July 13: Surf in Arrifana & Kayak in Lagos

Tamara and I didn’t have to be in Lagos until 4:30 so we joined some of the other girls on the beach in the morning.

The boys at the house loaned me a board and Tamara, dear friend that she is, helped me carry my board allll the way down the winding path to the beach.

Ana’s friend, who was also a surfer, told me to follow her out into the line-up. There were a lot of people in the ocean and the waves were not the best. After a little while out in there, I decided to play around with catching white wash and then enjoyed the beach with the other girls.

Tamara and I rinse off, packed our stuff up at the house, and then headed to Lagos.

I love mini road trips with people. It’s a great way to get to know someone.

Tamara is so full of light and love. She was telling me about living in Paris as a translator for years and said,

“You know, I love Paris, but the people are always so…sad.”

I could not stop laughing.

It’s so true! I also love Paris and, let’s be real I also love a good sad day but, 24/7 existentialism can be rough.

Tamara told me about all her finances over the course of her life.

“You’ve have more than one fiancé?!” I said, in excited shock.

“Yes,” she laughed “I love to be in love.”

Tamara is amazing.

Ultimately, it was a good thing she didn’t marry the various fiancés. None of them were good enough for her in the long term or it turned out they wanted different things. I’m glad they were able to discover that before they got married. Now they’re beautiful memories and life lessons.

We reached Lagos and stopped by a grocery store to get some snacks for the kayak trip and then found our meeting place.

Tamara and I met our kayaking guide, Danny, who was a girl and of course, German.

Tamara had never kayaked before but I had faith in her.  

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Until we got in the water. We were so slow and the worst kayaking team everrrrr. But it was still a lot of fun. I brought my GoPro but I must not have cleared my sd card because the pictures were not great. Oh well. 

It was a gorgeous day and we kayaked through caves and around other rock formations. The ocean was clear and the perfect temperature for a swim.



We eventually got to a beach where we had our snack break…..along with every other kayaking tourist in Lagos.

The beach was packed.  

We had our snack, played with some puppies, attempted to snorkel (no fish to see), and explored a small cave.

As we were packing up, we noticed that people were leaving trash on the beach. Tamara and I started trying to take bits of the trash with us in our bags waterproof bags but we couldn’t fit everything.

“This is disgusting. I will never understand littering,” I said to Tamara.

“Exactly. I’m a smoker and I never leave cigarette butts on the beach. How can you claim to love the beach and nature and then leave trash all over it?”

Littering is disgusting. Climate change is real folks and even if it you don't believe in climate change, don't be a dick. Climbs down off soapbox.

We kayaked back through some other caves. It took Tamara and I another 20 minutes to reach the rest of the group back on the shore for the end of the trip. My shoulders were aching but it felt so gratifying when the kayak tour was finished.

We did it! We sucked, but we did it!


After kayaking, Tamara and I realized we had no place to stay in Lagos. We drove to another parking lot to look up potential hostels or hotels but found nothing with any kind of potential so….back to Arrifana!

We heard there was going to be music again, good music that is, and that we could stay with the same group of friends.

We got back to the house, showered, and instantly went to the pizza place.

Let’s see surfing, driving, kayaking, driving....pizza and wine please.

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After dinner, we went back to the house to see if one of the other girl (keeping her name confidential) wanted to come out with us. However, her boyfriend, who none of us like for the usual reasons, had disappeared and was treating her poorly. Tamara tried to convince her to come with us but she was too upset.

When we got to the little bar, we discovered that one musician was playing this enchanting fusion of Portuguese/Brazilian/Reggae. Also, Aicha was there! Tamara, Aicha, and I danced and talked about amazing girls and shitty boyfriends. Our friend who was sitting at home crying her eyes out was a fun, sweet, and stunning person. Her boyfriend was a jackass, mean to her, mean to everyone, and a lot older than her (not in the hot way).

Why does this shit happen all over the world?

Realistically, I know this is rooted in self-esteem and self-worth but it doesn’t make it any easier when you see a friend hurting. I know that this can go across all gender identity/sexuality  spectrum, but I’ve seen it so much with women and men.

Tamara agreed, she didn’t get it either.

We talked about moments when we were in the emotion place that our friend currently was,

“I don’t like who I am when I’m heartbroken,” I told Tamara.

“Neither do I,” she said.

We danced all night.

July 12: Praia Arrifana

The next beautiful morning, I visited Carrapeteira’s little museum of land and sea while I waited for Tamara and Maristela to get ready. This little museum was so sweet. It focused on the life and history of fishermen and farmers of the area.

When everyone was ready, we drove to Praia Arrifana and the three of us hung out on the beach for a while.















It was a loooonnggg winding walk down to the beach though.

I was also excited to go to Arrifana because Julika had told me this was a great place to surf.

But when I went to rent a board at the only surf shack that existed the attendant told me….

 “We’re out.”

What?....You’re a surf shack and you’re out of boards?

“Yep.”

Well, when will you have boards again?

“In 3 hours.”

"WHAT?! But the waves are good now."

The dude did not care.

Oh well, I guess it’s just a beach bum day.

The girls and I talked about everything: travel, dating, food, work life balance, bodies, experiences, goals.

It was great to lounge on the beach after surfing and hiking the day before.

After beach-time we went searching for lunch. We were not successful. Everything was closed and we ended up with a slightly over priced greasy meal.

Live and learn.

We drove back to Carrapateira and, may have had to pull over on the side of the road to pee before we got back to the hostel. I took a shower and then said goodbye to Maristela.

Tamara and I were spending the night with her friends in Arrifana and then going kayaking in Lagos in the afternoon.

(Oh! I forgot to tell you. The day before in the little town square, I bumped into the American couple who I met in Baleal and they mentioned this great place to go kayaking in Lagos. Tamara said she’d go with me.)

After we got back to Arrifana, we met Tamara’s friends and dropped off our stuff at the house. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive at first, but once we got settled it was fine.

Here’s the thing about the town of Arrifana…there isn’t one.

Well, that is to say, it’s a bunch of houses and buildings all spread out with no square or center. But you can tell that these wonderful little restaurants and businesses that are starting to pop up mean that energy is coming.

Tamara and I went to this cafe that friends of friends of friends had just opened. We briefly left to watch the sunset and then we got drinks and listened to some live music and dancing. That set was amazing and unfortunately after that we went to another bar with another band…and that band was pretty awful.

Let’s all pretend like the second one didn’t happen.

July 11: The Amazing Day Continues -- Post Surf Hike

After lunch, a few of us went back to the car and then Kaitlin and I got ready for our hike.

Kaitlin told me that according to her hike research the path was completely flat. Based on this information, I didn’t think it was going to be a difficult trip so I threw on a sundress over my bikini and grabbed some comfy flip-flops.

“That’s what you’re wearing?”

Kaitlin asked me, with a slightly perplexed tone that was devoid of judgement.

“Well you said that path was flat right?”

“Right,” she responded.

“Okay, let’s go!”

I drove us to the start location which involved turning off the road, down a long dirt path and then leaving the car in the middle of the field.

Kaitlin and I had that typical America conversation that involved volleying back and forth between whether it was okay to leave a rental car, in the middle of a field, in a country province in Portugal. We ultimately decided that the car would be fine and that other people had done this based on previous car tracks.

Kaitlin was our navigator so we took the right track of the wide fork in the road. Fifteen minutes in, we had to turn around but it was worth it so see where the other trail was leading. We talked about Seattle and professors we both shared even though we were four years apart at UW.

As we started to climb a steep hill, I realized something.

Kaitlin had lied to me.

“You said it was flat!”

I bellowed at her.

“That’s what the app said!”

She replied.

“Well obviously, the app is crap!”
 

We were laughing and walking up these completely dry hills with dead grass and few flowers, searching for the sea, as this was also promised by the app. We had also promised each other that if we finished the hike and didn’t quit that we could have cake. In between our hiking struggles when we came across another hill or it was getting too hot one of us would yell to the other one…

“CAAAAAAKEEE!!!!”

Soon we started to be able to hear the ocean. It only made us work harder. We couldn’t see it but we knew it was there.

Finally, wwwwhooooossssh!

Our eyes were no longer hit with the hue of the dry, brown dirt but of the blue, deep ocean blue.

“Hey Big Blue,” I thought as we peered over the cliffs together.


Our conversation had moved from Seattle to our friends and families. Kaitlin’s Grandmother was Japanese and was a survivor of the internment camps that the U.S. implemented during World War II. We forget (since it may or may not be taught in our high school curriculum) that the American government did horrible things to Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants. Kaitlin and I shared more stories about this and I told her about my friend Shiggy who wrote this beautiful piece about his Grandmother’s experiences in the internment camps. (You can read it here & more on Shiggy's Grandmother, Sarah, Here)

It just proves to me that our histories are often contradictory. America was supposedly fighting for the freedom of Jews, Romani, and many others in Europe while we were interning Japanese Americans and immigrants at home. We often hide this history and spin stories of America being the greatest country. When the truth is, like every country and nation, we have done some wonderful and awful things. But we need to face those atrocities so we may acknowledge, heal, make reparations, and move forward. We need to stand up for the freedom of those who are discriminated against today as we witness these cycles of our world.


As Kaitlin and I walked the hiking path along the cliffs we realized that was probably some way to get down to the beach. Eventually, we found another dirt path with a little rope where we could climb down and vio-la!

We discovered these black slate rock formations along the coast and then stumbled into red rock caves. We did some basic bouldering, Kaitlin rock climbs often. I was running in and out of the ocean and everything was just so incredibly beautiful.

I could feel all that natural energy lighting up my soul. 

Then it hit me, why are we so mean to our bodies? Look at all the amazing things bodies can do. Look at all the amazing things nature can do.

It was dawning on me, in that moment, bouldering on the beach in my bikini, running in the ocean, exploring with a new friend, that my entire self-worth did not depend upon how flat my belly was.

Of course, this is something we know intellectually but to actually feel it and believe it is quite another issue.

When we finished walking along the beach we realized we were definitely, off the beaten track of the app but I noticed that we had stumbled onto Bordeira Beach. We just had to cross the sand dunes, walk through the wetland marsh, down the dirt path to the road, and then follow the street back to the car.

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As we were walking through the sand dunes, I saw sand lilies, seashells and all kinds of nature that I had never seen. It felt like we were on another planet with all the different kinds of terrain that we’d experienced in the past couple of hours.

Traipsing through the dunes was giving us a work out and we started to bellow again,

“CAAAKKKEEE!!!!!”

After we carefully waded through the marsh with tadpole babies and walked allllll the way down the straight street back to the main street, we just had to make it back to the car.

Soon, we heard this angelic sound. Multiple variations of light bells and then we saw, a shepherd with his flock of cows. The sound of the movement of the cow bells almost put me in a meditative trance.

We did reach the car, got back to our hostel, and ATE.

Considering we burned 2000 calories, pizza and cake were on the dinner menu.

But it was amazing how much energy I felt like I HAD. Surfing in the morning followed by an almost 3 hours hike made me feel awesome!

I wasn't exhausted or overwhelmed, I was...happy...and hardcore vibing on nature's energy.

I met Kaitlin’s friend, Justin, who she was traveling with and we all ate together. Justin was from Kentucky, also a teacher in Thailand, and sounded exactly like Matthew McConaughey

The three of us had dinner and then watched Little Miss Sunshine at the hostel.

As I fell asleep that night, I watched the moon rise from my bottom bunk and quietly thanked her, for everything.

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July 11: Girls to the Surf Front!

July 11: Girls to the Surf Front!

I woke up early with Aicha to meet Caitlin in the lobby. Aicha, was one of my dorm mates and a waitress at the pizzeria. She was also a surfer so we added her to the crew.

Tamara was trying to wake up Maristela and eventually, we all made it to my car. We had to get creative in order to figure out how to fit five girls plus a surfboard inside my rental car but, we figured it out after a little bit of struggling. 

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July 10: Serendipitous Surfer Girls

July 10: Serendipitous Surfer Girls

I woke up on July 10th and slowly made my way up to the kitchen in the hostel. For a short while, I was the only person in the space and gazed out the small window to the rooftops of tiny seaside town of Carrapateria.

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July 9: Moon Paths to Carrapateira

July 9: Moon Paths to Carrapateira

The house was empty in the morning.

I had the whole hostel to myself. There was a market in the little square next to us so I grabbed some fresh veggies, eggs, and herbs went back to the little hostel.

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July 8: Finding My Center in Vila Nova de Milfontes

July 8: Finding My Center in Vila Nova de Milfontes

Vila Nova de Milfontes is about two and a half hours southwest of Ericeira. The drive was smooth and calm, no traffic at all.

I didn’t plan on staying there long. A friend told me about a secret beach there that I had to check out but first I had to find a place to stay.

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July 8: Ericeira - The Ocean Surfed Me

July 8: Ericeira - The Ocean Surfed Me

Martha had to leave early in the morning for a wedding. I drove to Ribeira D’ilhas Beach to meet Chico and the other students for the surf lesson.

The grey sky loomed over me as I pulled off the main road and into the beach lot.

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July 7: Wandering

July 7: Wandering

I arrived back at the ocean early in the morning. The parking lot was empty except for a few van life souls.

I sat on the concrete bench again and wrote in my journal for a while.

Listening to the ocean and watching the waves.

Hey Big Blue

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