Saturday, 30 June 2007
The Beach, The Burns and The Bloomin' Good Times.
Ladies and Gentlemen, by overwhelming public demand (in his head) Phil Clarke has re-taken to the stage to deliver to you the most Oxtedish blog you ever did see. I can only imagine the horrifying ordeal you have gone through this week without have a daily ramblosity, and you, every one of you, have my sympathy. The truth of the matter was that I was at the beach having a whale of a time. I hear you had rain for 5 days straight. Oh. I got sun burnt. Jealous?
As you can see from the pic of the day I have photographical evidence that I was at the beach. Sure I could have bought a bag of sand, got 3 powerful torchs and recreated that scene - im not that clever. Or am I? No.
That last sentance you might find hard to accept, but its true - me, Philip Clarke, the king of tan...... got sunburnt. You and I both knew it was going to happen. It was just slightly annoying that it happened on the first day there. I did put sun cream on - so no sneaky little moans please mother - but I didnt leave enough time for it to soak into my beautifully pearly skin. I guess not wearing and not being able to use sun cream properly are just as bad as each other. This week I have experience two other pains for the first time, both of which I am slightly proud off even though they hurt quite a bit! Firstly when I was swimming on the sun burn day - Monday I think I had the pleasure of getting quite a few sea urchin needles stuck in my foot - not as many as Paul - but still quite a few! They are real hard and painful to get out but my foot is now free! The other pain was getting stung by a Jelly Fish. The thing is when I was in the water the jelly fish tail wrapped around my arm and I got a whole lot of stinging all in one go. They kept telling to to pee on my arm. I gracefully declined. But, like I said, im quite glad they both happened - both experiences arnt they? Who cares if they are the best fun!
I have so much to write about the past week, but I dont know what to say. I have no idea where to begin. I tell you what, I havnt done one of those cute little breakdowns in a while, that I know you all love.
After church we scurried out the door before we had to talk to anyone (we being Me, Paul and his Parents - Denise and Bruce - who were giving us a lift to the bus depot)beacuse we just didnt have the time. The bus we were going to catch was due to leave at 2.40. We got there at 2.30 and the bus was there and ready to go. We hoped on and it left straight away. If we had been there on time, i.e. 2.40 we would have missed that bus and the bus wouldnt have been the same ever again. Off we were! Travelling at the speed of light, light that is slow and coach shaped. They had TV's with DVD's showing now and then. They have got to be the worst films I have ever seen. One was Spanish - and I tell you that was probably the best one. The others were called The Librarian starring - no-one important. The other was The Locator to this day I have no idea why it was called that - but then I didnt get to see the ending. Hmpf. *I just ran to the store to get Oreo's and Milk. Its my classic oh-im-actually-quite-hungry-what-should-I-get snack* Back to The Locator if you please - the acting is the worst I have ever seen. Its so bad you cant look away! Me and Paul were hooked! We were actually really upset that we couldnt catch the end. We eventually got off the coach and it was HOT. Im talking HOT HOT. Perhaps it was 'Roasting'. Imagine the hottest day you have ever had in England. Now double it. And that was when it was cooler. In Guadalajara its a really dry heat so if you go in the shade you are ok. Not in Mazatlan. You cannot escape it - the ground is hot, the shade is hot, the air is hot, the cold water in the taps is not (there is no such thing as a cold shower there. The water is stored on the roof and it has heated up by about 10.00) So, we got there. Then we had the experience of meeting bin bag boy. I know you are draw in by that. 'Who is this mysterious being?' I hear you ask. We walk out of the bus depot and right in front of us, walking around the corner was a man of about 45 wearing a bin bag tied around his waist. That is all. Granted he was actually wearing shoes - so I guess he is accepted as normal. Right? It was a crazy moment. Me and Paul just looked at each other and just burst out laughing. You had to be there to witness the glory of bin bag boy. We find a map and start heading down towards the street that the base we are staying at is. We dont really realise it but it is a LONG walk but we keep going. We get to about 20 metres from the base, it was just tucked around the corner, and we loose faith and call one of the guys at the base. We couldnt get through so we got a taxi, around the corner. 30 pesos later and we were there, our home for the next 6 days. We went in and walked around a bit chatting to people - There are about 50 people there - most students doing there DTS (Discipleshop Training School. Its a 6 month course were you are taught on the bible, what it means to be a christian, things like that and then you go out to a different place and do a 6 week out reach program - Places like China and Australia. You know - little places.) After all the introductions we headed out to get some food! We found an awesome place that did 2 medium (but they were large) and a 2 litre bottle of Pepsi for $215 - thats about £10. Awesomeness - Pizza shaped. After that we headed back inside and went to bed. Dont think that just because I havnt written anything about the heat that it has cooled off. It is still at least 25°c most probably closer to 30°. Taking this into account you can appreciate the JOY I had to walk into a room as cool as, well, as cool as me due to the Air Conditioning. It was a beautiful moment. If I had cried the tears would have frozen. Thus ended the first day, half day to be specific. I dont really know how im going to complete this blog - that was only half a day and its already pushing the amount I write in a normal blog. Looks like im going to be up quite late tonight. I might have to cut it down a bit - so im sorry if it sounds brief.
Breakfast is served at 7. Seemed a bit cruel that I had to get up at 7 to get some old breaky in me - so it was the only time I got up that early. The other days my breakfast was an apple - and I was content with that! After breakfast we ran out the front gate sporting some very nice swimming shorts and a towl around our neck. We went on a bit of a wander and we ended up at a perfectly sandy beach! We giggled and laughed like little girls as we ran across the sand and jumped into the water. It was about 8 am and the water was already warm! Paradise. It was the first time I had swam in the sea for about 4 years! So it was amazing - and amazingly salty! I always seem to forget how salty the sea is! The perfect thing about it was that it was early enough for the sun not to burn - but it was still warm. A pretty perfect combination in my book. We stayed there for ages and then decided to go back to the base. We helped prepare the lunch as we thought we may aswell help out a little bit. After lunch we went out to swim in the sea right across from the base. There was a family staying on the base of which the parents where taking part in the DTS. With them they had 3 of the cutest kids I have ever known. Miranda (5), Sheyla (7) and Shellen (11). It was tricky to get the difference between the two eldest as there names were so similar. I usually just mumbled a mixture of the two and I seemed to get around ever calling them the right name. Good work Phil. So we went out to the front beach with the little tykes and two Irish ladies that we met on the base - Ester and Hannah. They were awesome ladies and they were kind of looking after the kids - so we just played about with them. Now, there was a point somewhere in the excitment that I put on some suncream, however, I did not leave it long enough before the blunge and im pretty sure it just all washed off. 2 hours later and I was burnt. It wasnt as bad as the France burn - but it was tingling for a good few days. I decided, once I had noticed the lovely shade of pink my skin was turning to, to head inside and just hang out untill tea. After that we, Me, Paul, Ester and Hannah, walked around a bit to a area in the centre where there were loads of cafes all in a square. We sat down and had some drinks and walked back again - simple as that but it was a nice evening, even though my shoulders were screaming at me. After that it was time again to retreat into the coolness of the dorm. If you have a facebook account 1. Add me. 2. Check out the Mazatlan photos. In the first part of the album you can see pictures of this dorm. It wasnt a pretty sight!
Again, like before, it was a late wake up and a morning bumming around session. People around the base were always real lazy in the morning so I got to chat to loads of people then. It may be that because of the sunburn I didnt go outside as much and so I was able to talk to more people and so I made a lot of friends! They were all such a welcoming group that I could just slip right into the crew. The only poeple that didnt really seem to want us there were the leaders. I thought that was really weird because I thought they would be the ones that are the most willing to help us out. In fact they were all pretty rude to me and Paul. We didnt really care, its just that we were a bit annoyed that they were acting like that. Anyway, rant over and back to paradise!After that I had lunch and then, due to the sunburn, I didnt venture to much outside. I hate it when I get sun burnt - I guess thats why I should change my ways! In the afternoon we were going out to celebrate one of the students birthdays. The original plan was to go to the cinema and watch the Fantastic 4 movie. I dont really know what happened but we all just ended up in Domino's Pizza scoffing our faces. Perfect. We went back to the base after making quite a mess and, because we didnt watch the film, they set up a projector in one of the big rooms and we watched The Transporter on that. I was not impressed with that movie. Jason Statham is an awesome actor and in films like Snatch he really shines - but I thought this movie was dull and just plain rubbish. Oh well. All the students took it in turns to fart on a pillow. What can I say? It was a Guys evening! Apologies for grossness. It got to the end of the movie and I was happy to just go to bed, back to the cool.
As you have heard I resented getting up at 7 so I let the other guys alarms go off all around me whilst I turned over and tumbled into restless sleep. As soon as someone turns off the A/C the room heats up to the temperature outside. I was amazed (and obviously annoyed) at how quick the change was. It was a morning of bumming about talking to people and helping people out where ever help needed to be helped with. Too many help's in that sentence Philip, cut down wont you? In the afternoon Me and Paul walked all the way along the beach, I reckon quite a few miles, just to see what we could find. We also needed to book the return tickets of our coach so we got that sorted at the same time. AGAIN I didnt use the sun cream. IM AN IDIOT. and the tops of my feet burned. It was weird, they only burned up to the point socks would be, for the rest of the time at the base it looked like I was always wearing pink socks. Lovely. We got a Taxi home because we are nice and lazy and if we walked we would have missed lunch - not something either of us were prepared for! After lunch I sat on the balcony looking out over the sea just listening to music. I have never been so relaxed ever before. It was amzing. At random points I was able to talk to people who came out to - so it was, all in all, a good day! In the evening, after tea (I was impressed at the quality of food that we got on the base, every night it was something awesome) Hannah and Ester took us over to a Juice bar that they had found and I had a Pineapple, Banana, Orange and Mango smoothy. It was huge! Drank that all up and meet up with some of the other girls from the base that were are a different juice bar. I walked them back to the base, as Paul stayed with Hannah and Ester. On the way home there were loads of Policemen and crowds around a restaurant. One of the girls could speak English and so she asked one of the crowd what had happened. About 10 minutes after we had walked past to the juicebar a druglord had been shot dead in the restaurant!! This was the first hit of crime that I had properly seen, althought I didnt see it it was close by, and it brought things home really. Working in the school and at the church was all quite cosy really - and the only impression of Mexico I had had was a friendly one. I know that it is a dangerous place - but I hadnt yet experienced it. I stayed with the girls to make sure they were safe and got back to the base. Everyone else had gone to bed so I just followed the crowd retreating into the cool and fell into a dream.
The mornings are always the same at the base for me - a nice lie in and then I got up, ate my apple and am fully prepared for the day ahead. We only had two days left so we wanted to make full use of them. Alot of people on the base recommended getting the ferry across to Stone Island, south of where we were staying. Me and Paul set off quite soon after breakfast and got on the ferry. On the ferry, well not really ferry - rather boat with a motor, we meet a Swedish lad called Emill. He had just come down from California travelling and we got talking on the trip over to the island. By our destination we were in full flow so I invited him to join me and Paul. The beach was amazing, it just seemed to go on and on and on touching the horizon and pushing even further. The sand was SO hot you couldnt walk on it and the water was clear. We sat under one of those thatched umbrella things you see on all good beachy resorts, got changed and headed out to swim. Soon enough we were all getting hungry so we headed back to the beach and got some food to eat - Breaded Chicken. Perfic. We walked up the beach a bit more and some crazy guy came over to us offering to us the use of his little shelter. We thought it would be a good idea so we went over and set up camp. We went for another swim and got hungry again so we got out and just lazed about a bit. That crazy guy kept coming over offering to get us beers, food, jetski's, banana boat rides, cheap prices on the goods people were selling - everything under the sun! He kept saying things like "Hey man, you dont need money - mangos fall from the trees" or telling us hundreds of times that he got some free fish from a fisherman. It started out quite funny but by the end it was just plain annoying. Then his boss came over and we had to pay for the shelter - sneaky little monkey. It was only $50 - about £2.50 so it wasnt that bad - its just I would have rather have been told about it. We lazed, swam, lazed, swam all day long until about 4.30 when we payed up for the beers we had had and headed back to the ferry. My nose had turned reader by now - but I was smart and I had worn sun cream. Im a big boy now! Emill needed to find a place to stay and book his tickets down to Mexico City so as we ate our tea he went out to do his stuff and came back when we were done. He hadnt eaten since lunch so we took him to the area where the juice bar was and he got some taco's and we got another juice. After some card playing we parted ways and Me and Paul headed back to the base and Emill walked on to his hotel. He was going to hang about with us on Friday because we had told him about a trip to a lighthouse that some of the guys told us about in the day - but more on that later. On the way back we saw some mexicans playing basktball so we went over to watch. They asked if we wanted to play some 2 on 2 and we accepted - Paul is amazing at basketball althoght he dosnt really look it. They kept laughing and they were thinking that it was going to be an easy game. We won 7-5. There friends, who thought they were better, then challenged us straight away after. 7-0. Undefeated. Then some adults challanged us and we lost 5-7. Oh well, we put up a fight and won 2 out of 3 games. I think thats a pretty good ratio. We did the old Mexican hand shake on the guys and headed back to the base. Everyone had gone to bed and so we did the same. A/C saved my life in Mazatlan.
Our last full day in Mexico started out the same as before. Late get up, apple and bumming about the base. This time I was able to help out bringing in the weekly shopping - quite a task when there are about 50 people living on the base. I then helped disinfect all the food because of the dirty water. Good solid fun. ... ... After lunch we rounded up the troops and we headed out to the Lighthouse!!! This lighthouse is the tallest free standing lighthouse in the world!! So it is pretty high up! The climb up was HARD. I was sweating bad by the time we had got to the top - the thing is I didnt bring my glasses because I knew we were going to be jumping around the rocks after wards so I couldnt really enjoy the view. All I could do was take loads of pictures and hope that they came out pretty good so I could enjoy them later. We then started climbing down the back of the hill, which, again, was hard work! It was all rubblely and rocky and one little slip could send you tumbling all the way down. I take quite a bit of pride in the fact that I didnt slip once! Proud of me? Please be so. At the bottom we reach the sea and there are rocks jutting out all over the place. This is where the fun begins! There were two different height cliffs that you could jump off out into the sea. One about 6 meters high and the other about 14 meters high. Im not crazy so I just stuck to the 6 meters jump and I had some awesome jumps... well ... awesome for me. The other guys were properly diving off - I just jumped and flailed arms parthetically. Still fun though. The 3 other guys - Paul, Emill and Caleb - all jumped off the highest one and I tell you I was nervous for them!! They all made it safely and somewhere in this world there is a video on a camera to proove it - im just not really sure where it is. Sometime it will turn up! After this we climbed right back up the rocks and rubble, even harder than climbing up the first time and then down again the other side. We had to get back to the base pretty sharpish because it was the students graduation ceremony from the DTS so they had to get all smart. Me and Paul were invited but I felt like a right idiot because I didnt bring any smart clothes, well, I didnt have any clothes left to wear! I had to borrow a polo shirt off paul and wear some scruffy trousers from the bottom of my bag! When everyone else looked so smart and pretty I sure looked like a prat, whats more my shoes were soaking because we had to jump from the cliffs with shoes on otherwise we would cut up our feet. SO I was wearing someone elses top, some dirty scruffy trousers, shoes that squealched and smelt like a wet dog and a general appearence of a tramp - oh well - all done now! The ceremony was ok. Went on a bit but all the students were able to say good bye to each other and take way to many photos. I cant really pass judgement on 'too many photos' actually as im SURE I take way to many. After that we joined some of the students in a local bar to have some beers and then we headed to a Mexican Nightclub. It was so much fun!!! Better than boring old English ones. To start off they had a live band playing the classicly cheesy songs - 'Man I feel like a women', 'Pretty Women, walking down that street' all that kind of style - so people were just having fun with that. Then a screen came down as the band left the stage and it moved onto the more rave type music. Glowsticks and ballons were thrown out into the crowd and everyone went crazy for a bit. Then a Columbian band came onto the stage and started pumping out the Salsa music. I tried my very best but I cant salsa. Its a shame because once you have got the basics it looks like good fun. Then some other crazy dance called Banga or something... That dance looked even harder...
At about 3.30 am we all poured out of the clubs and into the taxis waiting loyally outside. We got back and, because we were leaving in the morning, we said our goodbyes there and then. I dont think they really sunk in because we were all sooooo tired. At 4.00 am we managed to get into bed and ready for sleep. The only problem is we had to get up at 7.00 to get our stuff ready and get over to the bus depot for our coach that leaves at 8.15. I have NO IDEA why we went for such an early bus - it just seemed a good idea at the time.
After 3 hours sleep I was woken by Pauls rough shaking. I think I had just come out of a real angry dream because I had a real urge to punch him. Perhaps it was due to getting such little sleep. Something like that anyway. We went outside to get breakfast and we were the only ones out there. It was so annoying because we didnt get to say goodbye to alot of people becuase they were all sleeping. At 7.30 we went outside and got a taxi over to the Coach and we got all our lugage sorted. Soon enough we were off on our way leaving behind us Mazatlan, the Heat and a whole load of new friends. I was sorry to leave im deffinetly going to miss those guys - but it had to be done. 8 sleepless hours later and I was back in Guadalajara. You can understand how tired I am writing this. In the past 36+ hours I have had 3 hours sleep but still I find the time to write up this HUUUUUGE blog for you so that you might know a bit about what happened in my last week.
I really hope you read all of that because I tell you what it has taken me a long time! My Oreo's are gone and the milk is warm. I am within stumbling distance from my bed and my eyes are half shut. In 5 days I leave Mexico for a long time. Its sad, but I have America on the horizon. Miss you, Miss Home and All the friends I have made here that I might never see again.
Its good to be back.