Friday, November 24, 2017

What Now?

Clsudia Avile Batchelor Tiny Pirate in the CaribbeanThe first few weeks of living in Cabarete passed by in a whirl of new-found allies, social engagements, International friends visiting, kite practice and one of the best Halloweens I’ve ever experienced. Cabaretians love this holiday as much as I do, and put huge efforts into creating magnificent costumes. The whole weekend was a trail of colour, sparkle, make up and creative peacocking. Hurrah for my bag of tricks!! I knew this was the perfect place for me…
It also felt like I’d lived lived another lifetime in those first months. I saw street urchins, beggars, hookers, gangsters, fly-boys, hot girls, the poor and the destitute, the needy and naughty, pirates and princesses, party people and m/dilfs…and every permutation of artist, bohemian, dreamer, mooch and scoundrel. Real, fake and imagined.

 

 

The pharmacy sells over the counter what are classed as illicit drugs in the West, there is no such thing as health and safety, I can order a smorgasbord of hot- beach gigolos to satisfy my every whim on the turn of a dollar, I’ve been mistaken for a street-girl on more than one occasion (but quite frankly, that happens world-wide not just here!), the sexually-charged atmosphere can start a fight with a look alone…and there are simply no rules.

There are also some bad sides.

Well, I say that, but in all honesty…nothing that isn’t globally prevalent. Sometimes slow/bad service… have another mojito. Hell-fire heat…take some clothes off. Regretful music in bars…drink some more and dance like no-one is watching anyway. Disastrous driving…I’m Colombian; who am I supposed to judge?? Power cuts….candles are romantic no? Biblical thunderstorms…possibly the sexiest things to happen!

Amongst the novelty of exploring my new home, there was a nagging feeling that I was supposed to be here for something…uhm…yes…the elusive first novel which I had moved beachside for. I’d used the excuse that London was too hectic a place for me to feel inspired and make time to write- my new Caribbean abode was supposed to provide me with less social noise and more creative space. Instead I found myself on a party rollercoaster of fun and shenanigans, which was exciting and heady and left me no time to get my writing mojo on.

A tiny pirate claudia avila batchelor circusI decided to get myself into more of a routine, a combination of writer’s guilt and – if truth be told- seeing so many beautiful people parading on the beach. Lithe and bronzed bodies, perfect white smiles and sexy beach hair made my..erm…Latin curves feel a little too curvy, and although my late night antics were a writer’s life cliché and great for content, they seemed out of place in a town that collectively takes care of itself. Within this tiny coast, and within walking distance for me, I could swim in the ocean, take part in Yoga, SUP, circus skills, spinning, TRX, pilates, dive, canoe and of course…the dirty merengue, a king of Latin dance that leaves very little to the imagination but definitely goes a long way to tone the legs and b*tt! Suffice to say there are ample activities to keep mind and body in perfect shape. There is no room or excuse to look like a beanbag that is ready to burst.

Writers live largely by routine and solitude. As I am not easily blessed with practicing either of these behaviours, the transition was- and continues- to be a challenge to someone who is Dora the Explorer by nature, and can strike up a conversation with a wall if left alone for too long. I started with less late nights and more early mornings, occasional yoga, religious daily kiting and a form of medieval torture called Cross Fit, led by whom I can only describe as a dynamite stick of a Brit, the perfectly formed Sam, who punished me and praised me in equal measures.

In a matter of weeks I went fully into motivational mode and locked myself away in my chocolate studio, the two huge, lazy ceiling fans letting me know in their sensual way that I was in the tropics. I didn’t eat or sleep properly, and had the most intensely violent, scary and sexual dreams whenever I did manage to drop off into slumber. In the early hours of one morning I sleepwalked into the Surfer’s room, knocked on his door in tears and preceded to tell him some gruesome dream that I must have still been having. I curled up at the foot of his bed because I was scared to be alone and passed out, only for him to wake up much later and me having gone, no recollection of this having happened until he told me days (or even weeks?) after. Given his own tumultuous life, I’m sure the last thing he needed was a somewhat emotional writer living in his spare room. But I guess sleep deprivation and an over active imagination does have repercussions…

Claudia tiny pirate on a motoconchoA couple of weeks later I gave birth to my debut literary baby, just in time for the Christmas market. This was hugely important to me because all the proceeds were going directly to a couple of Haitian NGO’s, whose work across orphanages and healthcare were the driving force behind my ridiculous goal of getting something written, edited and published in less than 3 weeks. But that same drive was the thing that made this a reality- passion and hunger are the only things that come before success. You just have to want it badly enough.

The new year came and went in yet another trail of dinners, salsa-till-the-early-hours, more visiting friends, more getting to know my new local family, and an improved confidence in my kiting and myself. I could never, ever have a bad day here- everything is washed away the moment I hit the water on my board and kite. It’s just me, the ocean and the (baby) waves I’ve started to ride…

My previously frenetic city pace started to slow down- island life does that to you. I have less money but more time..and who is the wealthiest of people if not the one who has time to do what they love?

Time IS the new money. Making me rich beyond my wildest dreams.

If you would like to delve into my dark and twisted mind please donate whatever you can for my crazysexycool collection of short stories. And creatively give to those in need xx 
A Twist in the Tail

All Photos by : Claudia Avila-Batchelor

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