best friend’s husband had been a keen windsurfer and had visited Cabarete ten years previously. He insisted their family holiday was to take place there in the summer of 2013. The DR has unfortunately some unjustified bad rep in the UK, mostly to do with cheap package holidays, unhygienic buffets and general third world issues. Not great if you are competing as a holiday destination with the rest of the Caribbean.

“The DR is not a place for you darling, especially with three children under the age of 4. You need to put your foot down and we need to go to Tahiti this year”, were my not-very-helpful comments to Jojo. No amount of insistence (nagging) from her or the ‘Colombian wife’ did the trick. Unbelievably (for the first and last time EVER!), we lost the battle. Mother nature clearly had something in store because we ended up exactly where we all were supposed to be.

Permanently staying in Cabarete I joined them for “a long weekend” and ended up staying for a month. By my second day I knew this was going to be my new home. Sun, sea, sexy salsa and ripping wind for epic kiting…what’s not to love?! My Latin genes were bouncing around like Mexican jumping beans…the people, pace, spice, colours and flavours of the place instantly seduced me. Within four months I had packed up my London home and moved my personal items to the little strip of sand on the north coast of my own Pirate Island. Customs were somewhat bewildered about my suitcases full of high heels and fancy dress outfits. I said I had moved here, I didn’t say I was losing my identity! And I guess high heels and fancy dress pretty much sum me up…

A few months before Jojo and her family decamped to the DR, I’d met a surfer on a boat in Panama’s San Blas islands. He lived in Cabarete, so we had kept in touch and met up when we were in town. He had a studio for rent, so once again fate and Mother Nature had provided what I wished for, and this was the perfect introduction to the local society.

Cabarete Surf Schools for tiny piratesI had been in Cabarete for less than 24hrs and I saw him going off somewhere. “Surfing”.
- Can I come?
- “No- I’m going alone”(this is man time you see, it wasn’t him being mean)
- Ok- can I watch?
- “Yeah, sure”

I got there and saw a surf school ready to close up. I didn’t have appropriate clothing but in the in the exquisite light of the sunset, I knew I had to get into the most intoxicating sea I had seen for a long, long time. This was my first taste of Encuentro, one of the most stunning surf spots around.

They had rashies and booties to lend me. My teacher was a boy of about 19, skinny, athletic, with the unique chocolate loveliness you can see in Creole and Hispanic mixtures. Big eyes, dazzling smile; infectious happiness…this is why I’m here. He showed me how to ‘pop’, we paddled out in the unbelievable shimmering warm waters, radiant and striking colours stimulating every one of my senses.

I made my move, got smashed off my board and booties, pants, and t*ts fell out. I can’t remember the last time I had laughed so hard and so freely. We went again, a second time, same result. The third time I got up and the butterflies in my stomach danced for joy.

A tiny pirate goes kitesurfingThe kid was a singer and serenaded me as we paddled, popped, wiped out and lost clothing and self respect. He sang his own compositions of unrequited love and empty promises, broken hearts and profound desperation. A moon worthy of Matisse rose up on the horizon, blushing pink and scandalized at my indiscreet clothing. She finally flushed scarlet before tuning a deep, huge, golden…my personal winner’s medal for at least being tenacious, if nothing else.

As I pulled my tiny pants out of my a*se, surrounded by a kaleidoscope of the most vibrant and intense colours no words can ever do justice, I knew then I had made one of the best decisions of my life.

Photography by: Claudia Avila-Batchelor

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