2009-2010 Swims (Baja Mexico and Costa Rica)
I have been home for almost 2 weeks now and am finding it extremely difficult to readjust…
My last days in Costa Rica went by so fast, and I am so pleased I was able to complete the whole route this time, bringing the sum total of km swum border to border to 1011 km. Including the 404 km swim in Mexico, this brings the total mileage of my swims so far to over 3000 km! 3041 km, to be exact!
There were glitches once again during these last intense days – Piporro from Jobo, who had agreed to support me with his boat the last 5 days and was asked by the mayor to do this, left me high and dry one morning, refusing to continue for the last 3 days.
Help had to be found quickly, and Recreo, my lovely hosts, were instrumental in seeing this through. It was nerve wrecking, and I have decided that for the next swims I need help in seeing the logistics through. This sudden loss of all support caused me to be quite sick, and I am still undergoing tests for my stomach troubles.
Piporro’s total lack of commitment stunned me and hurt deeply. I had grown to like him, and expected better ethics than what I learned on that dark morning…. he has left me with very bitter memories, and I would have so much preferred fond memories. After all, we shared days in heaven at the MINAET station in Murcielagos.
I have maintained contact with Samba, the head of the MINAET station, and hope he will take me up on my offer to host him for his next holidays at my home in Canada!
My hope is to do a Marine Sanctuaries swim to promote MINAET and have them supply all the logistics next year. PRETOMA has also expressed interest, maybe it could be a collaborative project!
Spring is in the air, and all the Easter lilies are in full bloom right now in my back yard….
Any of you who hosted me or in any way helped me achieve my dream, please consider this a permanent invitation to come stay at my forest sanctuary!
I am here 6 months of the year, the other 6 months I will always be a mermaid, fending for my beloved seas wherever I am needed….
In a few days, a separate thank you letter will go out to all my dear sponsors and supporters without who these swims would be impossible.
I am awed that in altogether 11 full months of marine sanctuaries swims since 2008, I have never, not once, had to pay for so much as a single night’s accommodation. Every single night was lovingly sponsored, and more often than not, by top class hotels!
Although the biggest piece of my heart stayed behind at the most humble of accommodations, the luminous field station at Isla San Jose, in the Archipelago of Murcielagos – a place of ineffable beauty and lyrical wildness….
Description Queridos hermanos y hermanas del mar y de la tierra,
Los últimos 4 días y noches pase en uno de los mas bellos lugares del mundo. Estaba hospedada de MINAET en el archipielago de las islas de Murcielago. Los dos guarda parques , Samba y Cristian, me trataron como una reina. Hubo vientos hasta de 80 km por hora y nunca nade en vientos tan fuertes ni en olas tan altas, hasta 5 mts de altura!
Un lugar tan bello como la península de Santa Elena, lamentablemente esta viviendo una tragedia. Todos los corales alrededor de la península y las Islas Murcielago se murieron en los ultimos 6 meses. Esta es una perdida terrible para el mundo y me da miedo que lo mismo va a pasar con la isla del Caño, donde todavía hay muchísimos corales vivos. Platicando con el señor Manuel Alán, quien me esta patrocinando en Cuajiniquil, en su magnifico Hotel que se llama Santa Elena Lodge (email@example.com ), el me conto algunas de las razones porque los corales estan muriendo:
* La sedimentacion de los ríos hacia el mar, por muchos años de deforestacion.
* Botar las baterias de los focos de los busos comerciales (Langosteros) en el mar,causando exceso de acides y otros venenos.
* Cuando cambian aceite y lo botan en el mar también hay graves consecuencias químicas.
* Las mareas rojas muy fuertes que son causadas por la contaminación.
Nadando ya casi toda la costa pacifica de Costa Rica – hoy cumpli 915 km- estoy en una posición única para juzgar el estado del mar cerca de la costa.
Mirando los cementerios de los corales me hacen llorar. Tomo cientos de años para creer los corales, y en menos de 6 meses murieron todos. Esto es un verdadero Holocausto para los corales y tantos otros seres del mar, como los tiburones, tortugas marinas y tantas otras especies en peligro de extinción.
Tantas veces intente contactar los Guardacostas, Policia o MINAET, cuando veía delitos en proceso, como el robo de langostas en zonas protegidas, pero hasta ahora nunca vino alguien. Es demasiado fácil cometer delitos contra el mar y no tener consecuencias.
La ley es muy lenta, protege mas al criminal que a los vulnerables seres del mar. Incluso la gente que trabaja en vigilancia tiene muy poco poder. Ellos no pueden entrar en embarcaciones para revisar si hay pesca ilegal y solamente cuando están presente cuando el delito esta en proceso en el mar pueden actuar. Entonces trabajan con las manos esposadas y me imagino que se sienten algunas veces bien impotentes. Hasta que haya mas fuerza en las leyes ambientales, se ríen los pescadores que están robando en los mares ilegalmente sabiendo que nada va a pasar. Con esta actitud se van muriendo los mares. Costa Rica tiene muy bonitas leyes ambientales, pero muy poca fuerza en ellas.
Ya es muy tarde y mi escritor Manuel Alan JR ha sido muy paciente con migo. El es el Hijo del dueño del hotel que me esta patrocinado para dos noches. Cenaba con el Alcalde Mathias Gonzaga y con Johnny Mendes de la prensa Diario Extra y Al Día y canal 42 de la TV. Las dos me están apoyando muchísimo, en esta ultima phase de la travesia.
It is already late at night, so this will be a short entry.
Yesterday I had the most exhilarating swim of my life, battling gale force winds and 60 km per hour gusts, just about catapulting me out of the water!
Without my dive ¨sausage¨, it would be far too dangerous to swim in heavy waters like these, but with it, I can dare to swim in waves up to 4 or 5 meters!
Not only that, yesterday was also my first encounter with a big crocodile in the open, it was staring me right in the eyes! I must say this scared me half to death.
I am not afraid of sharks, but I do know that crocodiles will eat you if they are hungry enough and bigger than you, and this one was definitely bigger than me! At first I thought it was a funny looking log, but then it moved, and then it looked at me
most curiously! I have never swam so fast in all my life!
I have once again had endless logistical problems and many sleepless nights due to the last betrayal of someone who, it turns out, simply wished to use me for free advertising for his business.
I will never make the mistake again of promoting someone before they have actually given me the promised sponsorship! So he left me high and dry after getting his pound of flesh out of me, so to speak! And once again, I had to reinvent the boat support, given that he did not come through on the promised 4 boat support days. 2 other companies stepped in after 8 hours on the phone, 1 day with Tranquilamar, and 2, possibly 3 days with Resort Divers.
As much as I love the actual swimming, I am getting to the point of absolute exhaustion with the logistics of it all, and look forward to days of rest at home in 2 weeks!
Even though I will be ever so homesick for the ocean, after all, in Victoria the sea is cold, brrrrr!
I am writing on the computer of the registrations office at hotel resort Ocotal, where I am sleeping in the honeymoon suite for 5 nights….a dream! Thank you, Adriana, for letting me use your computer late at night!
A very good night to all of you, my faithful readers!
Description Queridos hermanas y hermanos del Mar y de la Tierra.
La asistente de gerencia Betsabé Mena me esta regalando su tiempo, experta para digitar y editar.
Siempre estoy feliz cuando pueda evitar digitar en la máquina hasta el mínimo por el daño que tengo en mis brazos, es imposible nadar sin brazos entonces tengo que protegerlos.
Despues de encontrarla ayer por primera vez a Ilena Zanella, la directora de Misión Tiburón, hoy durante mi nado tuve el increíble chance de ver 27 tiburones gatos tomando una siesta.
Primero pensé en formaciones de piedras raras, pero no! estos tiburones estaban totalmente abrazados, grandes con chicos, bebés con mamas y papas, y yo me sentí rodeada de una gran ternura. A veces uno u otro salió del molote, pero momentos después ya regresó y metió su cara bajo otro tiburon.
Estos animales son extremadamente cariñosos uno con el otro.
Yo misma no pude resistir bajar unos 5 metros para tocarlos, ellos estaban tan tranquilos que ni se movieron.
Estos animales ya vivieron en este magnifico planeta mucho antes de los dinosaurios y sobrevivieron extremos cambios climáticos, incluso en los tiempos de hielo.
Cuatrocientos millones de años ya controlan los mares y lo mantuvieron en perfecto equilibrio.
Ahora el hombre con su insaciable avaricia casi puso en extinción 12 especies de tiburones, por querer comer su aleta como afrodiciaco en una sopa, que se vende hasta $400 el plato. Esta venta es como una forma de narcotráfico por el enorme dinero que genera, es ilegal y cuando las embarcaciones llenas llegan, los oficiales del gobierno que deberían de controlar esto están en sus casas.
Los muelles privados donde son secados, nadie puede entrar sin miedo de perder su vida.
De estos muelles son llevados a Taiwan, China, Corea y otros paises asiáticos.
En el 2008 Costa Rica fue el cuarto exportador mundial mas grande de aleta de tiburón “pero claro ya es ilegal” .
Ver estos magníficos seres vivos hoy, refuerzo mi lucha por los tiburones !
Mañana voy a dar charlas, en la mayoría de las Escuelas de Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, despúes voy a tener una conferencia de prensa, gracias a Oscar López que esta organizandolo.
Es tan importante cambiar la imagen que tienen los jóvenes de los tiburones, como un depredador absoluto y cruel, nada mas que una máquina de comer. La realidad es muy diferente.
El Tiburon es el animal mas cazado del mundo ahora y merece nuestra compasión y nuestra lucha para él, como para la ballena, los delfines, las focas.
Espero que con mis travesías al nado, – hoy llegando a los 2729 km nadado en 10 meses – puedo hacer una diferencia en la sobrevivencia de los tiburones, mis hermanos y conectados con todos nosotros…
Queridos Amigos y Amigas:
Hoy llegue a Playas del Coco y tengo la fortuna de tener la ayuda de Daniela para escribir este blog. Daniela es la asistente de Oscar Lopez, el administrador de las Cabinas y Restaurante Donde Claudio y Gloria, donde estoy hospedada y así mismo es quien me patrocina aquí en Playas del Coco.
Antes de llegar aquí, al lado de la isla Catalina, me encontré con una enorme mantaraya. Creo que tenia una longitud de 5 metros y la acompañé durante 10 minutos aproximadamente. Estoy muy feliz con haberla encontrado, porque en los 4 meses de travesia no había logrado ver una.
Ayer participé en el festival de la tortuga Baula en Playa Grande, donde hubieron desfiles con música, bailes tradicionales, pancartas, gente con disfrases haciendo presentaciones teatrales, entre otras actividades.
participaron alrededor de 400 personas, que viajaron de desde muy lejos, incluso escuelas.Durante la noche hubieron más presentaciones en la escena, incluso la famosa cantante Costarricense Guadalupe Urbina. Ella misma se ofreció acompañarme cantando con guitarra, en mi presentación, una canción para Yemaya. Esto fue para mí una experiencia lindísima y hasta improvisamos.Me sentí rodeada de una hermana del mar. Una de sus canciones, la cual canto, también trataba acerca de la invocación para la diosa del mar. Me atreví a presentar el baile Yenvalou de Haití y la aceptación de las personas fue muy positiva.
Una señora mayor se acercó a mí felicitandome para todo lo que estoy haciendo para los mares de Costa Rica, pues ella me dijo que era la exprimera dama de este país. Su esposo ya fallecido, era el señor José Figueres Ferrer, quien fue presidente 3 veces y el que hizo la abolición del ejercito para Costa Rica en 1948. Ella me invitó a una pequeña cena en San Jose, la noche antes de salir del país.
Es para mi, un gran honor recibir esta invitación. Lo extraño es que horas antes de despertar este mismo día, tuve un sueño de un encuentro con la reina de Dinamarca, y resultó que Doña Karen Olsen (ex primera dama) es de origen danés. Nos sentimos inmediantamente conectadas ella y yo cuando ella se acerco a mí. Me pregunté si yo le habia enviado un tipo de vibra o energìa, durante la noche, porque ella no pudo dormir. Ella me dijo que tal vez por mi sueño ella se mantuvo despierta.
Estos dias que estuve en Playa Grande, pude enseñar talleres a los guías y a las damas de Matapalo, e incluso un taller de danza terapia. Esto fue algo completamente nuevo para estas mujeres, y lo disfrutaron muchísimo.
Ayer tuve algunas entrevistas, incluso con Radio Columbia, Canal 11, Repretel, revista Chorotega y otros que no recuerdo su nombre.
Solamente esperaramos que este Parque Nacional Marino de las Baulas, no baje de estatus en su categoria, porque un refugio no tiene las mismas restricciones, importancia y fondos de apoyo que un parque nacional.
Esta es una lucha extremadamente importante. Si un Parque Nacional disminuye su estatus, podría pasar lo mismo con otros, y sería un desastre para la naturaleza.
Ya es muy tarde por aquí, y voy a ir a cenar y disfrutar la hospitalidad de Oscar López y de Javier Rojas, el dueño del lugar. Buenas Noches, un abrazo a todos. ♥
Description Dear Friends,
Today was the wildest day of swimming I have had yet.
Their was a huge wind changing directions every few minutes, and as a result of that, very confusing wave patterns. Or rather no patterns at all. Because the current was against the wind as I was clearing a major headland the waves were very tall and fierce. Some of them as high as 2 meters and breaking at the tops! I must say this was right at the edge of my tolerance for fear. It was equally exciting as terrifying. My boat support said that he had seen several sharks! Unfortunately I only saw one.
Last year, I had done this same swim during the night with absolutely tranquil waters.
I will never forget the bio- luminescence that surrounded me at dark.
Even though I had three men on board today, I felt they were so concerned with the huge waves and how it affected the boat that I worried if they were paying attention to me at all. Thank you, Federico from Carey Dive Centre in La Paz for your lifesaving donation of the “diver below” inflatable “sausage”. Without this, days like today would be too dangerous to swim.
After teaching yet another workshop tonight I am exhausted, but happy to have shared things of the world of dance therapy with the village women of Mata Palo. They were absolutely delighted!
Description Dear friends,
Once again I have found a “willing victim” to type this. His name is Blair and he works at Kike’s Place, my current hotel sponsor.
Yesterday I had my first very long swim day in 5 days and I was gone from 5 am till 6 pm. When I was having dinner afterwards with Judy who is a volunteer for the upcoming turtle festival, I very suddenly fainted in what appeared to be a total circulatory collapse, which was something I have never experienced before, except after giving birth!
Amazingly enough there seemed to be a lot of people who suddenly appeared to help including a British couple who were medics. I must say I enjoyed all the loving attention.
I realized I was at the end of my energies and it is crucial that I take a break after my swim and other activities in the evenings.This evening I gave a workshop to the park guides and it was wonderful to see their enthusiasm regarding their work with the Baula turtles or Leather back turtles, the most endangered of all the marine turtle species. Only 3000 Baulas remain in the Eastern Pacific. 50 % of these nest on Playa Grande where I am sending this from, on a 6 km stretch of beach.
We are fighting to keep this a National Park – please check www.salvemoslasbaulas.org
Dateline Costa Rica: Harmony Hotel, Nosara on Nicoya Penisula, Gunacaste Province
My dear new friend Rebecca Ephraim is once again sitting beside me typing this. My arms have gotten considerably worse, possible due to the yoga class I took yesterday morning which involves a fair amount of pushing upward as in down dog.
Unfortunately, I have only been able to swim two days out of the seven possible days in this section. This is of course terribly disappointing.
Yesterday afternoon I was able to teach a lovely class at a local primary school named Santa Marta and I’ve posted pictures here. The sustainability manager of Harmony Nosara Hotel arranged for this and accompanied me as well as took all the pictures. What’s even better, he sent me the pictures immediately only hours after having taken them! I am so used to soliciting things ten, twenty, thirty times before they actually result in action that it seems near miraculous to have actually someone respond efficiently and immediately. Thank you Gerardo! And thank you Harmony Hotel Nosara for being such a big part of my stay here … so much more than just lodging. Thank you Juliana, and the other receptionists, for making countless calls on my behalf trying to find me boat support. Unfortunately, all of this was unsuccessful.
My dream that I could just swim and teach workshops in Nosara was just a fantasy. I had believed that the women who agreed to organize things in the Nosara area would be working with me throughout my stay here but this has not turned out to be so. I am deeply saddened and disappointed by this lack of connection.
Last year I had the opportunity to also teach at a private school named Del Mar Academy and when I was taken back to the hotel by one of the parents, their kindergarten-aged daughter who had attended one of my workshops there, said to me, with a very serious and inquisitive expression on her face: “When you go in the water to swim, do you have a tail?”
It was the most touching comment I have received from a young child and it showed me that magic is still alive! I so wanted to meet this little girl again and all the others I connected with at Del Mar last year. Strangely, these so much desired connections just did not happen. And it left me wondering why the two ladies even wanted to be involved in my stay; I really didn’t get to spend time with them at all.
Connection is so important to me and I feel so fortunate to have met Rebecca. We spent a beautiful evening at her home last night, an exquisite piece of architecture with a rounded castle-like feel. Watching the sunset from high atop her world while teaching her a beautiful German sunset song (that my mother taught me when I was very young) was a treasured experience that I will savour for a very long time. We watched the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics together — something I had not done in decades. Unfortunately, I fell asleep just after the German team was introduced and Rebecca kindly agreed to drive me to my Harmony bed. Alas, I never saw the theatrical performance that debuted after the introduction of the athletes.
Tomorrow, I will move my base for the first time over land. I usually use transit days as swim days in which the boat deposits me and all my gear at my next hotel or nearest safe beach. The Playa Grande boat support did not wish to pick me up here because of the distance.
I have had to really think hard about the extreme difficulties I have had in acquiring boat support. I almost wonder if, other than wanting much more money than I can afford, there’s another element to the constant refusals of boat support by fishermen. Could it be that the very reason I’m doing these swims is the same reason I cannot solicit dependable boat support from them? I am fighting for marine sanctuaries. That is, marine protected areas … that are areas of no fishing (or other lethal activity such as shark finning). The very people I have to depend on for boat support are the very ones who are most often involved in the decimation of marine species. From their perspective it makes perfect sense that they don’t want to support me.
I am so exhausted from all this struggle that any future swim will have to be organized by a major marine protection organization where I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day or two. I am so pleased that PRETOMA will work with me on next year’s big swim project.
Last night while still at Rebecca’s, I received a wonderful phone call from Ronaldo, the captain of the FECOPT vigilance boat that accompanied me and the two girls undergoing the marine rite of passage in the Golfo Dulce a few weeks ago. He just called to see how I was doing! What a treat. He was a boat support driver who was truly kind and loving and deeply cared for me and the girls. It would have been so wonderful to have him throughout the journey!
The difference a good support boat capitan makes to a good swim day is absolutely phenomenal! I am sure that Ronaldo’s loving care for us and desire to have the girls complete their rite of passage was a big part of the miracle of them crossing the 19-kilometre Golfo Dulce in nine-and-a-half hours. Having received his call last night I realized that he has continued accompanying me throughout the journey in his soul. And this comes as a great solace to me. Sometimes I do feel terribly lonely and wonder if what I am doing is actually making a difference.
When I gave my employee workshop at Harmony Hotel Nosara I noticed that one man in particular asked many intelligent questions and seemed a 100% present for every second of my presentation. Since the housekeeping staff was liberated from their duties to attend this workshop I assumed that he worked in housekeeping. When he asked me the following day if I might gift him with a shark educational poster I found out that he was Jorge Arrieta, actually the general operations manager of the Cayuga Hotel chain ( www.cayugaonline.com ), that includes the most beautiful and sustainably managed hotels in the country. Yes, I realize my work makes a difference!
The little commitment ceremony, with which I conclude all my workshops and which is totally voluntary, included commitments by both him and the Harmony Nosara manager, Irene Morales. I was astonished to witness Irene’s commitment to stop eating seafood altogether … and quite humbled by the strength of her convictions!
When I brought up the idea with Jorge that Cayuga Hotels might consider being Costa Rica’s leader in choosing to provide only sustainably harvested seafood, I met with a very positive response. He was actually leaving for San Jose when we had our brief conversation and so, upon reflection, the turn of events that lead to my boat support falling through, made it possible to have this conversation with him. It also gave me the time to get to know Rebecca. Since she has worked in the world of media for many years including as a news anchor for NPR (National Public Radio), I am hoping that she might be able to connect me with media sources that could lead to more coverage of my work.
This morning Rebecca took me to a beautiful local organic farmers’ market where I had the chance to meet Cy Rinkel, with whom I will create a labyrinth at the beach during the sunset hour today. I really look forward to this ceremonial activity shared with a sister on the journey! Besides being a wonderful artist, Cy is a gifted chiropractor and I’m looking forward to a lessening of the pain I’m feeling these days through her healing hands. Moments of serendipity like these reconnect me with a greater knowing — despite things falling apart on the surface there may be other reasons why things happen or don’t happen the way they do.
I hope I will have the opportunity to see the world’s largest turtle, the famous leatherback turtle, 50% of which come ashore at Playa Grande to lay their eggs. There are only 3,000 of these magnificent creatures left in the Pacific worldwide. There’s threat of development along this beach which would spell the end of the leatherback turtle in the Pacific. I hope that my presence during my stay there next week will make a difference to the leatherback trust’s (TLT) struggle in keeping this park (Parque Nacional de las Baulas) nationalized. The TLT is sponsoring me there and obviously trusts that I can support them in their very vital struggle.
After witnessing the Olive Ridley turtle arribada (mass arrival) in Ostional earlier this week — approximately 5,000 turtles arrived the night I went – my appreciation for turtles increased even more. The extreme care in which they dig their nests – exactly forty centimetres deep – speaks to a wisdom so deep that we can only stand humbled. We humans are arrogant in thinking we know so much and yet these ancient beings travel thousands of miles by sea to arrive at exactly the same spot on the beach where they hatched from their eggs. No one fully understands why Ostional has the world’s largest arribadas of turtles on a monthly basis; this phenomenon has been observed for the last 30 years. I wonder if Ostional has very unusual magnetic fields or “ley” lines?
That this dream of mine would come true to actually see an arribada, which only happens two-three nights a month has me very satisfied. First Nation’s people often refer to the Earth as Turtle Island. The turtle holds such a special place in the hearts of so many. She straddles both the marine and terrestrial worlds; she is a migratory being. She’s a traveler, is utterly harmless, and vulnerable to our addiction to plastic bags carelessly thrown in the ocean, which she eats thinking it’s a jellyfish and dies.
And she’s absolutely essential to our survival on this planet.
Description Dear Friends of the sea and the land,
Once again I am blessed with the presence of a beautiful woman who is sharing dinner and typing this for me tonight. Her name is Rebecca Ephraim. I have in the past admired Rebecca’s work as publisher of SharedVISION magazine, which is one of my favorite publications in British Columbia.
Rebecca volunteered to pick me up today after my swimming but had a great deal of trouble finding me. I must say it was well worth the wait. I realize how much I miss the company of a kindred sister. Mostly, I hang with fish. After all, eight hours a day I am suspended, gliding through the otherworldly beauty of the blue green ocean. And occasionally graced by the presence of a fellow swimmer in the form of a fish or a turtle and on a rare occasion, a whale, dolphin or shark.
Today, unfortunately, once again, I came across problems with my boat support. It was not the first time to find out my support boat did not carry enough fuel for the journey. It always makes me acutely aware of the juxtaposition of struggling to reduce our carbon footprint, then, on the other hand, in my very environmental swim actions I am actually dependent on fossil fuels to make my efforts safe. I can only hope that the fuel that is used in keeping me safe while swimming off-shore will be more than made up for by the positive impact the swim actions have on people who might change some of their ways after listening to one of my presentations.
There is very little in the way of planning in the world of fishermen … or thought about “later today” or “tomorrow” or “next year”. It is more like: reap the most profit with the least possible amount of effort. For today this meant that the boat driver suggested we should stop at noon and return to base since there simply was not enough fuel to continue swimming. Needless to say, I did not agree with this at all and proceeded to call the owner of the boat. Because he probably realized I was not going to pay the full price if I did not get the full day, he chose to deliver the fuel and I lost only one hour!
I sense the world of the fishermen operates like this in many ways. It doesn’t matter if the fish is on the endangered list — if it’s swimming in the sea it’s to be taken and turned into money.
I admire PRETOMA so much for working with fishermen to effect change in their attitude toward their unlimited access to sea life.
Last week, the boat driver who drove the PRETOMA boat, accompanied by PRETOMA support, wore a t-shirt every single day, which said “fishermen saving sharks” [Pescadores salvando tiburones]. The image and the words really stuck with me since 100-million sharks per year are killed for their fins alone. It’s good to know that at least some fishermen are rethinking their attitude of their “God given right to take anything and everything out of the sea until it’s all gone.”
The gap seems so huge between viewing the seas as simply a thing to be ripped off, exploited to the last drop, used and turned into a garbage bin and toilet, and my sense of the sea as sacred. This view is shared by many of the great Pagan religions.
During the Transatlantic slave trade, the last prayer and word on the lips of the slaves who were thrown overboard in the Middle Passage would have been: “Yemaya” or “Mamiwata” or “Agwe” or any of the other names given to that which is the sea and Her deepest essence.
I can’t wait to take Ashley, the staff writer for the Voice of Nosara newspaper swimming with me this weekend … there’s talking about the sea and then there IS spending eight hours in the sea. And no amount of talking could possibly transmit what only the Sea, Herself, can transmit directly. To feel waves pushing you forward from behind hour-after-hour, massaging you in the nape of your neck between strokes, dissolving all of your yesterdays into the great Now, feeling your skin become salt water and your blood join the river of life is ultimately indescribable and must be lived.
I feel that to truly be an ambassador of the sea involves spending a great deal of time in the sea. I would love to see all those of us who are fighting for the causes of the sea spend more time within Her. It is impossible to encounter burnout when you are immersed everyday in Her ineffable power.
Tomorrow, again, I do not have boat support. Therefore, I hope to be able to give several workshops to the employees and staff of the beautiful Harmony Hotel in Nosara. I also look forward to the possibility of spending some more time with Rebecca, who would like to share her ideas on strengthening my marketing skills, which are actually quite nonexistent.
I am delighted and astonished to have her still with me right now at 11:00pm, way past anybody’s bedtime here in Costa Rica and sharing her speed-typing and editing skills with me so you all get to read this.
I have now managed to swim 564 kilometres so far and have about 300 to go — assuming I can find boat support. Once again it seems to have been my fantasy that the Nosara base was totally looked after. I seem, once again, to be looking for boat support all by myself and the sponsorship I assumed to be complete for boat support is only partial. Let’s hope things work out better at the next base. Since the Parque Nacional de las BauIas and the International Wildlife Fund are sponsoring me, I would imagine there would be less likelihood for things to be falling apart so often … though of course it’s no guarantee!
Since a full hour was lost today in the acquisition of new fuel I decided to extend the day, which meant driving the boat back during sunset and through turbulent waters. It was a spectacularly beautiful and perfect sunset and to experience our little boat in such large — sometimes circular and cresting waves — was incredibly exciting … and a bit scary. Of course, I kept worrying that we would run out of fuel again. It would not have been the best place to run out because of multiple breaker lines and many submerged rocks.
I wish you all magical moments in your day or night. And that you will take a moment to connect with the living non-human beings around you and share your wonderment in a loving and kind gesture to at least one of them.
Description Dear Friends,
I have the great fortune to sit with a beautiful woman named Ashley Steyaert who is a writer and editor of the Voice of Nosara Newspaper. In fact, I’ve sweet talked her in to writing this for me. We just finished a wonderful dinner of Sushi at my sponsoring hotel Harmony Hotel Nosara. Ashley came to my workshop at the Yoga House which I gave this evening, there were 15 people present, young and old, and middle aged. There were Germans, Americans and Costa Ricans present and there was a great deal of interest in the current situation of the oceans.
I will be here in Nosara as a base until Sunday, when my base will move to the Parque Nacional de las Baulas en Playa Grande where the IWF (International Wildlife Fund) is sponsoring me and I will have the opportunity to give a number of workshops for children and adults in the community.
Today I had a phenomenal swimming day. It became very windy in the early afternoon with steep and choppy waves and I decided to dare myself to swim in between two rock islands, my favorite swimming activity. Waves in between islands are created by the pressure of the water being pushed between rocks and tend to be irregular and large; these were positively huge, I reckon around 4 meter and came awfully close to breaking, although they never did on me.
There’s that magical place right next to sheer terror when the fear lets up for a second and in it’s place is a space of absolute bliss and an overwhelming sense of gratitude to the ocean and life. I can only submit myself to the rhythms of these huge waves and breathe with them and let them propel me forwards. I am definitely not in charge here. That which is in charge is what moves the sun and the moon and everything on the planet. For me swimming in big seas and in between rocks like this is the closest I can get to being with that which sways all life.
It is incredibly invigorating and when people ask me if I am exhausted at the end of a swim day I always say “No, not at all. I feel more awake then when I started in the morning”. I have been asked “What is it that gives you the energy to do what you’re doing?” My answer to that is “Yemaya, the goddess of the sea, the mother of all life”. I swim with the sea, never against. Sometimes as today I find the current moves in one direction, and the wind and waves in another. It is a very powerful juxtaposition and creates strong pushes and pulls on the body mind. While the white caps are breaking in my face, my legs feel the pull forward.
I love watching fish being swayed and moved by large currents and waves and the way they surrender to this perpetual motion. There is such an elegance to the way schools of fish dance with they rhythms of the sea. While there is a sense of choreography as a group, definitely individuals make choices. But it always seems to flow within a greater group sense, something we humans find so very difficult to do.
My boat support today worked for many years as a shark-finner. When he was 13 years old he began this terrible work slicing off the fins of these magnificent animals and throwing them back to the sea to die a slow and agonizing death. I wonder what it would be like for a 13 year old boy to have to cut off his own soul to do this work, presumably for survival. Today, Ferry is a kind gentleman who helped me make a police call about an illegal group of fisherman who were spear fishing. He did not want his name mentioned since he lives here and everybody knows him. Not only did I call the police, I also called Radio Columbia to see if they wanted to carry this as a news item. Illegal fishing is a serious problem in Costa Rica, a country which has very pretty environmental laws, but next to no law enforcement. So basically there is no incentive for fishermen to change their ways because they know the consequence is almost zero.
On my whole journey so far I have seen altogether 3 little white tipped reef sharks, all around Isla del Caño where there is a 1.5 km protected marine belt around the island. I have an invitation to spend a few days on this island where normally only MINAE staff can stay. The invitation comes from a Parks Warden and is almost irresistible. If there’s any way I can figure out how to spend my last days there before returning to Canada, I would go to great lengths to see it through. There’s no doubt in my mind that the coral reef around Isla del Caño is the most beautiful in the country. To spend several days exploring it in detail would be a dream come true. I would also hope to be able to convince MINAE to support a future swim project, although I’m not sure what power Park Wardens have in influencing such a project.
When I first arrived in Nosara I had hoped for a reception at the beach by the community members I knew from last year…sadly this did not happen. It was the same day as Super Bowl and mermaids can’t compete with football. Then the following morning it turns out that the boat driver that had been selected as my support boat driver flat out refused to work for the $100 per day salary. So once again, I was back to the drawing board. Thanks to the bar tender Anthony at Harmony Hotel Nosara who has a friend with a boat I am able to continue swimming. It is so wonderful to see that even a hotel will get involved in helping out when there is a short fall of suitable boat support personnel.
It is already almost 11:00 at night and way beyond my bed time! I realize how wonderful it was to have secure boat support for a full 7 days thanks to Pretoma and I really hope to be able to do another, larger swim project associated with Pretoma in the future. I was so pleased to work with Eric, the field staff in Punta Coyote and Amado the Pretoma boat captain. I never felt they were going to lose me, and they always had a smile for me at every break. Eric got in the water with me many times and it was such a pleasure to not swim alone for once. To see his excitement spread through his face every time he saw a turtle was contagious. And to share so much time with a fellow activist who lives activism day by day and whose activism comes straight out of his heart was a great relief and I found I slept better in that week in Punta Islita than in the entire journey so far. Thank you Eric, thank you Amaro, thank you Randall! And thank you to everyone at Punta Islita for giving me a week in heaven, a week I will never forget.
Description Buenos días, mis hermanos y hermanas del mar, de la tierra, de las plantas y de los arboles y mis queridos amigos.
Hoy tengo la oportunidad de tener el apoyo de Marvin, que es concierge en Hotel Punta Islita. Esta es la primera vez que un hotel que me patrocina, también ofrece ayudarme a digitar este blog. Yo estoy muy agradecida por esta generosa oferta, ya que, tengo un problema en los hombros y el digitar, lo hace mucho peor. Como no deseo tomar medicamentos por estar nadando, he aceptado este hermoso gesto. Una hermosa mariposa se nos ha unido y después de volar alrededor por un rato, se ha colocado cómodamente sobre la cabeza de Marvin. Él dice que viene por quince minutos cada semana y se queda allí. Hay tantas conexiones entre animales y gente que no entendemos. Ayer una hermosa tortuga Carey se pozó junto a mí cerca de Cabo Blanco, nadó conmigo por un gran rato y no dudo que ella estaba tan curiosa acerca de mí como yo lo estaba de ella. Las tortugas Carey son una especie en extinción tanto como las otras tortugas marinas. De hecho ayer ví cinco, la mayor cantidad que haya visto nunca en ninguna parte. Tal vez es porque el bote que me acompañaba era el de Pre (protección) to (tortuga) ma (marina), Pretoma, una organización que protege activamente a las tortugas. Por supuesto la razón principal es porque Cabo Blanco es un área protegida como reserva absoluta. Fue la primera vez que un bote me ordenó salir del agua. El bote no estaba identificado con ninguna marca oficial, el hombre que habló con Eric el asistente, no se identificó excepto por una camiseta del Minae que llevaba puesta. Claramente las diferentes ramas del Minae no se comunican muy bien. Él no tenía idea de quienes eramos, y tomó una larga conversación para convencerlo que yo no estaba envuelta en alguna actividad ilegal y que yo estaba luchando por las mismas causas él estaba luchando. Mientras el me acosaba, habían dos botes pescando ilegalmente sin ser molestados. También vimos una larga línea y un trasmayo que no se veía que tuviera el mismo acoso que tenía mi nado inofensivo. Las leyes ambientalistas de Costa Rica se ven muy hermosas desde afuera, pero lo que tantos extranjeros es que la aplicación de la ley es casi inexistente. Por lo tanto las leyes son hermosas pero ineficientes. Pretoma tiene varias demandas en proceso, pero el motor de la ley es muy lento y toma muchos meses para tramitarse en las cortes. Estoy muy contenta Pretoma me está apoyando en este proyecto, esta semana al proveerme de su bote, al capitán Amado y a su asistente Eric.
He estado esperando este tipo de colaboración con una organización ambientalista desde el año 2007 en el que empecé a nadar por la protección de santuarios marinos . Espero este sea el comienzo de la cooperación entre diferentes organizaciones ambientalistas y yo en el futuro en todos los países en los que voy a nadar. En estos momento de la historia de la humanidad es crucial que aquellos quienes se apasionan por la tierra se unan, se conecten.
Tan pronto como llegué a este maravilloso hotel, Marvin, la primera persona con la que me reuní en este maravilloso Hotel Punta Islita, me tomó en una conversación inmediatamente. Y mientras me decía que computadoras eran más eco-amigables, yo le decía como los mariscos eran pescados. Hay tanta gente que no sabe como se desperdicia solo para conseguir un camarón jumbo. Imaginese que cuando usted mira un camarón jumbo en su plato además hay un atún, caballo de mar, tortuga,delfín, tiburón, hasta 10 especies de vida marina. Yo no sabía que esto estaba ocurriendo hasta 13 meses atrás, hasta que el director de Pretoma, Randall Araus me lo dijo.
Mientras conducíamos hacia una reunión sobre la conservación de las tortugas con diferentes organizaciones conservacionistas, Randall me dio un curso intensivo acerca algunos de los más desagradables métodos de pesca del planeta. Además, 100 millones de tíburones mueren al año para proveer su aleta a la sopa; que se sirve en la sopa de aleta de tíburón en la mayoría de los países asiaticos y en un restaurante chino en La Paz, Baja California, Mexico.
La violación a los mares debe detenerse. Ayer mientras estaba admirando un hermoso róbalo en el agua. Pensé ver una lagrima en los ojos de ese pez. Aunque sé que fue mi imaginación no tengo duda que inclusive los peces tienen la capacidad de conectarse con otros seres, e inclusive, más que algunos de nosotros, quienes viven vidas tan desconectadas y no sienten compasión por las vidas de seres solo por ser diferentes.
Es aquí en donde entran los talleres. En mis talleres, a través de diferentes actividades yo trato de reconectar las personas consigo mismas, con otras y con la naturaleza. El activismo exitoso depende del sentido de conexión con la naturaleza. De otra manera, se pierde el sentido del propósito, de lo que significa y sientes que te ahogas.
Bueno, ya es tiempo para una reunión con el gerente de este maravilloso hotel, para planificar los detalles de los talleres de mañana. Agradezco a la tierra que me está recibiendo con los brazos abiertos, al océano que me lleva en sus alas cada día y a toda la gente que ha hecho esto posible, y a tí que estás leyendo esto, por importarte nuestra querida tierra.
Description Dear friends,
This evening, I arrived at my next base, the spectacular Punta Islita hotel, high up on a hill with a splendid view of the sea.
I feel so lucky to have been invited to stay here for the next week!
While I was waiting for my dinner, I began to read the book that was on my bed, written by the CEO of Punta Islita, Eduardo Villafranca sargent, entitled Social Responsibility, Product of our Spiritual Intelligence.
What a beautiful book! I feel so at home here, philosophically, spiritually and physically.
I get to sleep on down pillows, and under a light down duvet, wonder of wonders! And nourish my body with LOccitaine products from the South of France – how much more pampering can there be?
I am looking forward to the tour about the environmental practices of the hotel, and giving my 2 workshops over the next days.
While I waited for the glorious dinner, I looked at the starry sky, since the lighting was so subtle that it did not take away from the sky lighting!
I had an emotional Good Bye in Quepos with Mayreth, the maid at Villa Lirio who took such good care of me. I sensed her creativity and pride in her work and her sensitivity towards the needs of her client in the way she placed my pillows, including at the foot end – no one has ever done that! – because my thrombosis problems require that I sleep with my legs elevated. This was such a touching gesture.
For her, I was the first guest to recognize her special touch and depth of feeling towards the Guest. Her love in all the little gestures was palpable, just walking into the room after she had arranged it made me feel nurtured. I think that she is a truly great soul who has taken on for this lifetime humble work to better let her beauty flow out…
Freely given love and beauty is such a gift…
With all the frustrations I have had with boatsupport, there are moments of such transcendent kindness here in Costa Rica that it stops my breath…
And today a shimmering little fish with phosphorescent blue stripes chose to swim with me for the entire 3 hours I was able to swim near Montezuma, right in front of my mask as if showing me the way home – , also a gift of immense connection with the loving children of the Sea Mother to who I have dedicated my life..
A big hug to all of you who read this!
Description Dear Friends,
Once again, I have the good fortune to have a new friend type this for me! Her name is Katherine Monroe, and she is a river guide for H2O Adventures. We just finished running the Upper Naranjo, known as El Chorro, a class 4 and 5 section that I have also had the pleasure to be invited on last year. This year, there was even less water than last year, due to global climate change and less rainfall during the supposed rainy season that was unusually short this year. Within a week, H2O Adventures will be forced to portage the biggest rapids because it will no longer be safe to run them. Today, the guides had to jump out at the steepest rapids in order to wiggle us free so that we could actually get into the main chute. In fact, the main chute has changed from last year. Just like human beings, rivers change course. Rocks change positions, water will flow in different patterns. Each river is really a sacred being and has a personality, just like the ocean. Before I enter a river, I always ask permission of the River Goddess- in Brazil, she is known as Oshun, and one of the most beautiful sacred dances within the Candomble tradition in Brazil. In fact, Axe Capoeira, the magnificent performance group my son Silvan is teaching and performing in, always performs this dance at every show. The reason I return on March 13 to Canada is to attend the 10th anniversary show at Victoria’s biggest and most reputable theatre in which my son will star prominently.
When I take people in the water with me, I always include them in the song to Yemaya, the Brazilian ocean Goddess within Candomble. This sign of respect toward the ocean or the river is very much part of my contribution towards the healing of relationships between oceans, rivers, and people. As much as we need to understand biodiversity in nature, we also need to understand and honor spiritual and religious diversity. There are so many ways to approach the unknown, the Great Mystery. For me, as a woman, it is easier to address in the form of Goddess.
Description Dear Friends,
Once again, I was let down by yet another boat driver. So no swimming today….He invented a sting ray sting, but that only happens to swimmers at the edge of the beach when they accidentally step on a sting ray, and it defends itself, inflicting a very painful sting. Fishermen usually do not play on the beach, they are usually in a boat!
I am starting to realize that the very people I depend on to help out with my swim, are the same people who have wrecked the ocean in big and small ways, by thinking about only one thing – how to squeeze as much money out of the ocean, as fast as possible, as intensely as possible.
Since I can only offer a modest salary – to earthbound Costa Ricans, actually a fabulous salary! – most fishermen would rather go hungry to wait for the BIG catch, than work for my measly 100 bucks a day!
My budget is so small that I can not go up with this salary, nor do I feel it would be worth what I usually get, a smelly fishing boat without safety gear, no radio, no ladder, extra water, often no life jackets, anchor, rope, mirror or flashlight, all legal requirements!
Their sense of what their service is worth is often incredibly inflated, and totally outside the regular economy of the country.
Just like it is now in to call oneself green, fishermen now all want to be called artisan, even though they use 2 km long lines with 2000 hooks on them. A far cry of real artisan fishing, which means only using one line with at most 4 hooks on it.
Somehow I must try to find myself a boat support person who is environmentally oriented and actually understands that this project benefits everyone in the end!
I just received an invitation of a 5 star hotel in an isolated, beautiful location that even wants 2 workshops, one for the employees – a first! – and one for the community. Punta Islita Lodge is known for its involvement in the community, and I am so pleased they have chosen to sponsor this project!
It will be so much more comfortable than staying at the PRETOMA research station where I would be sleeping on the floor in the living room, not a good thing after swimming a full marathon daily! However, I am so glad they are letting me use their research vessel and boat captain for the week there…
Today I took advantage of an invitation by Manuelantonioexpeditions.com to actually walk the park with a guide, and learned some fascinating facts – spider moms are eaten by their kids,
as much as they eat their mate! I actually dared myself to test the strength of an orb weavers web, and found it to be so very strong. And her mate so very, very tiny!
Tomorrow I have an invitation to go rafting with H2O Rios Tropicales on the Naranjo River, a class 4 and 5 run! This will be my second rafting trip here, the first, on the river Savegre with Amigos Del Rio, was a lot easier than this one will be!
At least I have made good use of my time without boat support here, and have been invited on tours every single day, sometimes even 2 in a day! However, nothing compares to swimming in the deep and big waves for me, and I would rather be swimming or giving presentations anytime.
I am, however, starting to burn out on the organizational end, and urgently need an assistant. Insomnia has taken hold of me and I am always fully awake at 4 am, no matter what…
Also, I seem to have developed gastritis, and am using some pretty strong medication for it, on the advice of a pharmacist. I have not had time to see a doctor. This will have to wait until I get home…
When I asked some kind strangers this afternoon, after the tour, to watch my belongings while I went swimming at one of the beautiful Manuel Antonio beaches, the family immediately recognized me from TV, and offered me to partake in their picnic lunch!
I am always so touched by the hospitality of working class Ticos…
My upper arms hurt a lot from typing on the computer, – tendonitis – so I must close for today!
Description Dear Friends,
Today was a very important day since I had the opportunity to introduce myself to the mayor of Quepos, who donated approximately $150 to the cause, as well as the ministers of the environment, health, and tourism, at an event in Manuel Antonio Park.
I do hope that especially the ministry of tourism will choose to support this swim, and was so pleased to be able to have lunch beside the Director of Marketing, Maria Amalia Revelo, the person who could make things happen fast, and who was charming and very interested in the project.
Tomorrow I am back in the water, and can not wait to be immersed again – the last 2 days were long, but this meeting today was absolutely crucial, and I feel very positive about it.
Sometimes, when things fall apart, other things move into place, and sometimes they are even more important!
The lunch was once again at the beautiful Si Como No Hotel restaurant, and so I got to see my new friends from there again! What a treat!
I am now installed in Hotel Villa Lirio for the next 3 nights, a sponsorship directly from the hotel owner Robert!
Description Dear friends,
I have the good fortune to have a new friend type this for me, she is a dive instructor with Oceans Unlimited (www.oceansunlimitedcr.com) who I have know during the last 2 swims through the Quepos area. I am actually in Katharine Evans’ home right now since she has kindly agreed to host me, not only that, Oceans Unlimited invited me on a wonderful dive two days ago and it is such a pleasure to spend an evening with a person who loves the oceans as much as I do.
It is not often that I have the opportunity to discuss at lengths with a like minded soul why a Surgeon fish would swim with a school of Grunts and what they are thinking about. It is actually a great relief to share conversation with a person that understands what the Ocean means to humans in Her multi-layered messages. To share the depth of presence that we both experience when in Her arms and to realize that there others out there that have a similar connection with the sea makes me feel really at home here.
I have really missed this kind of a personal connection on this journey.
Of course I enjoy the luxury of beautiful hotels like Si Como No, that has hosted me for the last 4 nights, but my spirit really aches for the connection with someone who’s life is really connected to and dependent on the sea. Since I have 3 more evenings here, I hope to spend more time with my new found friend.
Yesterday’s swim was in the powerful rock islands of Manuel Antonio, crossing the entire park. There is a very deep magic is swimming close to these rock beings that cause the sea to rise an fall in amazing rhythmic patterns that remind me of child birth.
Just like labour, there tends to be 2 really Big contractions or really big big waves and then some breathing space before the next big set starts.
As I had hoped and mentioned in my last blog, when I swam through the big waves where in my first swim I had my Epiphany, I was graced with that same moment of total bliss, at the same location. There was the same moment or two of terror about the waves that encircled me and then, following right in the wake of terror, a sense of oneness with the Ocean.
I so would love to transmit this level of inner knowing with the people whose lives I touch during my swim. Unfortunately, so many people who fight for the Ocean do this sitting at a computer terminal or in an office. It is easy to burn out or lose focus when you are not in touch with the great force the Ocean can transmit to someone that is willing to surrender to Her.
My swimming is taking on a more and more contemplative focus.
I am obviously not a competitive swimmer, and in Playas del Coco I will be joined by a group of Triathletes for one days swim, and that somewhat frighten me, because I fear that they will expect me to swim much faster than I do!
However, perhaps I will be able to give them a non-adversarial experience in which they might learn to love a way of swimming that surrenders to the movement of the oceans and to work with it rather that against it.
I consider the Ocean my lover. I realize that for many athletes this is not how they relate to their activity. Perhaps my form of swimming could be related to the slow cooking movement! I take advantage of winds and currents, and swim in both directions, joining sections together.
Today, because of a conflict with my current boat driver, I went on a lovely tour with Titi Canopy (www.titicanopytours.com) and was happy to finally see 2 poison dart frogs! I learnt from the very knowledgeable guide, Luis, that the indigenous people that used the frogs’ poison for the poison darts did not kill the frogs, just rubbed the spear tip on the frogs’ back. This is so different to our modern way of extracting resources from nature with no respect to life lost.
I think that one day our great grand children will look back on Sport Fishing as a barbaric entertainment at the expense of an animal fighting for its life, which often dies of exhaustion as the result of the chase.
It is so different when you swim with fish and experience their beauty and amazing lyricism and choreography underwater.
At the end of a swim day in heaving waves, or when I close my eyes when I go to sleep, I am right back feeling pulled and pushed by the waves even if I am in a comfortable bed.
It is late and time to close now, I am dreaming that I will be able to have one last opportunity that I will get to go to Isla del Cano with Katharine, and that there will be one empty seat on that boat.
Isla del Cano feels like my home and is the one place that I know intimately from another life.
Description DEAR FRIENDS AND SONS,
2 DAYS AGO I HAD QUITE THE SCARE SINCE I COULD NOT GET INTO MY EMAIL AT ALL. IT WOULD NOT ACCEPT MY PASSWORD, THUS YOU HAVE NOT HEARD FROM ME IN 3 DAYS!
THANKFULLY, IT SEEMS TO HAVE CORRECTED ITSELF, AFTER CHANGING MY PASSWORD SEVERAL TIMES!
THE LAST 2 DAYS I DID NOT HAVE BOAT SUPPORT, THUS TOOK ADVANTAGE OF A FEW TOURS THAT WERE DONATED TO ME. TODAY I WENT DIVING JUST OUTSIDE OF THE FAMOUS MANUEL ANTONIO PARK, BUT THE VISIBILITY WAS RATHER POOR, AND I REALIZED ONCE AGAIN THAT I ACTUALLY LIKE THE SURFACE OF THE WATER BETTER THAN DOWN UNDER….OCEANS UNLIMITED IN QUEPOS KINDLY DONATED 2 DIVES THIS MORNING TO ME, AND THE DIVE GUIDE FEDERICO WAS ACTUALLY QUITE WONDERFUL AND KIND. NO SHARKS, THOUGH, NO TURTLES, NO DOLPHINS, AND VERY FEW FISH….AND JUST ONE NUDIBRANCH, ONE OF MY FAVOURITE CREATURES….
THIS WAS IN AN AREA I WILL BE SWIMMING TOMORROW, SPLENDIDLY BEAUTIFUL, BIG WATER, SURGING WAVES, ROCK ISLANDS EVERYWHERE. IT INCLUDES THE PLACE OF MY EPIPHANY THE FIRST YEAR, WHEN ILONA KENDE CAME ALONG FOR THE DAY. IT WAS MY FIRST TIME SWIMMING IN REALLY BIG, CIRCULAR WAVES THAT SURGE YOU IN AND OUT AND AROUND AND LET YOU KNOW WHO IS ACTUALLY IN CHARGE. AFTER PASSING THROUGH MOMENTS OF SHEER TERROR, I FELL INTO A PLACE OF ABSOLUTE BLISS AND SURRENDER TO THE GREAT MOTHER OF ALL LIFE, OUR OCEAN. I FELT LIKE A LITTLE, LITTLE CHILD HELD IN HER ARMS, AND CRADLED AND SOOTHED. IT WAS ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS IN LIFE THAT CONNECTS YOU TO ALL THAT IS, WHAT SOME RELIGIONS CALL COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS, BEING ONE WITH ALL CREATION.
OF COURSE I HOPE THAT SOMETHING LIKE THIS WILL HAPPEN TO ME AGAIN TOMORROW AS I SWIM THROUGH THE SAME PLACE!
THE DAY I ARRIVED IN QUEPOS I MANAGED TO SWIM THROUGH SOME INCREDIBLY BIG, CIRCULAR WAVES, TO ME ALWAYS ABSOLUTE BLISS, A SENSE OF LOSING ONESELF AND GAINING THE MOMENTUM OF THE GREAT SEAS.
WHEN WE ARRIVED BACK FROM THE DIVES TODAY, A TRAWLER, OR SHRIMPER, WAS JUST ARRIVING AT THE SAME DOCK. THERE IS ALWAYS SUCH AN EVIL FEELING WHEN I SEE ONE OF THESE INCREDIBLY DESTRUCTIVE, UGLY BOATS. 98 % OF WHAT THEY DRAG UP IS THROWN BACK INTO THE SEA, OFTEN ENTAILING DEAD SEAHORSES, TURTLES, DOLPHINS, BABY SHARKS, AND COUNTLESS OTHER SEALIFE. ONLY 2 % IS ACTUALLY SHRIMP, OR PRAWNS….WHAT A TERRIBLE WASTE. IT IS ONE OF MY AGENDAS TO CONVINCE PEOPLE HERE AND EVERYWHERE TO STOP BUYING PRAWNS UNTIL THIS INSANITY HAS ENDED GLOBALLY. THERE ARE BETTER WAYS TO CATCH PRAWNS, LIKE TRAPS.
I AM ONCE AGAIN EXHAUSTED, and STILL DO NOT KNOW WHERE MY JACO BASE WILL BE, NOR WHAT BOAT WILL ACCOMPANY ME THERE. THIS IS ENDLESSLY FRUSTRATING, AND TAKES MORE THAN I CAN MUSTER AT THIS TIME….BUT I MUST GO ON.
AT LEAST, I HAVE FOUND A BOAT SUPPORT FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS FROM HERE!
Description Dear friends,
Another day comes to an end, and I am so, so tired…
Tomorrow I move to my Quepos base, and there is still a bit of a problem with misunderstandings between the boat driver and myself regarding the fees….This is when I really, really would like an assistant, since those dealings are totally exasperating and exhausting.
I operate on a shoestring budget mostly composed of my neighbour Dawne Deeley´s donation of 5000$ that has to last all OF THESE 5 MONTHS OF SWIMS…
And I am getting pretty close to the end of this donation, so I really can not go up with the 100$ per day boat support fee.
It is a real psychological tightrope walk when I get informed of changes at the last minute, when I feel totally vulnerable, since without boat I can not get to where I am going!
I am so looking forward to the bases that are organized by locals there, like in Nosara and Playa Grande, near Tamarindo. Those 2 weeks are worry free for me, thank Goddess!
But there is a long way to go until I get there, and so much still not in place….
I am so pleased that at least one national park has chosen to get involved with my marine sanctuaries swim. MINAE so far has not offered any help at all, nor the Coast Guard, most unfortunately…
They do have boats, as well as Mar Viva, but have not offered them for support, even for one single day….
So I go on, alone, as usual, for now.
Today’s swim led past the famous Dominical surf beach, and I had the opportunity to look at many rip tides. It really is true that they extend out no more than 100 meters! The change of colour in the water makes this totally obvious. No one should die in a rip tide who understands this principle! Just enjoy the free ride on the current, and swim back a few hundred meters further down the same beach!
Just do not ever fight a current. It is one of the truly powerful forces of nature, magnificent, something I totally enjoy when I can find one to go in my direction!
I am beginning to feel the sea contains all the memory of this planet, and will happily offer it to anyone who is willing to listen and who will take the time to spend whole days submerged in her vast energy field.
While swimming and many hours afterwards, I feel like my bones are melted and become wider and wider, fluid, mobile, moved by the breath of the sea that simply breathes me in and out, removing my personality temporarily and replacing it with Her enormity.
I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be immersed so many hours a day in so much vastness…
Even with all the logistical headaches along the way and ornery boat drivers and broken promises of support and all the myriad other problems an action like mine presents on a constant basis, there is still nothing else I would rather be doing. I just have to remember the big picture, which is what I try to remind everyone I have the opportunity to speak to, to do also. Look at the consequences of every action. Will it benefit 7 generations forward?
This photo I received from my housemate Jadranka today really touched me. It is a sign of hope that even in the bleakest of times there is always spring around the corner!
Snowdrops – Victoria, BC
Today we had an earthquake near where I swam, at 5.6 Richter scale. So the earth is shaking all over the place, and Haiti actually is not all that far away from here! I still do not know how all my friends in Haiti came through the last few days with its 2 earthquakes….
I have 2 nights still at Rana Roja in Bahia Ballena, then I am off to the next base in Quepos. Bradd, the owner of Aguila de Osa in Bahia Drake, has arranged for me to stay 4 nights at a magnificent place in Manuel Antonio Park, as well as a fundraiser at a local restaurant. To have a hotel sponsor even take care of the next base is so incredibly generous, and I am really moved by so much kindness.
There have been many letdowns, but also many highlights!
Today´s swim led to Dominicalito, along many rocks and wild waters, just my kind of swimming!
Yesterday I was invited on a tour by Southern Expeditions to my beloved Island Cano, and managed to sweet-talk another guest into selling me his set of short fins and mask. This will make all the difference to my aggravating tendonitis and pulled ligaments in the feet….Also, I sweet-talked another kind soul into trading me his pair of fins for another pair I had which was too stiff, and this will also help, giving that they are so much softer. I really do prefer swimming with fins, it is a much smoother glide and much more mermaid-like! Also, it is faster and more efficient, and given that I have to cover close to 20 km a day, this really matters!
As we went back to the base tonight, there was the most incredible sunset, the red, red sun falling directly into the sea….such a beautiful end to a gorgeous swim day.
I have been approached by a marine sanctuary for help there, maybe even a demonstration, and support in their area. I feel so good about that!
I still do not know who will be my boat support in Quepos or Jaco, or, for that matter, in many other areas…But I am so pleased to have caught the interest of helpful people who see the value of what I am doing and wish to be a part of it!
Earlier today, I have finally found myself a new boat support driver, a young and energetic gentle soul who will accompany me at least to Quepos.
I still have not found a hotel there – it seems that when I am not swimming, I am spending hours and hours on my little cell phone, trying to move my swim along. This is the hardest part of the swim, accepting the many no’s along the way without taking any of them personally, and never giving up!
Yesterday I had a lovely sponsored boat support day with Bahia Ballena Tours, owner Chango let me have the use of one of his boats for the entire day!
His captain was an older gentleman who seemed to take tremendous pleasure in letting me swim the absolutely best route possible for that day, along rock outcroppings where there is always so much to see. I love to be close to rocks where the water breaks and creates whirlpools, and there is heaving suction and gushing spray. It is one of natures most intense spectacles, and it is totally different to experience it from inside the water than from inside a boat! It can be quite frightening if you miscalculate the suction zone and find yourself drawn right into the danger zone, but usually I stay just outside of that dangerous zone to avoid being thrashed into the rocks!
A few days ago, I tried to swim a tunnel, miscalculated the wave ascent and had to beat a hasty retreat as a huge wave entered and pushed me into the opposite direction than where I planned to exit! But these are the moments I treasure the most, including the fear. It is an encounter with the raw force of the ocean, with its wild rhythms and immenseness.
The hardest days are those when the ocean is tranquil and the fish do not wish to appear…
Today I was sponsored to a lovely morning tour to see dolphins, and we saw lots and lots of bottle nose and spinner dolphins, some of which accompanied our boat for quite a while. It took everything to not jump in with them, but in Costa Rica it is against the law to swim with dolphins. The only exception is my swim, since I am already in the water I am not required to get out when dolphins approach me! I wish only this happened more often!
We encountered an illegal long line operation within the Park boundaries, and I insisted the authorities were called immediately! It is amazing to think that someone would have the audacity to put the long line within meters of the Parks office….Perhaps the owner thought the Parks were corrupt enough to accept a bribe…?
I have noticed the artisanal fishermen think that long lining for kilometres and with thousands of hooks is still artisanal. Obviously, it is strictly commercial, not just for the use of a family, and therefore continues to cause harm to the fish population. Overfishing is as much a problem here as everywhere in the world…
I have just been invited to be a part of a turtle symposium and to stay at the national Park of the Baula Turtle near Tamarindo. Those invitations are the most important ones for me since they are totally in line with my objective of marine sanctuaries!
Description Dear friends,
Finally I have found a place to sleep for the next few days when I arrive in Bahia Ballena!
Thanks to my friend Kumari, another mermaid, since she made a few calls on my behalf and found a room available free of charge for me there, right next to where the boats take off from!
What a relief! This is the one aspect of the swims I can hardly stand any more. The instability of not even knowing where to sleep is taking a toll on me, and I sleep often only until 2 or 3 am, not enough…
Today I swam around Isla del Caño, a wonderful treat, even though the visibility was very poor. But there were huge swells, which I love to swim through, so I was in heaven anyways!
So my time in Drake Bay comes to an end, and my lovely host Brad will get his room back exacty when he returns from his visit to the States!I have really enjoyed the hospitality there, and the 3 workshops I gave right here in the hotel, 2 with children from the village. It is so important to me to be able to make a difference to the ordinary, poor villagers, and I seem to be able to do that on a regular basis now. This is my greatest reward
Today I had the pleasure to go on a snorkelling tour of the Island Caño, the only place in all of Costa Rica with a real coral reef. It was sublimely beautiful, and I saw many reef sharks, turtles and fish. It reminded me of the Mexican swim where I had the privilege to swim in pristine blue waters like this on many days.
It made me realize that because of the azure blue pyramid skylight in my living room – Jadra, how about sending a picture of it for the blog? – I live in a permanent aquarium the color of the ocean at about 10 meters depth! Not a bad color to live in for a mermaid when on land!
My feet are not liking fins at all, and will have to swim for several days entirely without fins.
Another 6 month plan has fallen through – they all seem to do that! – and the person in charge of the Dominical base is facing immediate foreclosure of his home and many other personal problems like divorce, so nothing is in place there and I am in the unenviable position to figure it all out in the next 48 hours, as usual – all while swimming those very 2 days needed for these complicated logistics! I spent 2 hours on my cell phone unsuccessfully, so nothing is in place yet….Do send supportive thoughts and prayers!
Lets hope some of the other bases have better coordinators. My nerves are taking a beating, and last night I resorted for the first time to a gifted sleeping pill….Without sleep, my nerves will even feel more affected, so rest is extremely important.
Right now I am waiting for the environmental group of kids who are supposed to come for a workshop 20 minutes ago – Costa Rican time, I guess…
Sleeping in a hotel owners bedroom is a first for me, and a wonderful sign of faith in me!
Description Dear friends,
I am sitting with ice on my foot that took a real beating while I fell down a flight of stairs a couple of weeks ago…..It is having definitely sprained ligaments and tendons, so swimming has actually become painful. That means swimming on painkillers….
Today I swam in huge swells and wild waters, and , looking at the white water spraying off the rocks around me made me think of avalanches in process, very close up!
It does look like cascading snow when you are in the water, within 5 or so meters, and is definitely very exciting , to say THE LEAST!
My current host is Brad, the owner of Aguila de Osa, a wonderful Inn of high class in Drake Bay. He entrusted me his personal bedroom while he is in the States since the hotel is fully booked, an incredible gesture of trust towards a person he has only known for hours.
The guests have already been treated to a slide show of my adventure both here and in Mexico, though this is the only pace so far where I could not engage the audience into a singing of the famous hymns to Yemanja, the ancient Sea Goddess of Africa , Brazil and the CARIBBEAN. Costa Ricans always love this part of my presentations and even the Supreme Court last year formed a circle holding hands and sang with me!
Perhaps this has to do with the fact that both Mexico and Costa Rica are deeply spiritual countries, and very oriented towards the feminine face of God – Mexico has the Virgin of Guadalupe, Costa Rica has the Virgin of Los Angeles as national patron saints!
And in Costa Rica, the Virgin de Carmen is actually the equivalent OF THE sea goddess, SO I ENCOUNTER LITTLE RESISTANCE HERE.
Oh, I keep hitting that capitalizing button, but do not have time to rewrite everything, sorry…
The last 2 days, a tiny pilot fish has accompanied me for hours , and her company is wonderful during my very long swim days.
Pilot fish seem to know instinctively that I am harmless, and seek my protection.
2 days ago, I observed a Morpho butterfly surf the waves, just hovering above the foam…incredible, so very beautiful, nature loving nature…
Yesterday, I was sick as a dog with the stomach flu and was totally disabled for the day. Thankfully, it has passed, and I am back TO MY USUAL SHAPE!
A big hug to all of you who are following this environmental action!
today I came to realize that I am dealing with a bit of tendonitis in both feet – not a good thing when you need both feet when you are swimming 8 hours a day! So no more fins for a while….I am enjoying my last nights at Aguila de Osa with its exceptional food and guests, who I have already given one wrkshop to, and another one tomorrow!
I think the tendonitis is a result of the severe fall from the 5 stairs on December 19, an injury I did not attend to to after the first day of ice. Probable the second injury did not help much either, the fall under the boat that managed to not kill me, but leave me severely bruised – I also did not give this injury any time to heal, and headed back out into the water the following day. My mind definitely has the ultra-multi-marathon spirit, but my body is beginning to complain quite a bit, and to show signs of overuse….
So I spend my evenings under ice on both feet, hoping to relieve the pain fom that days swim that evening. Ice has a wonderful anesthetic effect!
Today I swam acros the famous and dangerous Sierpe river mouth, in big waves and strong current – just not in my direction….Not a fish to be seen, unfotunately…! Days on which I do not see any living animal in the sea go by very slowly, and seem to last so much longer that the ones with wildlife encounters!
Once again I am in the unenviable position of waiting for word from on high regarding the FECOPT sponsorship.
Yesterday, there was a board meeting regarding continued sponsorship, and I have made countless phone calls to find out what will happen next.
It seems that I make on average 20 attempts at phone calls and have to do all the calling!
This is most frustrating.
Today I do not have boat support, and was ordered to wait for further instructions. Only, no one is calling me to tell me what is going on!
If FECOPT has chosen to not sponsor me any more, at least this would be good to know, so I can go on with my swim project and look for help elsewhere.
This way, I am full of anxiety and feel like a puppet on strings…
Not my favourite mode of being!
I would rather be in the ocean swimming, than wait interminable hours to perhaps be called, or not.
My last boat support, Luis, was absolutely marvellous, and it was such a treat to have a woman on board, his lovely common law wife Nena. They were not only punctual , but always had a smile and encouragement at every rest stop. Her mother, Maria, cooked the most wonderful lunches for us, and we ate like queens! She, Nena, was the first person on a support boat to say good bye with a gift, a really touching gesture! Especially given my love for perfume, her choice of a little perfume was so thoughtful… he was able to use a GPS with much greater facility than me, and so he made a good record.
There were hardly any jelly fish the last 3 days, so I even ventured to swim without a top, in true mermaid style, for the first time! Only a minor sunburn resulted….a small cost for such a blissful swim as the last days.
Unlike Mexico, there have not been any corals, and very little in the way of fish to be seen.
No day in Mexico passed by without seeing hundreds, if not thousands of fish of all sizes and colors.
Yesterday, I was accompanied by a horde of tiny silver fish who must have come close to me for hours to seek my protection from predators.
It was so sweet to have these little beings swim with me!
As a result of the TV report a few days ago, I have received dozens of phone calls and emails and text messages, some of which will be in the next blog.
first of all, I wish you all a New Year in which you will be able to live your greatest vision, even if it includes sacrifice.
Yesterday, I almost got to be a sacrifice to the great cause of marine sanctuaries….After waiting an incredible 5 hours, with all my gear, at the hot dock of Puerto Jimenez for the boat support, a young man named Dennis Sanabria showed up in a terrible looking boat that clearly needed some repairs.
My gut told me this was not a good situation, but I entered the boat anyway.
Miles still from the goal, the engine gave out due to lack of fuel, in high seas and currents. There was no spare gas on the boat, no water, no anchor, no radio, no phone except mine that did not work due to no reception, no food except mine, and the paddles were not adequate to the job of rowing this monster ashore. Clearly, the boat driver had never rowed before, since he insisted to row the boat backwards. The other person on board was so sick to his stomach that he could not help to row, and became dangerously dehydrated very quickly.
Thankfully, I had a bottle of liquid yoghurt as well as my lunch that I SHARED WITH THE GRATEFUL DENNIS.
In the end, I decided that the safest solution to this terribly dangerous situation was me swimming ashore, surf and all, and find help. I am a much faster swimmer than the rowing , so it seemed the wisest choice. never hAVE I SWUM FASTER, SINCE THIS TIME 3 LIVES DEPENDED ON IT.
I hope to be able to do something so Dennis can not be in charge of taking people on his boat. This arrogant attitude towards the ocean combined with absolutely no respect towards his clients nor the sea – he threw out, against my loud protest, a chunk of plastic, into the ocean! – could easily lead to deaths.
There needs to be licensing in place for people earning their living taking tourists places, be it to accompany a swimmer beside.
I am fully aware that I place my life in the hands of the boat support every time I swim offshore.
But this was the first time for me to have this happen, and from now on I will have to weigh the gas, see the promised water with my own eyes, the anchor, rope, life jackets, etc.
Clearly, unless I perform these checks carefully myself, there is no guarantee.
Dennis and others like him are basically out to make the most money in the least amount of time, with the least investment of safety gear.
I have learned a big lesson there….almost at the cost of my life!
Dennis had arranged an overnight accommodation that turned out to be a real hell hole unlike anything I haVE EVER OVERNIGHTED WITH. Not a New Years Eve to remember…
Now I will be staying with a fisherman’s family who will be my next boat support person. This is being coarranged by FECOPT.
Much love to you all, and send prayers in my direction!
as I was heading out today to copy pictures into the website with the 2 swimmers, I managed to fall down a flight of stairs and do this with my right foot sliding all the way under the stairs, sort of in the position of Chinese girls who have their feet bound and thus have the front of the foot bent towards the back. It was incredibly painful and I have spent the day under ice, trying to move as little as possible.
Tomorrow morning at 7 am I fly to San Jose for media interviews and a meeting with the sponsor of the Golfo Dulce weeklong swim with the 2 girls.
I believe that continuing the sponsorship for the rest of the swim could also bring media attention to the organisation that has put a patrol boat into the Golfo Dulce, FECOP. Of course, I am hoping for further sponsoring of the rest of the swim.
I can only hope that this fall will not spell the end of the long swim, but I know myself. I can be incredibly tough on myself and will work with the pain. I hope that nothing is broken. A nurse who happened on me in the hotel lobby where I am accommodated free of charge, the beautiful and peaceful Choza de Manglar, www.manglares.net felt that it was very unlikely to be a fracture, after examining me. Lets hope that this holds true….
In a worst case scenario, I will be in the capital after all, and be able to see a doctor or get an x-ray, if things tonight get a lot worse.
I need all your prayers to heal this as soon as possible….
Yesterday, I was invited to join a kayak tour with www.aventurastropicales.com and got to know a lot about one of the local environmental organizations that is always struggling for funds and mostly goes without recognition. I hope my 2 swimmer girls will join them. After all, an initiation is only the beginning, and now begins the real work of helping the Golfo Dulce recover !
Enjoy reading their entries written in Spanish. They do not speak any English at all! I love them both with all my heart, and these bonds will be lifelong!
Hola mi nombre es Michelle, soy una de las nadadoras que realizo la travesía al Golfo!
Para mi esta ha sido una gran experiencia inolvidable, hubo dolor, alegrías, pero hemos aprendido muchas cosas juntas.
Nadando comprendí el dolor del mar, sentí su dolor, su tristeza y su sufrimiento.
Cuando nadaba sentí una gran paz, sentí mi alma, sentí que el mar y yo éramos uno solo, entonces empecé a tomar conciencia, de que debemos de luchar para proteger a nuestra madre mar.
Además porque el 99% de vida se encuentra en el mar.
Doña Rente nos ha enseñado mucho de cómo conservar y proteger al mar.
Haciendo público, le doy gracias a mi mamá por habernos acompañado y apoyado en esta travesía.
También a Don Abraham por habernos alojado en su casa, fue una persona muy hospitalaria.
Cuando nadábamos hubieron muchos hilos de oro, muchas aguas malas, esto debido a la contaminación del mar, además vimos grandes arrecifes pero con coral muerto, cubierto de sedimento y suciedad, en estos había pocos peses.
Algo lindo de mencionar fue que en algunos días de la travesía nadamos con delfines, fue increíble porque estuvimos muy cerca de ellos.
Al último día que cruzamos el Golfo, fue increíble que no hayamos visto ningún pez, esto debido a la avaricia del hombre.
Y espero que con esto todos tomemos conciencia y conservemos el medio ambiente tanto terrestre como marino.
Porque también es nuestro medio ambiente, de todos, de cada uno de nosotros, así que hágamos algo porque el pide nuestra ayuda.
Y finalizando me comprometí con el mar a no comer camarones hasta que termine el arrastre camaronero.
Para mí haber tenido la oportunidad de darle la vuelta al golfo y crúzarlo, solo muy pocas personas se arriesgarían a hacerlo! Es algo muy cansado sin duda, pero con el apoyo del capitán Ronald, que fue un hombre que aun así con cosas importantes que hacer, estuvo siempre con nosotros. Doña Berta, que ella con su amor, fue una mamá, porque siempre estuvo pendiente de mi.
Es una señora fuerte y valiente, y mi compañera Michelle una muchacha con muchas ganas de cumplir sus sueños y muy fuerte! La señora Renate, una mujer fuerte que a pesar de su discapacidad lucha para conservar esto que tenemos o a lo que llamamos Golfo, ella es una persona muy especial, pasar por todo esto en compañía de ella y las demás es hermoso…
Ella cambio mi vida el día en que apareció!
También a don Abraham, una persona increíble, especial, respetuosa, que le agradezco por habernos permitido pasar las noches en su casa Punta Encanto, le agradezco por cocinarnos.
Todo esto me ayudo a saber toda la problemática que hay en los mares. Esta travesía fue para lograr crear santuarios marinos para que en mas o menos 12 años podamos volver en el golfo todas las bellezas que por culpa de los humanos y su avaricia ya no se admiran …
Doña Renate LA SIRENA lucha contra los ALETEROS, y a los que practican el ARRASTRE DE CAMARONES.
Esto Hace que se logre el desequilibrio en los mares por que cuando exterminamos una especies, matamos a muchas más porque unos animales dependen de otros.
Es una barbaridad que en este mundo las personas no tengan conciencia de que en tal vez 40 años nuestros hijos o nietos no conozcan lo que es un tiburón o un delfín!
Tenemos que tomar conciencia de todo esto!
Me gustaría que muchas personas hicieran estos ritos de pasajes marítimos y descubrieran lo hermoso e increíble que es todo esto.
Si me preguntaran si lo volvería a hacer no dudaría en volver a realizarlo.
ESTO ES UNA MARAVILLA ECHA REALIDAD QUE NUNCA 2 JOVENES COSTARRISENCE DE LA EDAD DE 15 Y 16 AÑOS hAN ECHO!
FELIZ NAVIDAD Y PROSPERO AÑO NUEVO, QUE DIOS LOS CUIDE Y LOS PROTEJA
Mi correo es Vassanquin@hotmail.com Puerto Jiménez, Costa Rica
first of all, merry Christmas! Happy Winter Solstice!
Yesterday was one of the most astonishing days of my life – it was the actual conclusion of the week long marine rite of passage and ended with a first ever crossing of the 21 km Golfo Dulce, from Punta Encanto to the main dock in Puerto Jimenez by youth, 2 girls from the village! And, of course, myself in the lead, now crossing the Golfo for the third time!
What happened is truly miraculous, since these 2 girls, Michell and Vasti, had never spent more than a few minutes swimming before we met!
I myself am not really sure how this was possible, only that the Golfo Dulce seems to act like a cradle for those who put their life energy into swimming it…
That this vision of mine could come true strikes me as truly miraculous.
Last Wednesday, when Marcos Carazo told me in front of the parents of the kids originally selected for the marine rite of passage, that he had autocratically cancelled the entire event, I could not have dreamt that today I stand in awe at the end of this first initiation of 2 young girls who have graduated and will begin their lives as daughters of Yemaya!
Today we will continue to train, as they lack any decent swimming skills, – and that makes the crossing of the Golfo that much more astonishing, and against all odds!
Tonight, there will be a reception dinner in the home of one of the mothers.
This 72 year old woman, Berta, with a grade one education and an incredibly difficult and impoverished life behind her, put her trust in me and told me in front of all the assembled parents that she would give me her daughter in trust to be a part of this initiation, and she herself would accompany me!
Because of her faith in me, another girl decided on the spot to come along also, and she had to fight to make this happen – her father did not want her to go due to lack of insurance.
I, myself, have no insurance whatsoever, just my faith in Yemaya.
Thankfully, her dad was able to re insure her and so let her come.
last night, I was supposed to stay for the next week at a posh hotel, but the organizer (for this section of the swim) (once again…just with a different name…) let me down – this is getting to be old news, no? – and after a week of intensive volunteer work for his village found myself in the position of now knowing once again where to put my head for the night….
On Christmas eve, with 2 wet girls in tow in one of the mother’s cars, we had to scour the town for a bed for the night for me…..we were all so tired, wet and hungry, and so incredibly disappointed that not even the reception dinner had been organized, in spite of a promise for that, also.
Thankfully, the owners of Choza del Manglar Jaqueline and Andrew Patrick Gray, agreed to sponsor me for at least one night, and so I managed to fall into bed exhausted at 10 pm….
Where I will stay tonight is not clear to me yet, but I hope right here where I can also use a computer to write emails, a most necessary activity to be able to continue the swim!
I am right now waiting for the girls to arrive for their first real technique session in the ocean, and must close this.
I hope that by this afternoon my situation will have been resolved, and my fury at the absolute failure of this aspect of the project and the broken promises involved, abated!
The girls deserved that beautiful and formal reception dinner that never happened last night as much as I deserved to sleep in peace, knowing that everything is taken care of.
Let’s hope that this organizer will contact me today and set things straight…
Our accommodation during the rite of passage was the magical El Encanto home of Abraham Concepcion, who graciously cooked for us every night and treated us all like family.
It was a tranquil place without access to telephone or computer or Internet, thus perfect for a rite of passage.
This also meant that you have not heard form me in a week!
May you feel the special magic of Christmas and may your hearts be open to all the love that lies in every birth and rebirth, of the Christ Child, Sun Child and every child within and in nature.
Queridos amigos, hoy sucedio un milagro,debido a una comunicacion en el diario La Extra de Costa Rica de una gran circulacion.
El articulo fue muy bien escrito en el cual se capturo las metas de mi travesia.
Hoy al medio dia recibi una llamada despues de haberce publicado este articulo por parte de las senoras Melisa de Imagen y Comunicacion, y la senora Monica Gutirrez de FECOPT .
Ellas me ofrecieron apoyo para lograr mi travesia en el golfo dulce y desean ademas cordinar la travesia de punta Burica hasta Bahia Salinas.
Este milagro es el que yo espere hace tres anos.
Anteayer, el anterior organizador ( Marcos Carazo) lamentablemente anuncio a los jovenes de Puerto Jimenez que todo esta se cancelo – una decision tomada por el mismo sin consultar a ninguna persona involucrada en este proyecto!
Anteayer entonces fue una de las noches mas tristes de mi vida, haber escuchado esto casi el fin de mi sueno.
Pero luchando constantemente estos dos ultimos dias los cuales con el apoyo de las madres que querian ver a sus hijas logrando esta travesia logramos ya hacerla una realidad.
Otro milagro es que el hombre que esta escribiendo esto para mi es Donald Mc Guinness quien fue la primera persona la cual comparti la idea de cruzar nadando el Golfo Dulce en junio 04, 2007 .
La vida es increible!
Al igual que los salmones regresan a sus origenes a crear una vida, al igual que yo tambien regreso al Golfo Dulce que es la cuna de mi nueva vida como una Sirena.
Dear friends and family,
after a totally devastating evening yesterday, where I realized that for the second time in a row, I had been deceived, mislead, used for my media appeal while nothing had been set in motion, the impossible happened:
Due to my incredible doggedness and resilience and perseverance and stubborn spirit and extreme resourcefulness, as it now stands, and entirely on my own efforts, 2 young girls will accompany me for the first week of the 3 month swim! What my now ex-organizer could not accomplish in 6 months and countless phone calls from me and a book full of emails, I managed to pull off in a mere matter of hours and a very, very long day.
The mothers of the girls have decided that this was worth investing in, and even though before apparently not a dime could be found for any of the necessary equipment of the participants, these girls already went shopping and miraculously were able to buy everything necessary.The grandmother of one of the girls who is actually her care giver, will come along to help us out. She is 72 years old, and I am so pleased to have an elder along for this first ever Rediscovery swim camp in Costa Rica! And yes, we will be camping, at a very beautiful location, half way around the golfo .
Elders are an essential part of any Rediscovery camp, so this is indeed wonderful news!
She will cook for us and maybe even swim a bit with us!
On Saturday morning at 6 am, I expect the entire village at the dock from where we will take off swimming, hopefully, to great applause and good wishes!
We will be back on Christmas eve, and will swim every day before, the girls in relay and as much as they can endure, me, my usual 8 hours.
We will be involved also in many other activities beside swimming, and I have my Rediscovery book along in case I am short on ideas!
My hope is that one of the girls dream comes true of becoming a marine biologist, and that both will become strong local activists, and fight to keep the Golfo Dulce forever tuna farm free!
As of tomorrow morning, we will have Radio Columbia accompany us, and at 6 a.m. I will receive the first interview by phone.
However, so far Marcos Carazo, the ex-organizer who has failed the kids and me totally in this endeavour, still has not handed over the phone to me, for which I had sent him a 215$ donation from last year that had remained in Costa Rica. So this is really my phone line, and in true women’s solidarity fashion, one of the local women is withholding the outstanding trainer salary from Marcos until I call her from my own phone, so she knows that he has honored at least that part of the contract!
The granny, when she heard that Marcos threw everything to the winds, even told me that I could be her houseguest as long as I needed, that at least she would always stand by her word! What a´powerful elder!
So this could still galvanize the whole community out of apathy, seeing that 2 young girls, one 15, one 16 years old, can be part of an extraordinary event and really accomplish something that no other young person here, or anywhere else for that matter, has done so far!
We will see what tomorrow brings!
Lets hope the boat driver is good to his word!
after a flurry of TV interviews seen all over Costa Rica all day today and yesterday, on every imaginable channel, I arrive in Puerto Jimenez with the supposed organizer Marcos Carazo, and it turns out that I have been twice deceived!!!
Once again, I have placed my trust in someone who I thought was capable of putting together a youth marine rite of passage in organizational terms, – I would do ALL THE TEACHING – and it turns out that like Tim Means, Marcos also got nothing together. He enjoyed the media attention immensely and thus took advantage of my media appeal, but in real terms I am once again at the drawing board, with the parents of the 7 youths. They are as disappointed as me to have him walk out on us, with not even a boat organized to accompany us tomorrow. Due to this I had to hold the swim off for a day, while we scramble madly to find a boat. Marcos will conveniently leave us all tomorrow. I am profoundly disappointed as I had considered him a personal friend, so the hurt is doubly deep.
Without consulting with me or even informing me, he told the parents that he was cancelling the event, unilaterally. The kids had trained for the event and placed all their hopes into it. Ah well. One friend less in life, I suppose….but it hurts so much every time it happens.
The grandmother of a swimmer offered to put me up in her humble home. The parents are lovely, and so courageous.
I think they really feel the injustice done to their kids, by yet another irresponsible adult who talks a lot, but delivers little.
It is very late, I am in a state of shock, once again, and ask for all your prayers. When will this stop being so hard?
Everyone wants the media attention, and then they vanish really quick!
And, yes, there were those who would like to exploit me for their political purposes also….
Good night to you all, I hope I can sleep at all…..
Despues de haber estado escribiendo por alrededor 1 hora en mi blog,una promocion me borra toda mi informacion y de nuevo estoy aqui escribiendo.Gracias a Griselda, esta vez no tengo que escribir yo misma; ella me lo esta escribiendo.Yo tuve la gran suerte de conocer a la mama de ella, aqui en la comunidad de La Playa, del municipio de Los Cabos,B.C.S., Pachita Miranda.
Cuando llegue al hotel La Playita,( el dueno George Armstrong es quien me esta regalando 6 noches en este hotel), me recibio Jesus Cesena quien es mi patrocinador principal para la seccion de la travesia que cubre desde Los Frailes hasta Cabo San Lucas, esto realmente es un milagro.Yo ya habia abandonado la idea de poder continuar la travesia mas larga de Cabo Pulmo por falta de apoyo.
Despues de llamar Thomas Cantor una vez, un conocido de el Sr. Pepe Murrieta de Los Barriles realmente no esperaba una respuesta, pero recibi una llamada del Grupo Tortuguero quien me pasaron un mensaje de Thomas Cantor que se habia encontrado un patrocinador con el nombre de Jesus Cesena de FONMAR.
Hoy vi a FONMAR en accion!
La lancha de apoyo que me cuida es la lancha de vigilancia de FONMAR.
Yo note que hubo algunas personas buceando con llantas raras.Me acerque pensando que necesitaban ayuda, pero ellos estaban atrapando langostas. Aqui en esta region es absolutamente prohibido sacar langostas cuando esta vedada o no cuentan con el permiso requerido.
Los empleados de FONMAR que me estan cuidando hicieron las llamadas necesarias para que llegara la autoridad de policia maritima para recibicion de los buzos piratas.
La policia nos esperaba en la playa y los esposaron para llevar a la carcel.
Esta fue mi primera experiencia de ver una accion de la ley en la vida maritima y mi corazon de activista fue satisfecho especialmente por que tuve mucho que ver con esto.
Si no hubiese nadado en ese momento no hubieramos visto a estas personas.
Por algo pasan las cosas!
Ayer en la noche tuve una invitacion a una posada navidena de parte de Pachita , mi nueva amiga y sub-delegada de esta comunidad de la playa.
Ella me presento al Presidente municipal de Los Cabos, Lic.Rene Nunez Cosio con el apoyo de Pachita.
Parece que el domingo cuando llegue a San Lucas me recibiran con una bonita recepcion, con prensa y el presidente municipal, y dependencias del gobierno.La playa a la cual llegare se llama Empacadora en Cabo San Lucas.
Fue casi irresistible escuchar la magnifica musica y ver tanta gente unida pero como me levanto a las 5 de la manana no me puede quedar muy tarde, y me fui antes de que en realidad la fiesta empezara. Esto toma mucha disciplina como bailar es una de mis grandes pasiciones.
Me encanta la musica mexicana y es casi imposible no bailar al mismo tiempo que se escucha esta musica tan alegre.
Hoy con un gran viento pude nadar mas de 30km y ahora es claro que podre cumplir mi meta en los dos dias que todavia tengo.
En este momento me estoy muriendo de hambre y ya me voy a cenar con Pachita y Griselda.
Description Dear friends,
today I spoke once again – for the 7. time – on TV, tomorrow it will be on nationwide TV, including swimming . I will get into the water for that, thank Goddess…
Apparently there might be some support for the last section from Cabo Pulmo to San Jose del Cabo, after all, I will find out tonight.
In the meantime, I have made good use of my time stuck on land here, and have so far given 15 classes to school children so far, from 5 schools in various locations, rurally as well as in the city.
The children have made all the frustrations worth my while. They are open ,receptive, willing to learn, and make changes, including educating their parents about the damage many fishing methods cause. Many are children of fishermen, so the impact may be rather large, I hope!
Yesterday, a family I met while eating out alone took me around La Paz including to one of the beaches, so I could have a swim – such sweethearts! They treated me out to a lunch at a Chinese restaurant named China City, where they serve – oh my!! – shark fin soup….I had a long talk with the owner, and put out on TV today that people should speak up about this, and boycott this restaurant until that item is off the menu. Just like Azuza restaurant in Victoria! Though the owner there, in Victoria, said that it was fake shark fin….I still told him that I would not patronize his restaurant until this item had been removed from the menu.These gestures are powerful , and work. Each one can make a difference. I got sick to my stomach when I saw this soup yesterday – all I could think is that these are my friends precious limbs in there in that soup pot…
Swimming with the bull sharks was so beautiful….They were very placid when I saw them, snoozing, it seemed, definitely not hunting. So incredibly beautiful, and so terribly hunted, to the tune of 100 Million per year, for their fins alone…
Just now I received a communication of the father of Lalo, the owner of Baja Paradise, that charged me $ 400 for a mere 2 days of swimming since they demanded pay for the bad weather day, as well as for the day the motor failed.
I am waiting for a formal apology for the extremely abusive 2 text messages – something that simply could never have happened in the Pacifist country of Costa Rica where conflict is avoided at all cost.
Even with all the difficulties the last 2 big swims there faced, the people were always pleasant and friendly.
It really shows when a country has not known a military presence or mindset since 1948 – it influences the national psyche to a very large degree.
I have noticed a very nationalistic feel here, even in the schools where the children every Monday have to stand at attention and march the flag to the national anthem, like little soldiers. Such a different attitude to one’s country…
I will go back to the same school, where I already spent 3 days, 2 more times, tomorrow for a movement session, and on Friday for a field trip to the sea.
I am so very pleased to have met a teacher who is extremely knowledgeable regarding the environment and has put me into all his classes, sharing very much intellectually and emotionally what I teach. So good to feel that there is some support for the marine world out there, especially a teacher! Our teachers work for such ridiculous salaries, especially here, and yet our children’s future lies in their hands! So they need all the support we can muster…
Description Dear friends,
it has already been a very long day, and a frustrating one. Many phone calls later, I have not found a way to continue the swim from Cabo Pulmo onwards. Part of me is so exhausted that I am beginning to consider to let it go and try to just teach a few more courses in La Paz, before heading off to the demanding project in Costa Rica.
After spending several hours cleaning the guest cottage Mary Shroyer generously offered to me for the remaining days here, I made it into a real home, and feel good there. Her lovely dog, boney, is good company, and watched me wash the floors and dust everything since the cottage had not been used for quite some time.
I actually cooked the first meal since my departure this morning, contributing to the sense of being at home! Thank you, Mary, for allowing me onto your land!
Once again, I am using the computer at Grupo Tortuguero; my new home is fairly close, a 15 minute walk.
Today I found out that my colleague and good friend Wim Lieeuw from Saanichton has suddenly died yesterday.
He was my age, and in good health. We shared many CASARA search and rescue flights over the last 8 years, and he and I shared a near death flight leaving Tofino.
We both were so aware how incredibly precious life actually is….
And today I am even more painfully aware of that, feeling deeply his loss.
Every day counts.
I feel so fortunate that I could swim in the presence of humpback whales, sharks, turtles, a whale shark, and countless other magical creatures in my sea journeys…
I hope life will still grant me many more long migratory swims to help our Mother Sea.
While we all can, let us share love and friendship, including with our brothers and sisters of the sea , the land, the air and everywhere!
Description Dear friends,
Once again, an English entry!
I am typing in the office of Grupo Tortuguero, they are once again generously letting me use their office computer.
Yesterday was the supposed return day and first night on the sailboat with Bob Walker on his sailboat Cactus, a sponsorship that included 11 days of sailboat support for the route from Loreto area to La Paz.
The ride I was promised from La Ribera ended up leaving almost 5 hours after the original time assumed, because of other obligations the NGO Niparaja staff had before leaving for La Paz. In other words, I had no control over the departure time whatsoever.
I sent various emails to Bob, which he acknowledged, indicating that I would be very late, and that there would be a TV interview almost on arrival on his boat on national Mexican TV.
So I ended up arriving after 7 pm, with all my belongings that obviously would not fit on the boat since the only place I would apparently have to place my gear would be my bunk itself. No shelf space was offered.
Bob received me in a somewhat angry, tense and unpleasant mood, which had me worried right away since this was the beginning of a 11 day sail and swim, and we would be entirely by ourselves the whole time, and this did not seem a good start.
As I was trying to place my first item on board, I received a call from the head of CONANP, a very important conservation organization that is interested in organizing a big swim next year, with 10 months lead time. Nancy was already at the dock, and so I went to meet her and see what I could do to help set next year’s project in motion.
Soon after , the TV anchor arrived, and a TV interview took place in my beloved Dock Cafe, which I managed to feature prominently in the interview as one of my main sponsors.
A short note by Bob was handed to me by the manager of the restaurant, during this interview, that the trip was off, and that all my belongings were outside in the street. Obviously, he did not like the wait!
However, to cancel so willy-nilly the entire trip over something I had no control over, a late arrival, was a tremendous shock to me.
I really had believed that Bob was a man of his word, and once again had to find out the hard way that I had made an error in judgement of character,and had placed my faith in someone who had no commitment to his word or to this marine sanctuaries conservation project.
Obviously, I am disappointed down to my bones!
I could have stayed in the La Ribera area and continued the swim from there, if Bob had had the decency to let me know that he actually no longer was interested in the sponsorship he himself had offered me over one month ago!
So once again, I am in La Paz, trying to rescue the last 11 days and finding support for the Cabo Pulmo to Cabo San Lucas section of the swim.
Deep down, I am exhausted, from so much betrayal, disappointment and sudden changes.
Like Tim Means, Bob seems to place no meaning on something carefully planned – for over a month, with Bob, over 5 months with Tim! -
It seems to all have meant nothing at all to him, and obviously there was no honor attached on following through on his promise!
However, I have found true friends in the National Parks staff in La Ribera, and had the opportunity to spend 2 hours talking with Avryl who gave me an excellent education in why shrimp farms are as bad as the drag nets. This is what she researched for her Masters thesis!
My days in La Riberas, supported by the Parks folks, made me realize that I am on the right track.
Today a little girl stopped me in the street, saying “Maestra! Profesora! Mira mi bracelete!”
She is one of the many kids I taught in the last weeks since my arrival in the La Paz and La Ribera schools, and clearly this made an enormous impact. She had already gone to do a beach clean up!
It really moved me to be able to touch the lives of so many children, al of whom were so receptive to my message, and were all so affectionate with me.
I actually can’t wait to get to Costa Rica….
If this were my first big swim, I would give up before I had really, really started, it has been so hard here.
The 301 km swum so far have cost me everything in resourcefulness, dogged perseverance, sheer tenacity, nerves of steel and an iron will, on top of 1700$ spent in boat support, 300$ of these for days I did not even get to swim, but had to pay for anyway, since they were bad weather and busted motor days…
I realize, by contrast, that Costa Rica has been so good to me, so supportive, and here it has been such a struggle so far….except for the few days with CONANP.
The office is about to close, so I send all of you a big hug.
Please send emails. It gets lonely out here!
Queridos amigos y amigas, ya es muy noche y tengo mucha hambre, me esta apoyando Mariana (voluntaria de CONANP) al escribir esta carta, todos mis días son muy largos y no tengo suficiente tiempo para descansar, comer y dormir.
En realidad mis días llevan 18 horas de trabajo diario.
La parte mas relajante realmente es cuando nado, hoy tuve la extraordinaria oportunidad de tener por segundo día una lancha patrocinada, gracias a la dirección del Parque Nacional Cabo Pulmo, hoy solamente nade 4 horas por el mal tiempo, que a mi me encanto muchisimo, aunque a mi el mal tiempo me gusta pero no a los lancheros por temor a que se maltrate la lancha.
Hoy tuve oportunidad de ver la belleza del Parque Nacional Cabo Pulmo, mirando los corales y sus grandes poblaciones de peces, algunos de gran tamaño, ¡parece que no mueren de hambre!.
Que rico,¡ otra vez tener un lugar para dormir yo sola estas cuatro noches!, durmir en una sala de una casa partícular fué dificil ya que estaba extremadamente cansada y no pude socializar mucho y ser una buena huesped, se nota que ya tengo mis 54 años y tengo mis necesidades personales para mantenerme en paz y equilibrio.
En verdad mi noche favorita hasta ahora, fué la segunda noche de mi traveía hacia el sur, en mi casa de campaña, aislada, sola, tener tan cerca los elementos, el mar las estrellas, la arena y la tierra es muy reconfortante y me alimentó el alma, yo esperaba mas noches asi, pero lamentablemente esto no se pudo realizar.
Ayer recibi algunos mensajes de texto a mi telefono, muy feos, por parte de Lalo el dueño de Baja Paradise, que fué la compañia a quién contrate, para el apoyo de la lancha desde La Paz, yo pague 400 dls por dos días y tres horas, casi el doble a mi presupuesto regular de 100 dls por día, pagando el día en que se descompuso el motor y un día de mal tiempo, yo pense que fuí generosa con la compañia ademas que el lanchero fué poco profesional ya que me perdí dos veces y me hablaba de manera irrespetuosa.
Al parecer esta es la forma de trabajar de la compañia porque el dueño también me mando mensajes insultantes, lo cual me quitó el sueño en la noche, nunca espere ese trato por parte de Lalo, con el cual me sentí muy bién con el, pero no entiendo su cambio, esta situación nunca hubiera ocurrido en Costa Rica, en donde la gente es muy cuidadosa de no tener problemas, lo cual me tomo totalmente por sorpresa.
Por otro lado, la otra sorpresa fué muy bonita, al conocer gente que trabajan para el gobierno, tan entusiasmados y dispuestos a apoyar a una nadadora que no tenía apoyo.
Ya estamos en pláticas para realizar una travesía el proximo año, con mas tiempo de planificación, que incluya incluya otras áreas naturales protegidas.
Lamentablemente el taller que había planeado realizar en Cabo Pulmo, no se pudo realizar, pero espero dar algunas clases mañana a los estudiantes de La Ribera.
Mañana regreso a La Paz, donde seré acompañada por un velero antes de mi salida a Costa Rica el 14 de diciembre.
Buenas noches a todos.
Description Dear friends,
It has been a couple of days since I had access to a computer, so you had to wait a bit!
The last 4 days I went with Noe, my boat support, starting from Los Barriles, moving closer and closer to Cabo Pulmo, the goal of this stretch of the coast.
Today, I had the extraordinary chance to swim with 2 humpback whales, for hours, following their path.
It was a mother and babe, who played over and under her and me, spiralling, spy hopping, turning somersaults and all sorts of other acrobatics, a bit like Silvan, my very acrobatic son who has mastered most of the acrobatic moves within Capoeira!
I consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to swim with these gentle giants – the mother was about 15 meters long! – and follow them for most of the day, thanks to the efforts of my trusty boat support, who was as excited as me, since he had never seen a whale up close before. To look in the eye of this whale mother was something I will never forget. She was at times so close that I could almost touch her tail fluke…
In all the hundreds of hours that I have swum expeditions, this was surely the crown of them all! And a wonderful reward for so many days of frustrations, complications, disappointments and betrayals! Everything pales when you are in the presence of the beings for who you fight, and who let you know that it is all so very worthwhile….
The grace of the whales is stunning, their ability to dance through the water so absolutely moving….
On the American Thanksgiving eve, Pepe Murietta, my current accommodation sponsor and organizer of the section towards Cabo Pulmo, a Marine Park he helped to set in motion and that took 10 years to establish, invited me to a lovely dinner with a Victoria family!
Laurie Pederson, Pepes main support in Canada for his turtle projects, reached right into my heart with her charm and beauty, and for the first time on this expedition, I felt truly honoured for the work I am doing on behalf of the oceans.
She put me at the head of the table, and it was stirring to finally feel that there is an acknowledgement for the extreme effort this journey has taken and is still taking!
Laurie has the gift of appreciation, humility and gratitude, and just being in her presence was such a gift.
Yesterday, she invited me to accompany her and Pepe to thermal springs where I relaxed my sore bones in the evening light, what a treat!
I look forward to meeting Laurie again as soon as I return to Victoria, and we will go to Silvan’s big Capoeira show together! Perhaps Laurie and I can work on future projects together? I feel so honoured to have met her, a truly kindred soul!
Right now I am waiting for Pepe to pick me up, and then find out, hopefully, where I spend the next night! So many things still in the open….
I realize I am approaching a state of extreme fatigue, and need to get more sleep, as well as some privacy for writing and relaxing. Not having a room to myself for the last 2 nights has been challenging, I sleep poorly at the best of times, and in a living room this is even more difficult. I am almost hallucinating from fatigue at this very moment, and better close to get some rest….hopefully!
And so I have to learn to swim inside my dreams
in case the sea should come
and visit me in my sleep.
And if that happens all will be well,
and when tomorrow stirs
on the wet stones, the sand
and the great resounding sway of sea
will know who I am and why I return,
will accept me into their school.
And I can be content again
in the solitude of the sand,
graduated by the wind
and respected by the sea world.
Dear friends, especially Maria Teresa, who sent this poem of Pablo Neruda to me to cheer me up, it has been a splendid day in the water, swimming the backside of Isla Cerralvo, a huge rock island of magnificent proportions and shapes and colors.
The last 4 days, all my support boat drivers have been courteous and professional, totally attentive to my needs during my daily marathon swims. 20 km a day is considered a full marathon in the swim world!
This puts in stark contrast the behaviour of the boat driver Alberto who accompanied me from la Paz to Las Cruces, and risked my life more than once by neglecting to pay attention to my whereabouts, and then blamed me for losing sight of me….it is such a relief to work with kind people who do not deem it below their dignity to humbly observe a lone swimmer in the ocean, especially in turbulent waters, like today!
It makes a big difference when the boat man hands me the yogurt into the ocean with a smile, or with a sour face, a huge difference actually….IT changes the whole energy of the swim!
Today I swam in the glorious fertility of our Mother Sea, in miles and miles of milt, or fish eggs and sperm all mixed up! A lot of fish must have HAD A REALLY GOOD TIME!
In spite of all our interference, nature is still so exuberant, if only we will give it the space and time to do so!
Thus my swims main objective is to promote marine sanctuaries – just leave the sea alone in vast spaces, and there is still a chance of recovery. At least 30% worldwide!
Around all Mexican islands there is safe space, so there is lots of life still to be seen there…
Small gestures that mean so much – every one of your personal letters, especially Maria Teresa, the freediver whose home I have stayed in la Paz whenever I could not swim, and whose warm and wise words of support have meant so much to me.
The perfect morning cup of coffee that Joe at Bajajoe, my current accomodations sponsor in Ventanas, makes for me every morning at 5:30 am so I can get to the swim all fired up – well, I actually never drink coffee, but this is a wonderful exception, and I have treasured every drop, so full of caring! – , the flashlight that John from Nutristart in Victoria gave me that I use every night, his donated vitamins and smoothies that keep me strong, Joe’s dog’s welcome every morning here, the stars at night that twinkle with such fervour….thank you to all and everyone, including every little fish and moray eel and sea star that keeps me company while I swim….
Well, for today I must close, everyone is heading out to dinner here, and the shop will thus be closed in moments! Time to have a shower and get all that salt off me and the gear! And to find tomorrow’s boat support!
Description Dear friends,
Karen, my assistant for 4 days and writer of the Spanish blogs, has gone back home, to work at Grupo Tortuguero, unfortunately for me!
It was wonderful having a woman come with me for a weekend and help me plan for a few days, a very rare treat indeed!
She came away with admiration for the discipline it takes to swim 8 hours no matter what, including injuries caused by the terribly venomous jellyfish Portuguese Man-of-War, one of the very worst there is. This happened to me 2 days in a row, and yesterday it included getting the venom in my mouth, since one of the tentacles wrapped around my mask and snorkel and did not get washed out enough….Ouch, ouch, ouch…So I had to take an antihistamine right away, since a swollen tongue can mean a closed throat!
Thankfully, today I was not stung …
Today’s swim was rather dreamlike, it felt like I was flying in slow motion above such beautiful formations of rocks, caves, corals – many even still intact! – and countless colourful fish! I felt like I was swimming in a rather large aquarium, since all the fish were of the kind people have in their aquariums!
Since I am fighting a flu bug, for the first time I actually felt so tired that I could not wait for the 8 hours to be up, even though the swim was so lyrical and filled with the ineffable poetry of the sea.
The currents were not with me today, so I did not advance my customary 20 km a day, but I still got to 185 km in all by the end of today.
Currents can change so quickly, and they do not always neatly coincide with the tide schedule!
2 turtles graced me with their company – too bad Karen did not get to see them, since her Masters thesis and work is with turtle nesting sites and conservation.
I so hope she will join me again next weekend!
I did not realize how lonely I had felt until I had her lovely company all weekend, and I miss her already! She did not dare to jump into the ocean at all, given that she witnessed my extreme pain twice in a row, after being stung by the jellies, and did not want to risk the same!
This happened even though I swim completely covered with clothes, only my face and hands are free! Now I even swim with gloves!
Ah, the ocean has its price….
It is time to find some dinner, and relax….Just now, I got a message that I DO NOT HAVE A BOAT FOR TOMORROW….This happens all too often, and is incredibly frustrating! now I can not relax, but have to see if I can come up with another solution….
A big hug to all of you, and I will write again tomorrow!
Description Queridas amigas!
Hoy fue un largo dia de nado, casi toda la Bahia de la Ventana, yo creo 18km.
Nunca habia visto tantas aguasmalas del tipo de Fregata portuguesa, estuve rodeada de ellas por mas de una hora. Aun con traje completo me pico una en la cara y en la lengua. Recibi muchos besos de fuego, se siente como latigos en la cara. Aun con pastllas para el dolor y antiestaminicos me dolio todo el dia. Por los antiestaminicos casi me dormi nadando por el cansancio que causa esta medicina.
Mundialmente hay un crecimiento de aguasmalas.
A ellos aparentemente les gusta la contaminacion y el calentamiento del agua y a la vez la disminucion de las tortugas para comerselas, especialmente la laud. Con la falta de tortugas en general vamos a ver mas medusas por la falta de depredadores naturales. Es una de las causas por que me gustan tanto las tortugas.
Hoy y ayer pude ver varias morenas, serpientes y pequenos peces. Tambien se ve el blanqueamiento de los corales, incluso lugares donde estan aparentemente sanos.
Y lamentablemente debemos cortar esta carta porque ya estamos muriendo de hambre!!! Hasta manana.
Description Queridos amigos, estoy escribiendo desde Baja Joe’s (La Ventana) donde Karen (Grupo Tortuguero de las Californias) y yo llegamos a las 5:45am, despues de casi no dormir con miedo por no despertar a tiempo. A las 6:00am salimos para encontrar el lugar donde termine de nadar la ultima vez enfrente de Las Cruces. Bajar de nuevo al agua es como estar en el paraiso. Cada vez que yo empiezo un dia de nado, me siento como en casa, en verdad el mar es mas mi casa por los dolores constantes que tengo por la trombosis que me afecto permanentemente desde el 2005. Ahora tengo mucho dolor por el piquete de una aguamala al final del dia. Ahora en todo el mundo hay nuchas mas aguasmalas por la contaminacion quimica, el calentamiento global, el cambio de acidez quimica, parece que a las aguas malas les gusto mucho esto. Mi mano esta hinchandose por la picadura y parece que voy a tener que tomar antistaminicos toda la noche. Apesar de todo esto, fue un dia maravilloso y me senti totalmente cuidada por el nuevo lanchero, Yoyo. Karen esta regalandome su tiempo y escribiendo esto. Ya estan a punto de cerrar la oficina donde esta la computadora, ma;ana si Dios quiere slimos a las 6 am y espero llegar hasta Ensenada de Muertos. Buenas noches a todos.
Description After teaching by now 11 workshops to altogether 4 schools, I am once again ready to swim, after an enormous effort on my part to see it come together!
Organizationally, I have never worked so hard in my life to see something come to fruition, then fall apart, then go towards another fruition, then have it fall apart, and so on.
Last Friday the 13., (!), I began swimming from Playa Tecolote towards th South, and managed to make excellent miles on that first day, but with a difficult site for the night.
For the first time, I had to sleep on a little boat, – there were many scorpions under the rocks on the rocky beach, so camping was out of the question! – and had to wake up the boat driver several times to reposition the boat since it was banging on the rocks in the increasing winds.
On the second day of the swim, after having been lost to the boat support for over an hour, I realized that the one truly life threatening aspect of these marathon swims is losing contact with the boat driver! I have never been so scared before, and began to wonder what I would do should he never be able to locate me again. Should I go ashore, and find a house in the desert? Should I climb on a rock, for more visibility? should I swim North, or South, away from the shore or towards it? All my whistling did not help – he was simply too far away….Sharks are no danger to me, but this was a danger indeed! After reuniting, I devised a floater behind me: a red dry bag, filled with air, on a belt.
I am lookinjg for a sponsored dive security float at this point!
After a very long second day swim, I camped on the lovely beach at Saltito, and it was a splendid night indeed – millions of stars in the sky, and a gratitude to life for still being alive and seeing my 3 children again at the end of these 2 large swims!
On the third day, the weather changed fairly dramatically, and the waves became larger. After swimming 3 hours, the engine gave out, another very frightening thing that can happen regarding the boat support!
The boat had to be taken to a safe anchorage to stay while the boat support Alberto went to buy a new engine starter.
During that time, I went to the famous luxury hotel Las Cruces, where a kind guest invited me for lunch and arranged for me to meet the owner Nick Rodriguez, grandson of a former Mexican president. He invited me to stay overnight.
The next day, the weather had worsened, and even though I love to swim in big water, the boat was unable to handle the big waves, so I lost another day ….By this time, I had swum cumulatively 130 km including the swim around Isla Espiritu Santo and the channel crossing.
I was so disappointed …..The following day, after spending anther night at Las Cruces, the weather had gotten even worse, and since I was not offered a third night, accepted a ride back to La Paz with an employee of the resort.
I was in tears for a good part of the ride back. This is not a scenario I had imagined….Giving up had never been an option for me!
So on Wednesday I found myself back in La Paz, in tears.
Working constantly, late INTO THE NIGHT, and with the help of grupo Tortuguero, I figured out a way to continue the swim, against ALL ODDS, and countless emails and phone calls later!
Tomorrow, accompanied by Karen from Grupo Tortuguero, I will leave at 5 am to begin swimming where I had last ended up, just outside of Las Cruces. The first nights will be sponsored by Baja Joes, and they also recommended a boat driver who is able to stay within my small budget of 100$ per swim day.
I can not wait to get into the water again….Grupo Tortuguero will help coordinate the swim South. I am so very pleased to have coincidentally run into this NGO, simply by walking past their offices, and stopping by out of curiosity! Strangely, no one had mentioned this wonderful NGO to me before! Iam writing from their computer right now, and have made all the calls to arrange for tomorrows departure on their land line. Thanks to you all at Grupo Tortugero! And thank you to Matilda Cevantes for giving me the contact with Baja Joe! Networking is what makes or breaks such a complex swim project, and I never forget who gave me information that led to being able to go on with the swim odyssey….
I am writing to you from the computer in the office of Grupo Tortuguero de las Californias, A.C., a turtle protection NGO here in La Paz.
Karen Oceguera , the secretary and specialist in turle nesting sites, has agreed to look after the next segment of the swim, thank goodness!
It is so extremely frustrating for me to be land locked during a swim, I can not wait to get out into the water again!
However, I am making very good use of my time, and have been able to touch once again the lives of 4 school classes, that is, 120 school children from age 7 to 10. it is so rewarding to speak and interact with school children of this town! They are so eager to participate, to learn, to be involved in the saving of our lovely planet, and to share their overwhelming love!
Being hugged by dozens of kids makes up for some of the disappointment coming form the adults….
It has always been so easy to enter schools, and all I have to do is show up! The school principals never say no! After all, my service is free of charge, and relieves the teachers a bit for an hour, and everyone learns something new.
There is so much love in these children…Yesterday, I received lots of little love letters and drawings by lots of boys and girls, as a thank you – so very touching!
My neigbour brought me to the school, since her son goes there, so I suggested to accompany her there, and voila!
It is so easy to reach out! And everything begins with education!
These childfren seem to know so much more than some of the marine biologists I have talked to – children have a natural sense of connection with all beings, of ecology and of the mysterious ways in which life brings us all together!
Description QUERIDAS AMIGAS Y AMIGOS, FINALMENTE TENGO CHANCE QUE UN NUEVO AMIGO QUE SE LLAMA POLY ME ESTA REGALANDO SU TIEMPO PARA ESCRIBIR ALGO DE LO QUE HA PASADO EN ESTOS ULTIMOS DIAS.
YO TUVE LA OPORTUNIDAD DE TENER UNA TERAPIA DE REFLEXOLOGIA Y OTRA DE REIKI EN EL CENTRO DE TERAPIAS COMPLEMENTARIAS PARA LA SALUD AQUI EN LA PAZ,BCS.MEX. UN DIA ANTES DE MI SALIDA A LA TRAVESIA HACIA EL SUR. AHORA EL REFLEXOLOGO ES LA MISMA PERSONA QUE ME ESTA HACIENDO EL FAVOR DE ESCRIBIR ESTAS LINEAS EN ESPAÑOL. CUANDO RECIBI REGALADAS ESTAS TERAPIAS DE REFLEXOLOGIA Y DE REIKI, ME SENTI REALMENTE APAPACHADA Y RELAJADA, ESTOS DIAS AQUI HAN SIDO EXTREMADAMENTE DIFICILES PARA MI CON TANTAS PROMESAS FALSAS , LAMENTABLEMENTE YA ESTOY DE REGRESO EN LA PAZ, DESPUES DE NADA MAS DE DOS DIAS Y MEDIO DE NADO, A CONSECUENCIA DEL MAL TIEMPO Y EL MOTOR DEL BOTE DESPERFECTO.
MIRANDO AL MAR DOS DIAS SEGUIDOS CON SU BELLEZA Y FUERZA , ENERGIA Y TENTACION, FUI CASI TORTURA.
YO SI HUBIERA PODIDO NADAR BAJO ESTAS CONDICIONES, SOLO QUE EL LANCHERO TUVO MIEDO DE CONTINUAR POR LOS PROBLEMAS QUE PRESENTABA EL MOTOR DE LA LANCHA ADEMAS DE LAS GRANDES OLAS QUE QUEBRARON A CADA RATO.
TENER QUE REGRESAR FUE TERRIBLEMENTE DURO PARA MI, ESCUCHAR OTRA VEZ EL RUIDO DE LA CIUDAD Y NO EL RUIDO DEL MAR ES MUY AJENO PARA MI .
AHORA NI SE COMO CONTINUAR. EL ESFUERZO ES TAN GRANDE PARA ORGANIZAR TODO, DESPUES DEL ENGAÑO TOTAL DEL SUPUESTO ORGANIZADOR QUE NO PODER NADAR POR EL MAL TIEMPO LO SIENTO COMO UN CASTIGO, COMO TENGO QUE PAGAR LOS 100 DLSS. SI NADO O NO, SE ME HACE IMPOSIBLE CONTINUAR EN ESTE MOMENTO. TENGO QUE RESPETAR TAMBIEN A MIS PATROCINADORES QUE QUIEREN QUE EL DINERO SALGA DEL NADO Y NO PARA ESPERAR EL NADO, TAMBIEN LA MANERA EN QUE ME TRATO ESTE LANCHERO FUE MUY DURO PARA MI. LA FALTA TOTAL DE RESPETO, POR ESOS GRITOS QUE DIRIJIO A MI PERSONA Y NO CUIDAR LOS LIMITES A MI PERSONA, POR SU FALTA TAMBIEN DE PROFESIONALISMO PARA CUIDARME AL IR NADANDO, LO HACE UNA PERSONA IRRESPONSABLE QUE NO PUEDO OCUPAR, PUES SEGUIR CONTRATANDOLO SERIA ARRIESGAR MI VIDA, ES DECIR TENGO QUE REGRESAR DE NUEVO A BUSCAR UN NUEVO APOYO.
MAÑANA POR LA MAÑANA VOY A IMPARTIR UNAS CLASES EN UNA ESCUELA PUBLICA DONDE ANDA EL HIJO DE MI VECINA.
ESTA PARTE DE LA TRAVESIA TAMBIEN ES MUY IMPORTANTE, ESPECIALMENTE EDUCANDO A LOS JOVENES, ESTA VA HA SER LA CLASE NUMERO 8 QUE IMPARTO AQUI EN LA PAZ. Y ME GUSTARIA IMPARTIR MAS CLASES PARA ADULTOS TAMBIEN. QUIZAS PODRIA DAR UNA CLASE EN EL CENTRO DE TERAPIAS COMPLEMENTARIAS PARA LA SALUD EN AGRADECIMIENTO A SUS TERAPIAS, QUE ME ESTAN APOYANDO MUCHISIMO.
AL SUBIR A LA LANCHA ANTES DE AYER, ME LASTIME LA ESPALDA, POR FALTA DE APOYO DEL LANCHERO PARA SUBIRME, ESPERO QUE TAL VEZ MAÑANA POLY SE ENCARGUE DE ELIMINARME ESTE DOLOR.
DOS NOCHES DE ESTAS 4 NOCHES QUE FUE AFUERA DE LA PAZ POR EL NADO, ESTABA INVITADA A QUEDARME DOS NOCHES EN UN HOTEL CARISIMO Y BELLISIMO AL LADO DEL MAR DURANTE EL MAL TIEMPO Y AHI MISMO TUVE OPORTUNIDAD DE ENSEÑAR A UN HUESPED SOBRE LA NECESIDAD DE CUIDAR AL MAR INCLUSIVE REPENSANDO SOBRE EL AGUA DULCE QUE TOMAMOS.
ES MUCHO MEJOR TOMAR EL AGUA DE LA LLAVE QUE LA EMBOTELLADA, POR LA POLUSION QUE TRAE A LOS MARES.
ESTO FUE ALGO TOTALMENTE NUEVO PARA ESTA SEÑORA, PUES NUNCA SE HABIA DADO CUENTA QUE CADA BOTELLA DE AGUA QUE COMPRAS VA AL MAR CONTAMINANDOLO MAS DE LO QUE YA ESTA. HAY UN LUGAR EN EL PACIFICO DEL TAMAÑO DEL CONTINENTE AFRICANO LLENO DE BOTELLAS Y BASURA PLASTICA. LAMENTABLEMENTE HAY OTRO LUGAR DEL TAMAÑO DE TEXAS QUE TAMBIEN ESTA LLENO DE LO MISMO.
ENTONCES MI META DE LA TRAVESIA INCLUYE COMO COMPORTARNOS MEJOR EN LA TIERRA PARA BAJAR EL SUFRIMIENTO DEL MAR.
POR HOY ME DESPIDO CON UN GRAN BESO A TODOS Y ESPECIALMENTE AL ESCRITOR.
Description Dear Friends,
Since I am not swimming today due to poor weather conditions, I am able to write to you 2 days in a row!
The hotel “Rancho las Cruces” is a quiet refuge where I can read the “Rediscovery” book by Thom Henley in preparation for the Marine Rite of Passage in Costa Rica, and watch the amazing breakers that even send spray right to where I SIT AT THE EDGE OF THE NOW VERY WILD OCEAN!
After my first experience of being lost by the boat driver, I am not anxious to repeat that experience and prefer to sit out a day like this to being lost forever in a raging sea, without any means of communications. Any one out there with a tagging system for humans that they would like to send me? Some kind of emergency signalling device that gets sent off to local Coast Guard stations to come and get me in case the boat driver really can not find me at all…?
When this first happened 2 days ago, I for the first time realized that this is the biggest danger of my big swims, and it is indeed a life threatening danger!
Sharks really do not present any danger as far as I am concerned, jelly fish are unpleasant but not life threatening – BUT BEING LOST BY THE BOAT SUPPORT IS A GREAT DANGER INDEED.
YET, AS I WATCH THESE BEAUTIFUL BREAKERS A FEW METERS BEFORE ME, I FEEL SUCH A SENSE OF HOMESICKNESS.
It is hard to describe to anyone who is not so totally dependent on the sea as I am, due to the after- effects of the thrombosis I suffered in 2005.
The only time I feel really well is in the ocean , swimming. On land, I am in constant pain.
Sitting at the dinner table with Willard Shepherd, the man who introduced me to the owner Nick of las Cruces, I realized that a normal life simply is not in the books any longer – within half an hour of that lovely and elegant dinner, my legs hurt, and I am looking for ways to alleviate the pain. THANKFULLY, Willard provided me with a few Ibuprofen, also to alleviate the back pain from a poor entry into the support boat yesterday
Until now, I have not met anyone else in the same position, it would be such a relief to finally meet someone who had the same after-effects of a thrombosis, throwing their normal life totally out of kilter.
I so miss having an assistant with me…
There are days and moments when the going gets really, really hard, especially when there is no one to talk with, on whose shoulder to cry.
I now really understand Rob Dyke’s advice: the team is the single most important component of a successful long haul swim!
He swam around Vancouver Island, as a fundraiser for the Canadian Red Cross, who coordinated his swim.
Not having an organization behind me makes it really hard to find credibility, even though my slogan “one person can make a difference” shows that even alone, one can achieve great things.
The wind is picking up, making my chances for tomorrow’s swim even slimmer….The hotel owner Nick Rodriguez does not think that my support boat can handle such strong seas….I can swim them, but with a sunk support boat the situation would be grim indeed, given also that I carry all my belongings on the boat, including all my ID!
And I am not so sure that I want to test my hard rescue skills right here, on the support boat driver in huge wind and waves!
Please, those of you that read this today, send your prayers and positive thoughts. I am scared, and discouraged. This is so hard to do alone…
Description Dear friends and supporters,
Just now, in a storm, a wonderful hotel named Las Cruces has invited me to stay for as long as necessary as a guest, to ride out the storm!
This is an exclusive hotel that only members can go to, a gated and inaccessible refuge by the sea that I swam to just when the motor on the support boat broke down! talk of good luck within bad luck! my boat support driver Alberto has already hitchhiked back to town to replace the faulty part, but by the time he got back it was too late to start swimming again. Also, the forecast calls for worse weather tomorrow…..Though I absolutely love to swim in storms, it is had on the boat, and so I have to adjust under the circumstances.
As soon as I am in the water, a total transformation takes place inside me, and I access the part in me that is absolutely still, absolutely peaceful. except when my boat driver disappears out of sight for an hour, the one situation that is truly life threatening!it is a desert out here, and if I were to lose him totally, it would mean hiking out, and perhaps not making it out alive…The relationship disintegrated after hat event, and Alberto became quite abusive and hostile towards me, making the time spent with him frightening and unpleasant.
So far, I have never had an experience with a boat drive that turned noxious, and I am not sure how to handle it…being yelled at and spoken to disrespectfully and in an insulting manner is not exactly what I expected from a boat support person!
This is all so very different than my Costa Rican swim experiences…..hard to adjust, after I had been treated with so much love and kindness there. The owner of Baja paradise, Lalo, had been so very lovely with me that I am so surprised that his boat driver has dared to treat me so unkindly….
Hopefully, Lalo himself will be at the helm soon himself, this was, after all, the original idea. But he is also running a business, and I can only hope that he will have at least a few days to be with me. I so look forward to that!
The ocean is pounding the shore just ahead of where I am sitting and writing to you, a spectacular sight in the early evening, the salt spray is caressing my skin and tickling my nose! A special thanks to all of you who are faithfully writing to me, it is so very much appreciated and I respond to every letter personally! it does get lonely, and especially your words of encouragement can make all the difference on any given day! keep writing!
Much love to all of you, I am now 130 km into the swim!
Today is the final day before I begin the big swim from Playa Tecolote to Cabo San Lucas. I can not wait to get into the water….There has been so much media attention and next to no real support. many promises, yes, but so often they were just empty words…
So it appears that my dear boat driver Lalo and I will do this journey on our own, with the support of the fishing villages along the way!
I always have had more trust in the humble people of the earth than those in power…
At 5.30 in the morning Lalo will pick me up, and we finally will set sail , so to speak!
Today I had the good fortune to be treated to a marvellous session of Reflexology and Reiki, this was sorely needed….
I know that my presence is making a difference to many people. This morning, I was invited to take a dance class, and the teacher told me afterwards that the things I told her about were totally new to her – like that the water that runs in your tap tends to be safer to drink than the water you buy!
So I am able to reach people via the media and one by one, or in small groups.
I need all of your support….any of you who are reading this, please write and let me know that all this matters!
Dear friends and supporters,
I am writing to you on the last day before I begin the south portion of the long Baja swim.
Tomorrow, at 6 am, accompanied by TV channel 8 and TV Azteca, which can be viewed nationwide, I will jump in the water at Playa Tecolote.
It has been extremely hard going since I arrived due to the absolute lack of organization ahead of time. I had – now it appears , terribly naively! – assumed that all the work I have done in the last 2 weeks, around the clock, would have been done in the last 6 months , as promised by the supposed organizer who in fact actually failed to come through on the entire project, something I have so far never experienced in my entire life.
I believed that a big name and a big company behind that name would bind that person to some accountability, but alas, I was terribly wrong…
So this was a very painful learning experience.
However, kind souls have appeared along the way, and thanks to Yolanda, the owner of the Dock Cafe at the La Paz Marina, I have been sponsored to countless meals a her lovely little restaurant. It has become my second home here, and everyone there, including all the waiters, have treated me like family, and have proudly brought me publications when they show up in the newspapers, told me about my TV appearances, and generally have been my very much needed cheering committee!!
On the food side, a tiny shop I walked into on my way home 2 days ago, named Sapore, full of fabulous gourmet foods primarily from Italy, and owned by Ciro Calderon, became another refuge of sorts, and Ciro has given me an enormous care package to feed me along the 300 km swim beginning tomorrow.
Gestures like these make all the difference and show that in spite of all the difficulties, there are incredibly kind people out there that genuinely like to make a difference, and do so in very real ways.
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to meet with Edna Llorens, a well-known Mexican competitive swimmer, who kindly invited me into her home to a lovely supper and gave me some extremely important contacts.
The most important of these was with Ricardo Garcia, the director ot the Secretariat of Tourism.
He was most interested in my project and has agreed to organize a big swim event from La Paz to Todos Santos on the Pacific side, but next year, to have enough lead time to have it done right.
Since I am here now, I have chosen to go ahead anyway, even though real support is and has been minimal. Lalo, the owner of Baja Paradise, will accompany me with his boat, and I have complete confidence in him. He knows the coast, as well as his captain, when he can not be with me personally.
There is a connection here that goes way beyond basic boat support – we seem to be on the same plane regarding the situation of the sea, and he really wants to be a part of this project, even though financially with the 100$US I can offer him daily, he will not have much, if anything, left at the end. This volunteer spirit is very touching to me!
I must have made dozens, if not hundreds, of phone calls and emails in these days of trying to pull a project together that would have needed those 6 months of support that I, of course, had expected from….
This kind of abandonment is extremely hard for me, as I believe it would be for anyone who came from a family history with betrayal issues. My mother was a holocaust survivor!
Thanks to James Curtiss, I have had 2 chances to swim and dive with the sea lion colony at Los Islotes.
There is a special magic when encountering these extremely curious, playful and intelligent creatures.
Yesterday, one little sea lion kid stayed and played with me for a full hour, while the other people on the boat dived.
It was a feeling of real contact that this child being communicated to me, and I have little bite marks to prove it! The sea lion kids nibble everything accessible as a way to learn about it, much in the way toddlers taste everything and put it into their mouth to explore it.
I will always remember this colony of sea lions, they have such a deep sense of family and truly care for one another. We have much to learn from their ways of looking after their kids and living peacefully together as a community!
I was able to complete the swim around the Isla Espiritu Santo in 4 days, the backside just in one day. That last day was exquisitely beautiful, with so much wildlife to see since I swam very close to the rocky shore, and there was very little wind!
On the last day before the east side, an Olive Ridley turtle chose to accompany me for the better part of an hour, often looking me straight into my eyes. I had a light hand on her back most of that time, and the companionship did much to alleviate the sense of alienation I had been feeling due to the failure of the prearranged organization.
It always amazed me how wild animals always seem to appear at the right moment, when most needed….and of their own free will!
I was able to teach 7 workshops so far, 2 at the island to EPI Ecology Project International students.
I am, in fact, using their computer and am very grateful for the use of it as well as the telephone these last 2 weeks since my arrival here!
Without access to a telephone and computer, it would have been impossible to coordinate the swim from scratch…I would have loved to teach more workshops for EPI, maybe that will come when I return for the swim organized by Ricardo Garcia next year!
Yesterday, I met one of the managers of Baja Ferries, who also wishes to be a part of a well organized swim next year!
So I need to see the time I spent here, some of it in near despair, as a preparatory stage for a really well organized and nationally reported swim to benefit the Mar de Cortez….
Except for the first 6 nights, I have stayed at Maria Teresa Solomons little home, who has generously agreed to let me stay there, sponsored by her!
Though we have not yet met in person, she has been a great solace to me with her many caring and wise emails. I hope to meet her before I leave for Costa Rica on the 14. of December!
Having a quiet refuge to come home to at night has been such a treat….
Dear friends, i am writing at 3 am since I can not sleep….it appears that the organization that I thought had taken place months before I actually came here did not happen at all. This is a situation i could have never anticipated and for which I have no prior experience…..totally stressful, and I wish I had nerves of steel.
In spite of incredible odds and , except for the organizer that I had placed my trust in, not knowing anyone in La Paz, I managed, entirely on my own research and resoucefulness, to hire an exceptional company named Punta Baja to accompany me by boat for 4 days of swimming across the San Lorenzo channel, and around the Isla espiritu Santo, 65 km in all. Martin, the owner of Punta Baja, was willing to stay within my budget of $100 US per boat support day!
The weather was extremely stormy one day and so I could not really swim except in the safe bay where I was staying. I love swimming in big water, but it is dangerous for the boat and so I also have to make sure everyone is safe.
Today I have the good fortune to be invited to go scuba diving with Carey Diving charter, a beautiful gift to take my mind off the daunting task to coordinate a first ever long haul swim along the Baja peninsula!
Gabriel, the owner of Carey, introduced me to Martin, with who I hope to make a contract for the remainder of the swim journey, since I have absolute trust in him and in his capitan, the boat driver.
I managed to be front page news in 2 local newspapers so far, as well as 2 TV appearances on national Mexican TV so far! I
just wish this would help in finding logistical support, and a real organizer…This kinf of expedition really takes a team, and it is really too much for one person to do everything….I am totally overburdened and need help at this point, from a reliable source!
I managed to give 2 workshops to highschool students so far at their Ecology Project International camp on Isla Espiritu Santo, which they loved.
Description Yesterday on October 24th the Global Day for Climate Action, I began my journey to Baja. Jadranka, my dear house mate from Kroatia drove to the airport and took home my sewing kit including scissors that didn’t pass the x-ray test. It was a beautiful sunset flight to Seattle where I spent my first night at the posh Hilton Hotel. Strangely, this was the first time after hundred eighty nights of two prior expeditions that a Hotel did not sponsor me, but a friend arranged a family rate. I had to be at the airport by 5 am and had the privilege to watch a beautiful sunrise on the flight south. When I arrived in La Paz my luggage was not there. Thankfully however Tim was there waiting for me. I can only hope that my baggage will show up tomorrow. I´m hosted by the Ecology Project International, where I’m planning to give a workshop in the next few days. After the Canadian cold it is extremely hot here. I have the good fortune to have a beautiful young Costa Rican woman type this for me. Sofia reminds me of all the that I love about Costa Rica-
Spontaneity, generosity, kindness and boundless enthusiasm, always willing to help. I feel so blessed to have a Costa Rican share my first evening in Mexico. Tomorrow morning I´ll meet Tim Means, the owner of Baja Expeditions, to arrange for media interviews.
I just realized that my clothes are in my lost luggage and Sofia just offered to dismantle her chest of drawers so I can wear the fabric she has used to decorate it, to my press conference.
Good night everyone, and perhaps Sofia will agree to write another one tomorrow.
Description First blog entry
I’m in the last stages of preparation for my two upcoming marine sanctuary swims. On Saturday I will fly to Seattle where I will spend one night and leave on a very early morning flight to La Paz, Baja, Mexico. There are many uncertainties about the Baja swim. I hope that I will be met at the airport by Tim Means, the owner of Baja Expeditions, the company I went on the whale shark research expedition with.
Today was an amazing day. As I drove back from Gabriola Island, after doing an evening presentation at the Roxy cinema there, I remembered that one of the audience members had given me a check that was folded and instructed me to wait until Thursday before depositing it at the bank. She told me she was unemployed. During a red light, while driving home, I decided to have a peek. Of course, I had no idea what to expect. Brenda Bernhardt had written me a check for one thousand dollars! An incredible gesture of generosity, especially coming from an unemployed person. I was completely stunned. This is not something I have ever experienced before. Brenda had only known me for the length of a brief evening, and is in fact now sponsoring ten boat support days. She also offered to send me vital energy every morning at five a.m. throughout the five months expedition. Such generosity is totally overwhelming to me.
Also today, John Fitzpatrick, the owner of Nutristart, a very high grade nutritional supplement company, gifted me with five months of supplements to last me throughout the journey. As well, he gave me a little traveling pillow and flash light to keep me safe, and lots of good camping advice. I’m so touched by the generosity of people who are choosing to support this environmental swim.
With only two more days to go, there is still so much left to do, so many phone calls to make, e-mails to write, and environmental organizations to contact. Just yesterday I finally received the verbal commitment by a young Costa Rican boat driver name Ezequiel to accompany the entire Costa Rican swim. This is what I’ve been dreaming about during the last two swims. With a full commitment like that, the biggest headache of that swim is gone. No more reinventing the wheel every few days, no more pulling my hairs out one by one, wondering where I will find my next boat support. This time in Costa Rica, I hope to have an audience with the President of the country, to urge him to be the first in the world to declare a full thirty percent of Costa Rican waters as a marine sanctuary.
My dear friend and colleague Marcos Carazo is busy organizing a press conference the day after my arrival in Costa Rica and coordinating the youth group that will swim with me the inside of the Golfo Dulce. We talk almost every day now. Since I won’t be able to have many phone contacts once I begin the Baja swim, I need to coordinate as much as I possibly can now, in the next couple of days.
As always, many things will only get done when I arrive in Mexico, as well as later in Costa Rica. To journey like this takes a huge amount of faith and trust in the universe. Sometimes I don’t sleep at night. And then beautiful souls like Brenda appear in my life reminding me that there is so much love and support out there when one is truly committed to the healing of the Earth.
The dear hands that are typing this are not mine. As in every other journal entry I have ever submitted to the web site there has always been a kind soul with nimble fingers who has typed them for me. I’m very fortunate to have Jadranka not only type so beautifully for me, but also live in my home, greet me when I come home, share wonderful dinners, indulge with me in pie with ice cream and whipping cream – after all, swimming huge distances is not for skinny souls! – and share walks in these incredible fall colours. Having a physicist around makes for great forest conversations. I’m trying to understand one of her comments, that 95 % of the mass of the Universe is unobservable dark matter. It just shows how very, very little we actually know and how arrogant we have been on this beautiful fragile planet Earth that is groaning under the mass of exploitation humanity has imposed on Her. Jadranka will stay in my home while I’m travelling and I trust she will be welcomed by my tree family, and deers, owls and eagles, and that she will greatly enjoy the huge library I have and the warm spirit of the house. I’m going to miss her. But it will help me to look forward to coming back. She just agreed to write further blogs via Skype along the journey! Thank you!
I will arrive back just in time before the tenth anniversary performance of Axe Capoeira at the Royal Theatre and look forward to seeing my son fly through the air with all his friends.
I will not be able to write blogs daily, but will try to submit something on a weekly basis. You, my dear readers, are more than welcome to write to me, encourage me, send me love and good wishes and include me in your prayers and meditations, as I will with you.
It is time to sleep now, and I send you all a big hug.
2009 Costa Rica Swim
THIS WEEK HAS BEEN INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING, SINCE I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND BOAT SUPPORT IN A VILLAGE OF FISHERMEN.
MY BUDGET IS NOT THE SAME AS THAT OF THE SPORT FISHERMEN WHO ARE USED TO SPENDING UPWARDS OF 500$ PER DAY FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF RACING OUT TO SEA AND PULLING AT A BIG FISH FIGHTING FOR ITS LIFE, AND THEN – HOPEFULLY – RELEASING IT BACK WITH A SORE MOUTH AND A WOUND TO HEAL.
I APPEAR TO HAVE SOMETHING SIMILAR HAPPENING TO ME RIGHT NOW – MAYBE A GODSEND TO FIND DEEP COMPASSION FOR ALL THE SUFFERING CREATURES IN THE SEA?
BECAUSE OF THE FIRST DAY’S SWIM TAKING 9 1/2 HOURS TO COMPLETE 28 KM, FROM PUERTO JIMENEZ TO ZANCUDO, AND USING A SNORKEL ALL OF THE WAY BECAUSE OF THE STIFF WAVES, AND THE FOLLOWING DAY 7 HOURS TO PUNTA BANCO WITH THE SAME SNORKEL, MY MOUTH HAS DEVELOPED A DEEP SORE THAT IS NOT RESPONDING TO ANTIBIOTICS OR PAIN KILLERS.
SO BEING LAND BOUND IN SEARCH OF SPONSORS WAS PERHAPS THE IDEAL TIME TO HAVE THIS HAPPEN…?
NOW MINAE AND THE MUNICIPALITIES ARE GETTING INVOLVED IN THE SWIM, AND I HOPE FOR SUBSTANTIAL SUPPORT , ESPECIALLY REGARDING BOATS, FROM THEM.
I AM DELIGHTED TO HAVE SUBSTANTIAL SUPPORT COMING FROM THE MINISTERY OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO MEET ITS DIRECTOR, MRS. ETILMA MORALES, WHO PROMISED FULL INVOLVEMENT.
I HAVE FOUND A KINDRED SPIRIT ALSO IN LIDIA GALIMANY, RIGHT HAND TO THE MAYOR OF GOLFITO, JIMMY CUVILLO, AND SHE IS PASSIONATELY WORKING NONSTOP TO FIND GOOD SPONSORS AND SUPPORT BOATS.
ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT HOTEL CHAINS OF THE COUNTRY, CAYUGA, HAS OFFERED HOTEL SUPPORT VIA HANS PFISTER , A REAL BONUS FOR MUCH NEEDED REST WHEN I AM ONSHORE.
SINCE I AM A ONE PERSON ORGANIZATION, UPDATES WILL BE SHORT AND WEEKLY. IT IS A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF WORK TO ORGANIZE THIS ON TOP OF SWIMMING IT ALSO.
I AM NOW THE ONLY PERSON TO HAVE CROSSED THE GOLFO DULCE, AND I HAVE DONE IT TWICE.
THE GREATEST ULTRA ATHLETES OF THE COUNTRY ARE CONGRATULATING ME, A HUGE HONOR GIVEN THAT I DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER MYSELF AN ATHLETE…MORE A MERMAID…
I left my home on Vancouver Island on New Years Day, in the midst of the coldest and snowiest winter season we have had in almost forty years.
To arrive in a balmy country was such a relief!
My dear friend Ana Lucía González waited for me at the airport and took me to her brand new little house that became my office and sanctuary for the next ten days.
I just about chained myself to her computer in order to organize as much as possible the logistics of the swim as well as arrange for press interviews, workshops and conferences.
Alas, I never got to see the gold museum that I wanted to see so badly!
That just means that I have to come back!
On my second day here, I was interviewed by Radio Columbia, one of the major news networks. Hours later, while I was typing on the computer, I wondered if a big truck was having a collision with Ana Lucía’s gate that made a horrible noise, then I realized the whole house was shaking! This went on for close to a minute and it became clear to me that I was in the midst of an earthquake.
This earthquake became a major tragedy for Costa Rica. Many people died, more lost their homes, and thousands were trapped for days in the steep mountains where the earth split.
There were major landslides caused by the 6.2 to 8 Richter Scale earthquake and rivers turned to mud, making roads impassable.
Bridges were destroyed and houses slipped into cracks in the earth, sometimes taking the owners with them.
I was beginning to question the timing of my swim. On the other hand, something as positive as a swim for Marine Sanctuaries might even allow people to not only contemplate the disaster that had befallen them, but also to get an oportunity to participate in a celebration of life and the sea herself.
Meeting the great environmental organizations of the country was a very big part of my days here in the city and very good liasons were made.
I got to know Randall Arauz director of Pretoma, and he offered support along the swim route as well as networking.
After the radio transmission, I received a phone call from a crown prosecutor from the Court House, Luis Chang, who promised to help in any way possible.
Two days later, I found myself speaking to a very large gathering of the country`s highest level lawyers, judges, doctors and other important people. I managed to involve Randall Arauz in this gathering and was very pleased to be able to introduce him to people who in the future might have the power to affect positive environmental legislation and enforcement.
This kind of networking is very necessary.
The more we are united in our struggles the more effective we can be!
Randall also gave me the opportunity to speak at a meeting of the major turtle protection organizations in the country.
Pretoma even transported my gear to the Southern region and arranged for a base in Zancudo.
In Golfito, I am offered to stay in the research vessel of Mar Viva, another of the country`s marine protection organizations.
Pretoma also hopes to offer me support in Guanacaste, perhaps even a support boat!
Press coverage has been surprisingly good, given that the country is consumed by earthquake news. Today I was interviewed for TV and will be on the national news tomorrow evening.
French and Spanish news reporters also came to today`s press conference and so I assume that there will be press coverage in Europe.
My first corporate sponsor is Sansa Regional, a Costa Rican airline that flies only within the country.
This was solicited by one of the crown prosecutors.
I am continually astonished by the incredible generosity of everyone I have met, and the phenomenal enthusiasm of so many people who choose to share in this dream journey.
I feel like the whole country will be swimming with me in spirit!
There is a special magic in doing a project like this in a very small country where everybody knows you after a while.
Costa Rica truly is the cradle of my swim journeys for Marine Sanctuaries.
Tomorrow morning I´ll fly, courtesy of Sansa Regional, to my first base in Puerto Jiménez. My original sponsor from the Golfo Dulce swim, Jeff Hodges, owner of Osa Discoveries, will meet me at the airport as well as half the town along with my workshop sponsor there.
On Sunday I`ll be seen off by many people as I begin the ceremony of my migratory swim.
2008 Costa Rica Swim
Once again I have the good fortune of a kind sponsor with nimble fingers to inform you of my current whereabouts.
Right now I am staying at the peaceful and lovely Tamarindo Village, where Christi Van Akkeren’s mother Judy has invited me to stay for a few days.
Today is unfortunately one of those days when boat support could not be located, thus I have time to write to you.
Yesterday I swam the section from Isla Tamarindo to Playa Conchal and was able to have very close encounters with three deadly but small mouthed sea snakes nose to nose, and countless manta rays. I am quickly falling in love with these magnificant and graceful creatures that come on occassion very very close to me.
I am hoping to be able to go on a sponsored dive in this area to finally have a close encounter with sharks who have eluded me during my forty long days of swimming.
Judy this morning told me of the recent arrest of several large commercial fishing boats which were found to be fishing illegally within the protected water of Isla de Coco that were taken to Puntarenas and later released by a judge without fines or any other negative consequences, thus showing there is literally no protection enforced for the marine sanctuary and its inhabitants.
This is making me think that should there at any point be any funds available for the second purpose of this and future swims, fund raising, I would like to dedicate the funds raised to organizations patrolling marine sanctuaries. The first purpose is raising awareness to the absolute need for marine sanctuaries world wide.
This coming Saturday Christi from Lola’s is actually holding a fund raiser for this and future swims, thus seeding my second attempt at a border to border swim with proper sponsorship and organization, one boat and one boat driver.
Unfortunately, because I have had to do most of the organizing and logistics for this swim, this first attempt will end at Playa del Coco. This is certainly not becaue of lack of swimming ability, endurance or committment. On the days on which I have had a boat I have swum the promised eight hours and usually covered between 15 and 25 kilometers depending on currents.
Date 2/2/2008 4:24:54 PM
02 de febrero 2008. hoy fue el segundo día de la travesia, y tuve la oportunidad de nadar con 13 delfines por más de una hora… fue increible escuchar como se comunicaban entre ellos,,, me senti muy feliz y espero ver delfines cada día de la travesia… hasta ahora el progreso fue un poco lento, por las corrientes y mareas, pero hasta hoy nade 14 horas. el hotel que me alberga,, es Tiskita Lodge, es bellisimo y me siento muy acogida con ellos.
La lancha que nos acompaña, lamentablemente es muy cara, osea $300 diarios y ya se acabo el efectivo,, entonces mañana hacemos una pausa… de todos maneras con este precio no podemos continuar por mucho tiempo más,, por suerte desde el proximo lunes tengo la compañia de un yate, para acompañar y dar hospedage y alimentación.
Mi acompañante, Daniel López A, se queda hasta el proximo viernes. El me ayuda con el uso del GPS, para tomar los waypoints y calcular y medir las rutas que voy a nadar.
Date 1/29/2008 3:36:45 PM
Melissa, a young 18 year old woman, who guided me yesterday on a phenomenal 140ft rappell, shared my first longer swim in the Pacific today. We spent 4 hours exploring the bay of National Parque Marino Ballena, to get a feeling for tides and currents. In two days the official swim begins.
Early this morning, I taught a workshop and gave a lecture to 75 highschool students, and approx 10 locals. This evening I will give my first aquadance workshop at the pool of Roca Verde, where my room and pool space of this hotel-restaurant were donated by owner Mike Witte.
Two days ago, I had the opportunity to see the most amazing mantarays in their graceful elegance, while on a donated dolphin tour.
Miércoles 23 de enero
Llegué el lunes 21 en la noche y tuve una magnífica recepción en el Aeropuerto Juan Santamaría en Costa Rica. Me recibió el grupo de la Asociación Programas Sociales de Dominical, con una manta de bienvenida, un ramo de rosas multicolores, y muchísimos abrazos.
Mi amiga Ana Lucía, una gran nadadora costarricense, que está preparándose para competir en el Mundial master de natación en Australia, me recibió en su casa donde me quedé las primeras tres noches, ella me invitó a hacer el rafting de Pacuare, un río hasta clase 4 de rápidos. Fue un día realmente encantador.
Mi primer día aquí en San José, dí un taller en el Centro Científico Tropical, con sus empleados y los amigos de Dominical. El taller fue muy exitoso y el director del centro, don Javier Rodríguez, nos prometió apoyo . Uno de sus empleados, me dió una bendición muy linda y muy emocionante, para que siguiera adelante con la travesía.
En la tarde fuimos a la Asamblea Legislativa, y conversamos con cinco diputados, algunos de los cuales nos prometieron apoyo. Tres de ellos son el licenciado José Manuel Echandi Meza, Olivier Ivo Jiménez Rojas y el doctor Guillermo Constenla Umaña.
Mañana ya vamos a Dominical para dar tres talleres y una conferencia de prensa, antes de empezar la travesía. Ya tenemos más de 200 participantes registrados para recibir estos talleres.
Me siento en el medio de un milagro a que se está haciendo realidad.