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Tenerife Yoga Retreat – a Video Review

Time flies and over two weeks back into our new old Sydney life I still believe my prediction is true: Within a month we’ll have our old ‘stable’ life back. It’s amusingly mindblowing how hard it is to cut your ties and sail off into the sunset like we did 2.5 years ago – and how incredibly easy it is to drop back into the system. It is made for it and our society wants robots – not free spirits. As such in fifteen days we’ve found ourselves a house, a massive family car to prepare for the new addition next year, a red Vespa, the related insurances, a pushbike, a phone contract and several bits and pieces of furniture and the like.

This is for all the many mails I get through this blog fearing the loss of ‘stability’ and ‘real life’! If you’ve grow up with it, they (or the illusion thereof) will always be there for you!

Despite a five day involuntary cleanse due to a nasty city virus our pure ocean systems aren’t used to anymore, I managed to put together this five minute video review of my last retreat in Europe a couple of weeks before we returned to Australia. Looking at the blissful moments in sunkissed Tenerife, the fun evenings, the ceremonies and fantastic yoga vibes, remembering the lovely participants and stunning retreat location it feels like a second and yet a lifetime ago that the Sydney skyline didn’t form part of my life. Time is such a funny thing. Enjoy! and even better, stay tuned to soon-to-come updates on next November’s Yoga Retreat in Bali.

The bad news is time flies. The good news is, your are the pilot!


Travelling compared: Boat versus rental homes

It’s been almost two months since we parked Happy Dancer on the dry in Malta to travel overland instead. In hindsight – and with only two days left till we fly back home to Sydney – for us boat-life worked well until we fell pregnant with number 3, whereas travelling overland long-term-ish hasn’t, mainly due to the lack of grounding and having, albeit little, but a home to fall asleep in every night. Here’s some reflections and comparison – hopefully helping the travel-dreamers of you to figure out what could work best for you.

Pros of travelling on a boat

  • No packing! You’ve got your home always with you. Nice grounding in between all the moving and travelling.
  • Arriving by sea to a new place is always more magical than being freighted in with hundreds of others by plane, train or ferry.
  • Being at one with Poseidon with the right wind and exactly the right angle in the sails under a star covered galaxy is just unbeatable. Having said that – all the perfect conditions combine rather rarely.
  • Your kitchen with you at all times. Whilst tasting local foods is a wonderful part of discovering the world in itself, if travelling is your life, it can also be exhausting. Sometimes I simply want a non-dairy, non-gluten, veg-filled day with Chia-Shake in the morning and simple green veg soup with lin-seeds for lunch. When living on a boat, you can get the best of both worlds/cuisines – your own, and the country you are travelling in.
  • Potty training made super easy. Most times of most days the boys are either naked or in their swimmers. Plus weeing over the reeling has always seemed much more appealing to our two year old than having to go to a bathroom, take off your pants and boringly sit down on a toilet with no view.


Pros of travelling overland

  • No need to worry about the weather. All you do if it rains or storms is change your plans to visit a history museum or old castle, instead of going for another hike.
  • No need to worry about the anchor. Whatever house you are renting is most likely not to drift away at night.
  • Enjoying local architecture. All the places we’ve lived in since parking the boat – from cosy country houses, over super luxurious modern apartments, to ancient fairy-tale riads or remote basic and cute mountain lodges – they’ve all given us, not only an additional insight into local cultures and traditions, but also provided bits and pieces of inspiration for the day we’ll build our own eco-friendly country house – somewhere, somehow, some day;)
  • Digging deeper into local culture. Not heading back to port every night somehow has given us the opportunity to dig deeper into local culture, whether that’s been by interacting with ancient folks from the most remote mountain villages, travelling further afield than most other visitors do or getting a glimpse into hotel staff’s lives.
  • No storms at sea. Weather on land is just so much more manageable.

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Why not travel to Morocco?

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Crossing via ferry from Aljeciras in Spain to Tanger wasn’t exactly how I had imagined arriving in Morocco a few months ago. But neither were so many other things which have happened since. That’s the beauty about life, and travelling life in particular. Forced to stay flexible. Forced to stay open – to what flows cross your path.

Arriving in Tanger Med, an industrial ferry terminal 50km away from Tanger city, we catch a cab to Tetuan – a small town at the edge of the Riff mountains off the beaten backpackers track. We are most warmly welcomed by Abdul from the Riad Delia where we booked in for the night. He helps us carry our bags and find our way through the maze of the ancient, most picturesque and car-free medina. When we arrive I feel we are in fairy tale land. Round decorated arches over all doors and colourful windows. Aladin’s carpets everywhere. Stunning mosaics wherever the eyes rest. Cosy couchy corners in all directions where sweet mint tea is served as a welcome. The Riad owners have a girl about the same age as our boys. They get on like a house on fire from the first moment. After the obligatory welcome ceremony we are let up to our quarters past the black and white squared patio lined with palm trees. Upstairs we enter the royal quarters. A large princess bed which huge cushions and royal curtains hanging down from the high ceiling. Extra beds prepared for the kids. A small and cosy private bathroom through another arched ferry tale gate.

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Later we go for an evening stroll through the tiny streets, some so narrow we have to walk in single file and some gates so low only the kids can pass through comfortably without having to pull their head in. Little stands from old and young, men and women everywhere selling anything from delicious French bakeries, over hand-made leather shoes to tiny gifts and gadgets no-one really needs but people still buy. Hustle and bustle everywhere. Aliveness. Coulours. Smiles from the women. Curious looks from the guys although I tried to cover myself up as good as I can. The most delicious scents, from freshly ground coffee, over dried spices to all sorts of undefinable smells. We love and indulge in this strange and intriguing wold until our tummies call us back home for dinner where a mix of steaming sweet and sour Tajin and most delicious tongue-melting couscous awaits us.


Tetuan_594 Tetuan_595The next morning the kids get up without us noticing and start painting with Dalia downstairs. I’m not sure if this strong-willed, cheeky five-year old was named after the Riad or vice versa. Probably the former. In any case, a local kid at home is one of the best things that can happen to travelling parents. At a decent hour we are treated to a delicious and abundant breakfast which strongly shows the French influence and their love and talent for sweets and bakery. Another morning of getting lost and found again through the tiny fairy-tale streets of the medina. Surprisingly, and as usual for this trip contrary to what Lonely Planet states, the arts and crafts school by local berbers is closed, not on a Friday but on a Sunday. It seems that at least Northern Morocco looks much more up then right or down. In other words, it is more influenced by Europe than by Islam and Africa. This, we also find in the dominant language as, again contrary to what the newest Lonely Planet says, is not French, but obviously Spanish. Not surprising that at its narrowest, the stretch of Gibraltar separates Morocco from Spain by a mere 16 kilometres. Away from salty water, we are on to breathe some fresh mountain air. The Riff, they say, is great for the people who love the idea of lush mountains, green forests and enjoyable hikes but are just not quite ready yet for the Atlas Mountains further South. Yes, that’s so us today!

I’m told and I realize that Lonely Planet is so outdatedly, misleadingly yesterday written by people who might have never visited a place, or if so, then a decade ago. The way to go, fellow travellers swear by, if not your own nose and their advice, then TripAdvisor.

Day 4 of a Passage from Crete to Malta: Arriving is the best part

Whilst the wind’s becalmed, there’s usually still enough to help the engine a little. We are very happy to find out a few hours out of Malta that we’ve only used half of the amount of Diesel to what we did last time. We attribute this to three things. A) We sailed the first 24 hours and did a very good distance. B) The new anti-foul is fantastic compared to what we had before and so far not one blink of anything on the hull that shouldn’t be there. C) The revamped prop-shaft is giving the engine much less work and doing its wonders.

As we sail back into Marsamxett Harbour near Valletta to drop the hook right outside of our former marina in Msida (the marina itself has rocketing prices in summer, so we’ll only stay there for a few days next week) I feel so grateful for having so many places in this world which feel like home. There’s just nothing that beats that warm anticipation of hugging old friends again, sharing new and old stories, strolling to your favourite Thai place to get the best soup that you’ve been dreaming off at sea for days on end, all the familiar corners, with the unfamiliar touch of summer here. The boys are over the moon, playing with all their little maties again. Same counts for the parents;) Malta, it’s so lovely to be back for a while!

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By 9 pm we go back to the boat and almost straight away fall asleep – time to catch up on some good deep long and truely-needed, well-deserved rest.

Family visit

One of the things boat-life cuts a big compromise on is the quantity of time you spend with family and old friends. We try and make up for it with quality and embrace the visitors we get. As such, the last three weeks with Pablo’s parents from Argentina have been a wonderful treat. It’s been heart-warming seeing their bond with the kids grow from strong to stronger and give them little insights of our nomadic life at sea. We understand that it is hard to grasp for many – that longing for the ocean, embracing adventure as a lifestyle and urge to put the unknown over routine. Even more so do we appreciate those dear ones who try to do so with an open heart, tolerant mind and no prejudice. Abuelo and obacha – we miss you already. See you somewhere in the Caribbean or Brazil next year. Have a safe journey back to Patagonia!

Malta Traffic

It’s been three months we’ve been wintering on this i-dot of an island in the middle of the Med. Regular readers will know that for us it was love at first sight. We still love it and will be enjoying at least another three months or so here before sailing on towards Crete, Rhodes and Turkey. However, now that the rosey glasses have been taking off, allow me to have a good old winge. It’s the traffic here… In other words, near-suicide.

Without a sensible reason, the average Maltese is the proud owner of – not one, not two, but – THREE cars. Given the mere 316 km2 and population of close to half a million, this means, ways too many cars on the roads. Seriously, with twenty plus countries I’ve lived in, I’ve never been stuck in traffic jams as much as here. Worse. I’ve never seen as many road accidents – from benign to fatal – as here. Whilst driving in Rome or Buenos Aires might be nuts, at least there’s rules. Whether they are respected or not is a different kind of post, but they do exist and people know about them. Malta doesn’t seem to have any. Things that are every day road-occurrences include

  • The car in the inner circle of a three lane round about exiting the round about without indicators hoping that by ignoring the rest of the traffic it’ll all be ok
  • One care taking up three lanes by driving criss cross across them so no-one else dares coming close, let alone pass
  • Pedestrians having to cross in the middle of a high way
  • Parked cars in already tremendously narrow roads (never built with cars in mind) only passable by driving with one side on the pavement and both side mirrors flipped inwards
  • Active mobile phone users driving ‘on the side’ pretending pedestrians and other traffic participants don’t exist.

I’m told to pass a diver’s license here all you need to do is drive forth and back through two road cones. Wouldn’t surprise me! Watch out though, parking is a real art in a steep rock in the sea where some roads can be so steep it’s a miracle your car doesn’t flip backwards. So far our little Volkswagen’s only received a scratch aft as Argentinean drivers (ignore my looks towards dear hubby) don’t deem head turns necessary to double check for any black spots not visible in the mirrors… but we’ll keep the focus of this post on Maltese traffic, as opposed to inter-cultural marriage issues. Drive safely – and wherever you are, know it’s most likely more fun and relaxing than here!