339. Learn To Surf

I have always wanted to learn to surf. Actually no, that’s a lie. I have always wanted to be able to surf. I’ve never been disillusioned as to the fact it is a fairly hard slog until you get the hang of it, which is perhaps why it took me until I was 23 to give it a go!

Just as expected, it was really difficult! I was determined on day 1 to at the very least get up on the board, and spent almost all of the 5 hour lesson trying, until finally I was there, standing almost upright, gliding along the waves, feeling all triumphant. For all of about 1.5 seconds before I was face first into the ocean.

I was meant to do three days in a row, but at 5 long hours each, it was a gruelling slog! By the end of it I’d had enough after 2 days, was able to report back I’d stood up a few times and got the basics, but very much of the opinion that the effort to reward ratio of surfing is seriously off. For all the time you spend bobbling in the ocean, battling your way out and getting slapped in the face repeatedly by the waves, when you finally get an acceptable one you really only get a good 10 seconds riding the wave before you have to do it all over again.

Perhaps, as the instructor lamented, the surf was crap when we were there, or as the other students lamented, the instructor was crap. I certainly wouldn’t mind giving it a go with some friends who knew what they were doing, where I could potter around in my own time and have some regular breaks, but I can definitely conclude that I’ve given it a go and surfing isn’t really for me!

336. Corralejo

IMG_5123 (640x480)As far as tourist places go, Corralejo, the main town on Fuerteventura, proved to be a dream destination. I say that based mainly on the fact we could get a room in a resort for the same price as a single bed in dorm of a hostel in most of Europe. There were also balmy beaches, a cute old town full of novel little bars and restaurants, and it was what I like to call “just the right amount of touristy.” There was enough infrastructure to support all the tourists (shops, bars, cafes, beach activities) but there weren’t enough people to actually cause annoyance. Win.

Highlights included finding a bar with mojito specials when the olympic closing ceremony was on, crazy cheap sales everywhere and coming across a music group doing some kind of Canarian drumming/percussion performance lead by a man who decided conducting was less important than dancing around having a grand old time!

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333. Climb a Volcano

IMG_4924 (640x480)Perhaps not strictly a first, I did climb Mt Ruapehu years ago, but we took a chair lift up halfway so I’m gonna call this particular volcano a first, based on the fact I climbed the whole thing. To be fair to Ruapehu though, this one was quite tiny and there was no pick axe required in getting to the top…

The highlight was an equal first between the little squirrels living camouflaged in the crater (which looked small but was actually massive) and the views of the rest of the island.

Fuerteventura is almost the definition of a desert island, apart from the fact that there is only sand on the beaches because it blows over from Africa! They import almost everything there, the only exception being goats cheese, the sole item produced locally. And yet produce is still really cheap, although much of the fruit/vegetables are found in the freezer section of the supermarket.

332. A world of different types of yoga

Given we were at a yoga retreat, it should be of no surprise that we got to discover a bunch of different types of yoga (as well as pilates, tai chi and zumba). It was educational, to say the least! Some classes were, in my opinion, better than others, though everyone has their own preferences. I have to say I’m much more a fan of the relaxing/stretching/exercising types than the meditation/yoga-as-a-religion types, but to each his own, right?

Here’s my run down of the different types we learned, and my personal impressions!

Hatha Yoga

This is my favourite, as it is where you stretch out all your sore muscles and then end with what I like to call “nap time” aka shavasana. There’s no better way to relax than lying down after stretching out every single muscle in your body! It wasn’t too strenuous either.

Vinayasa Flow Yoga

This one was more in the workout variety, and had some fairly difficult poses to hold. much more of a challenge!

Yoga Nidra

Also called sleeping yoga, this is more of a meditation type of yoga. It was basically just the nap time part, stretched out over a whole class. Not gonna lie, there was very little to complain about there! It would probably be a wise choice for anyone who has sleeping difficulties to try, as it is a really great way to ease yourself in to a very relaxed, deep sleep. I was not such a fan of the bit where we were meant to chant “ummmm” over and over, but that’s just me. As we were lying there, we were told to focus on some sort of goal or resolution we were really keen on achieving – supposedly it is often used to treat people with addictions e.g. quitting smoking, or eating disorders to stop them overeating. I definitely did wake up feeling quite motivated!

Kundalini Yoga

This was probably my least favourite class. It was all very focussed on spirits and chakras and all that jazz, which is all a bit far down the yoga spectrum for me I think. It was taught by this very angry German frau who was yelling at us to get into all these rather painful positions and do “the breath of fire” which is essentially hyperventilating. She was very intimidating. Then went round and gave us all lingering bra-less hugs at the end which was a bit awkward. Quite the contrast. Maybe I need to ease my way in to that kind of yoga, but as she was yelling at us that we should be feeling the spirits washing through our bodies all I could think was “of course I’m getting a bloody headrush, you are making me hyperventilate upside down! That’s a lack of oxygen to the brain, not a magical yoga spirit!” But you know, wouldn’t want to go ruining it for everyone else by voicing those thoughts outlod. Maybe I’m just not enough of a believer…

331. Azul Fit Yoga Retreat


At last, about 28 hours later than expected, we arrived in Fuerteventura and headed to the “Azul Fit” yoga retreat. It consists of a small villa about 30mins or so out of Corralejo, the main town on the island. We wound up there after we went in search of somewhere we could chill out by the beach, do some surf lessons and easily/cheaply fly there between leaving London and heading to Brussels for a music festival. Claire and I also happen to be growing yoga fans, so when we discovered this place we were quite excited!

It turned out to be just the most amazing and relaxing week I have ever had. Despite intermissions of rather gruelling surf lessons, mountain biking and volcano climbing, there was plenty of time for sunbathing by the pool and book reading. By the end of the week we had built up to doing about 3 hours of yoga and pilates per day, and coupled with the delicious, healthy organic food on offer I cannot recall a time in my life when I have felt healthier! It was just the recharge we needed after the dramas we had had, and a great escape from being in big cities. As Claire and I took up every opportunity to adventure around and do activities, we realised we most definitely were living up to the adventurous kiwi stereotypes! Travel is fun and I’ve loved seeing so many great places that I’ve heard so much about, but I definitely came to the realisation that my idea of a holiday involves as few people and as much nature as possible!

The staff there were also absolutely fantastic. They even let us stay an extra night for free because of our delayed flight which was really sweet and totally unnecessary. It was quite a small, intimate place, and we got on really well with all the girls there (it was all girls that particular week, and not many males in general, usually). The main chef, Jo, made the most amazing, delicious meals, all of which were vegetarian and easily gluten/dairy free. It was really inspirational in terms of creative items on the menu that were really tasty and left me feeling really great by the end of the week. She sent us some of her recipes from the week which I have since made with great success, and she now has a cookbook available which I will most definitely be purchasing once I’m done travelling around. It was a great reminder of the huge difference I feel when I cut out gluten and dairy especially…

I definitely couldn’t recommend the place any higher, it was such an awesome way to relax and unwind, particularly if yoga/surfing/mountain biking is your thing. And compared to its rivals in places like Bali, it was a really cheap offer. We actually mentioned that to the owners, but they were more concerned with being accessible to more people than pitching themselves to the Eat-Pray-Love crowd and charging through the roof. Oh and did I mention how lovely they were?IMG_5090 (480x640) IMG_5089 (480x640) IMG_5088 (480x640) IMG_5086 (640x480) IMG_5084 (480x640) IMG_5083 (640x480) IMG_5081 (640x480) IMG_5079 (640x480) IMG_5031 (640x480) IMG_4923 (640x480) IMG_4910 (640x480)