Travel Features

My View from the Lip: Six Months of Surf and Self-reflection on the Nicaraguan Pacific 1

Note: this is an unusually long post, as it covers a six-month period in one place. And, while this post focuses on our surfing experience, it runs simultaneously with the more general piece about our lives as hotel managers at Buena Vista Surf Club during the same period. Back in my teens my best friend Nick was a surfer. I would accompany him on yearly trips to Cornwall, in the southwest corner of England, seven hours’ drive from our homes in Essex. We would wade into the North Atlantic, in the springtime when the water was still cold from the winter months. From there we gazed over the choppy, grey water that stretched all the way to North America. When I first saw the Pacific a few years later, the horizon looked the same, but knowing that the Pacific Ocean was even wider than the Atlantic somehow made it more astounding. I tried to imagine […]

The Dirty Secret About Paradise: It’s Boring

I’m specifically talking about the postcard idea of “paradise” here, something like white, palm-fringed sand under empty blue skies, or a palatial suite at a five-star boutique hotel. Whatever it looks like to you, the trouble with “paradise”, besides not existing in the first place, is that we get used to it. We get used to everything, it’s human to do so. It’s an evolutionary survival trait that we are all better-off for having. But it also brings this side-effect of causing bliss to decay, inevitably and rapidly. In what is curiously entitled the Hedonic Treadmill, the science shows us that people tend to normalise to the same level of happiness throughout their whole lives. This normalisation occurs even after extreme events. People who have had large lottery winnings at one end of the spectrum, and those who have lost their limbs or close relatives at the other, all get back to their old […]

My Favourite Animal Encounters From Around the Globe

Here’s a trivial and subjective list of some of the encounters I’ve had with wild animals that have, for widely different reasons, stayed in a special place in my memory. They’re in no meaningful order. Albatrosses, Otago Peninsula New Zealand (2010) From within a whirling, squawking cloud of seagulls, we saw a strangely captivating bird soar past. An albatross isn’t far off being just a big gull, yet somehow they have far more grace and beauty. It was a real surprise and it was breathtaking to watch. See more pics in my Flickr album, Otago and the East Coast. Whale Shark, Yucatán Peninsula, México (2015) It was a relatively small one, a female about 8-9m in length, and we were surrounded by boatloads of tourists, each queuing for the next turn in the water. But to swim alongside her, watching her languid movement, all the distraction disappeared and for a brief time we […]