CostaricaDSW_StoriesEatineraries

Santa Teresa VS Playa Hermosa de Cobano, Costa Rica

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Before the competition starts, an introduction is needed:

What kind of traveler are you?

If you visited the Peninsula of Nicoya in Costa Rica, you are probably not a skyscraper lover and the urban streetwear is not your kind of thing.

So far so easy: start by banning also museums, cinemas, malls, and closed-in shoes.

Santa Teresa, such as Playa Hermosa are slow places, but in a good way. At sunset, everybody gathers on the beach to contemplate the sun burning and brightening every detail, while sipping a beer chatting about life.

If sunset in Santa Teresa is the main event, We can easily realize We are not in Ibiza!

Here there are Clubs, the tourists moving is noisy, parties are always planned but the real beauty is undoubtedly visible only at sunlight or until dusk.

Sunset in Santa Teresa

Said that, next question: Do you want to immerse yourself in the jungle without giving up to happy hours, shops, streets crowded by cars and groups of people dressed in bikini and shorts?

Then, Santa Teresa is the answer. It is the perfect mix between:

-Tropical-chic inconvenience: If it rains too much light can go out. If light goes out, water also can do it. That means, if light and water go out, no shower or wi-fi.

– Long beaches, enormously full of palm trees, where you can go horseback riding.

– Surf schools, yoga classes and massages galore.

P.S. If you don’t love sports, above all surf, change destination.

P.P.S. If you are looking for a surfboards rental shop or you even want to buy a tailored-made one, the right place is Denga Surf Shop.

-Shops and supermarkets are basic or one branded but numerous.

-You can stumble on VIP such as Matt Damon or Gisele sitting next to your table at the restaurant or laying on the beach.

-There is a significant population density since this place is in the middle of nowhere, especially during the, so called , dry season, roughly from December to March.

Hidden frog down the table

In the remaining months, there is the, well known, Humid Green Season. In this period, rains dramatically increase but, at the same time, you can benefit from a series of advantages such as:
– a less crowded place

– an extraordinary and blooming nature

– no dust

– affordable prices

Don’t imagine Costa Rica as a country in the Central America at low prices. Maybe it was like this a decade ago . Not now!
Grocery shopping is expensive, to rent a car is way more expensive, attending an hour yoga class could result out of budget. Don’t stop yourself at the first choice, ask, be informed and negotiate.

There are tons of hotels, holiday houses, hostels and also luxury villas. Finding an accommodation is an easy job because on any budget you will find the best solution for you.

But remember! Costa Rica is a Country in the world that, compared to its extension in 2 Km has the most biodiversity density. That doesn’t only mean spiteful monkeys, colorful parrots, and wonderful butterflies.

If there’s a lack of obsessive cleaning, biodiversity means also insects squeezing everywhere, inside beds, too.

Said that, before booking your accommodation, ask for extremely detailed pictures of the bathroom and kitchen, unless you are an animal lover, any-kind-of-animal lover!  And don’t forget to pack your luggage with mosquito repellent, especially during rainy seasons. You will need it.

It is said that everyone, sooner or later, catches the traveler’s gastrointestinal infection that I personally proudly caught and had for 15 long days. From that moment on, my psychotic effort is to constantly clean my hands and to eat only cooked fruit and vegetables, unless I’m the only one who handles them (carefully washing them) or at least If I’m in a qualified restaurant.

There are a few places that gained my trust, the only places where I let myself go a little bit. I really like baked chicken from Chicken Joe or the Ceviche from Los Characolas.

  • Los Caracolas faces straight on Mal Pais beach, so you have to reach it by foot or on four wheels if you rent a Quad. It is a medium-level restaurant but safe, and the place is fascinating. I adore the table spreading all over the garden that faces the ocean. The intimate atmosphere an the feeling that time slows down until almost freezing when you are there.

“Chop it” Burger’s

We go straight to the point: both places include wi-fi connection.

  • At Chop It in Playa Carmen you can enjoy a good salad without being afraid to catch an intestinal distress. Also burgers are great!
  • At OtroLado https://otroladolodge.com/en/ You can taste an excellent plate of pasta, because the owners are Italian. Other than good kitchen, if you’re looking for a room to stay in Santa Teresa this is one of the places I would like to highly recommend you. Cleans bedrooms, nice and quiet place even though it is situated on the main street of Santa Teresa. It’s one of those places where we know that there will always be a friend to have a chat with. An amazing sensation.
  • If you instead are craving for pizza “Amici” is the right place to eat it. Here, you can also taste great Italian kitchen.

Other than OtroLado, where to sleep?

I forgot to do an introduction: the main aspects that I considered in order to write this short guide is the human factor. All the places I recommend you are managed by nice, friendly and helpful people. Sure, problems can always happen anyway, but here you have to deal with people with good faith that are going to do their best to make your stay even more comfortable and peaceful. Also, all the people I mention are friends with each other and I say this to show you that there is no rivalry or competition between them.
We have met them as passing through passengers and it really took a very short while to be in harmony with them. Thanks to these people, Santa Teresa became something more than a tourist destination. Going back to Costa Rica means to hugh a lot of friends again.

A few steps away from OtroLado, Hermosa direction, there is the so called “Principe del Pacifico”. Christian, The owner, is a person that you cannot avoid to meet! Describing him with a lot of words would be unuseful and reducing. Christian/Paglia, is one of its kind and it’s impossible not to love him and thanks to him he’s going to make you love the place even with its lacks. If you are very lucky, you could convince him to cook for you. Even if we went to Santa Teresa a lot of times, we never had this chance, but the legend tells that he can cook an amazing pizza!

We were forgetting about the main topic of this article: Santa Teresa or Playa Hermosa?

Playa Hermosa in low tide

Now that you have an idea on how Santa Teresa is, remove the chaos, the traffic, invasive smells and small bars and clubs. The result will be Playa Hermosa. I may be biased and don’t  forget that who is now speaking maybe in a few years is going to retire in a refugee along the world’s boundaries.

Hermosa is in my heart: when I crossed that amazing garden that bring to the place I like to call home -Batik Costa Rica- I enjoy every perfume, every sound and I always get emotional. The feeling of joy and fulfillment that I experienced there in those moments, is going to accompany me until the end and I will always have a beatitude smile on my face.

Thank you Christina and Dante, you are the best guests that we could wish for, you are fun, tender and helpful.
Perfect dinners
 
Even along the beach the atmosphere is more intimate than in Santa Teresa. You can walk around a lot and you’re going to meet just few person now and then. The living space of your beach towel is going to reach unthinkable levels. In the short way in the jungle that brings you to the ocean, especially in the early afternoon, you can stumble into groups of monkeys that eats and stare at you with curiosity.

Be aware of Cara Blanca and stay at a security distance: they are very despicable and if that day is not their day, they can throw some coconuts at you.
By now our stays at Hermosa are made up of the same and wonderful habits.

My husband can surf at any time leaving the house already barefoot and with his surfboard under his armpit. I can enjoy a nature, tranquility, long long walks and wonderful silence. Well I have to admit that Hermosa is a more radical choice rather than Santa Teresa. If you are not going around by car the only way to grocery shop is the far west like shop, where to find fresh vegetables you have to arrive there before 8 AM and the choice is limited to four avocados, pineapples, tomatoes and few potatoes. If you want to have a decent meal out the only way is to go to Couleur Cafe where salads are great. This place opens only at breakfast or lunch and rearly at dinner (it depends on the season).

When we are at Batik, I personally cook.
Breakfast Time!

By now, we have the same local habits:
– to order from the fisherman our weekly fish supply
– to buy biological fruit and vegetables from Green World
– Going to Super Ronny, the supermarket, to buy our usual dose of glutamate and colorants, otherwise we would eat too much healthy!

 

Eatineraries

Second Leg: Vancouver, Canada

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After an eleven hour flight from Frankfurt to Vancouver, where my sweet significant other will open his eyes and say that it was give or take ten hours…..I leave comments to posterity but permit myself a touch of drama…

Bear in mind that he had travelled the whole way comfortably seated next to a laid back Italian and a movie addicted Canadian, with what is more 2 meters of leg room in order to travel in style…whilst I was sitting next to someone who reminded me of the  Little Match Girl….weighing in at 100kgs…

But, getting back to us, the travelling hours apart, I can guarantee that the stress level was high if you consider a trip that had seen me go half-way around the world, against the wind and with the Little Match Girl breathing down my back…

Fortunately, my morale was still high…’cause I consider the good moments, right?

To begin with we were travelling light since Air Canada was still taking care of our luggage…although we did give in to a wee bit of a shopping spree mainly to avoid the boredom of a six hour transit layover…

Wild shopping it was…with oven mitts ‘Made in Canada’…fridge magnets ‘Made in Vancouver’, coffee mug ‘made God knows where’…(but oh so pretty..) for my mother in law…..needing over eight hours to buy and leaving us still with over five hours to wait before our next flight.

We had been away from home well, over twenty hours and to while away the time we also played cards, and my man was not fair, then or at any time when we played cards during the entire holiday.

Greenland Cliffs

Is something missing in the tale, you think? Haven’t you yet wondered what we were going to do once we got to California?

We had a few ideas in truth, but we had  not yet had our fill of unexpected scenarios, so were waiting to get to our next mid-destination to buy the tickets for what was supposed to be our last and final one…

Just in case shops were out of oven mitts, magnets et al.

On the other hand, and as you have by now correctly surmised, planning ahead is our daily bread…and what is more the card games were so exciting as to make us forget that at the end of the day we would have been only 4800 Ks from our goal.

 

Storie DSW

First Leg: Frankfurt, Deutschland

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Need I recap the previous episodes? If you are in doubt……please go back to the start and read: This is where the adventure begins. Costa Rica.

We left off at the embarkation point to the tune of unexpected twists.

Finally  holding our boarding cards we made our way towards our gate after clearing security.

After a relatively comfortable flight, with ‘compulsory’ separate seating we reached Frankfurt.

A brief stop to buy some pretzels, to calm my noisy stomach and what was supposed to be a laid back three hour wait turns into a spasmodic search for the quickest ( and cheapest of course)…way to get to Costa Rica ….

We decide to fall back on those at home…my sister first for a number of possibilities from San Josè to San Josè ( talk about getting confused..)..and then an old school friend of mine, now tour operator and proprietor of a travel agency…whose first question is: ‘am I supposed to be looking for a flight from San Josè California to San Josè Puerto Rico??’

Help, no….a hop to Puerto Rico we can do without!!!!!!

Unforgetable pretzel session

Cleared up the misunderstanding she actually comes up with a valid solution, especially from an economical point of view and suggests an AA flight San Josè (guess which one…? If you answered Bolivia go to jail) to San Josè.

So, are you paying attention? Let’s see…:

Am I talking San Josè…???

California

Costa Rica

Bolivia

Puerto Rico

Nitty-gritty-wise, we are $250.00  out of pocket but on our way with an extra 8 hours of travelling to address……

IN FLIGHT TOWARDS VANCOUVER

Between one (in)decision and another, a few calculations made on my calculator, a stop off at the loo and a new embarkation, we find ourselves on the way to Vancouver, with no decisions yet reached.

Life, though, is beautiful because so variable….and in any case let’s get as far away from Europe as we can so as not to make life too easy…then we’ll decide on what to do.

Obviously, my seat is right between two  fifty-year old Russian friends who have taken an aisle and window seats respectively and are snoring away contentedly…..

It might have also been the decision of one of the two to get away from her ‘bronchitis-bound’ friend who was coughing every five minutes ( believe me, I had eleven hours to time her perfectly…).

And there I was……me in-between…..a talking, snoring, sleeping, coughing person with whom to share germs..

To be continued…next stop Vancouver

DSW_StoriesMentawai

Mentawai, going back home

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Our vacation at Bangor Bangor was going to an end. I avoid all the details of our way back trip but you just need to read “Under the Sun of Mentaway Indonesia- The Trip
More or less everything happened in the same way:
-little boat
-pit stop in Siberut
-Ferry
-A night in Padang/Jakarta
-Flight Padang/Jakarta
-Flight Jakarta/Dubai
-Short pit stop
-Flight Dubai/Rome
-Fiumicino/Homw

But few details really need to be told!

Four hours pit stop in Siberut

Arms and baggage in tow, we were saying goodbye to Beng-Beng with an happy group photo and we were approaching to the first transfer.
Introduction: apart from nights spent in Jakarta and Padang, and the stay at Nyang-Nyang, I have never been to Indonesia. My knowledge and thoughts on this wide country were like it was rustic but cleaned and occidentally sweetened.
In Siberut I saw a realistic corner of Indonesia, or maybe only the other side of the coin: nothing violent or scary or destabilizing. Only respectable poverty.
A country full of mud, unlikely shops, women wearing veils, intrusive smells.

Part of the group stopped to lunch in a trusted place. Calm, no gastrointestinal virus to bring back home as souvenir. I refused the invitation both to dedicate myself to the first real excursion of the trip and yet because to trust is good but if you don’t trust is better (as and italian proverb says). The restaurant windows were not very attractive to my papillas, I must say. With my great joy Emanuele decided to join me. What an honor! Wow!
We had in our pockets the last local coins that we spent for two Mars-kind-of ice creams that we found out to be on vogue here.
There were chicken everywhere, blind, and non cats and unsteady kitty cats. There were madams that were looking at us with diffidence and curiosity even though they must see a lot of tourists everyday. There were gardens so tidied and well kept that almost clashed and motorbikes, a lot of motorbikes.
There were children, a lot of children. You could see in their eyes that they don’t desire anything that what they already have. The “here, now and forever” that only children can feel. They go beyond of broken shoes and crumbling houses, they focus on the moment. A consciousness both fascinating yet temporary, we too soon forget the infinite.
Goodbye Siberut, thank you!

Filippo’s wild nights in Padang!

We arrive at Padang Hotel Mercure after ferry, taxi etc. Finally a bathroom all for myself:happyness!

We were all set for the generous fish-based dinner at Samudera Java restaurant that was recommended by our friends of Beng-Beng. I have to admit that as an italian that tries , in vain, to shake off the genetic snobbery, I expected this place , since it was described as the best restaurant in Padang, an elegant Indonesian place with flowers, velvet atmosphere and sinuous waitresses dressed in long dresses.

Wrong!
Also Filippo had the same thought as mine, that’s why he put on his best blouse, very we’ll kept even after 15 days in the luggage. I was dressed, at the same time, with a sheath dress, obviously creased after 15 days in the luggage.
Filippo, you must confess, do you fold the clothes yourself?
I hear his voice saying: you can’t buy class babe!
Well, he is right!
Emanuele was faithful to his surfer look after apocalypse. He was kind of: I’m cool inside, now judge me on the outfit!
When we arrived we run after the taxi driver just to make sure that he was right on the address.

There was a traditional restaurant and the name was correct. The name “Best Restaurant of Padang” was probably referring to the food not on the elegance, for sure.
Surfer T-shirt versus black dress and blouse wins for 2-0.
Above appearance, the food was excellent: plenty of fish. It was fresh, tasty, abundant and cheap. An experience to replicate but this time in shorts and thongs! For who likes this kind of food I really suggest to go for crab! I didn’t try it but the way Emanuele and Filippo were sharing it was enough to understand it was delicious.
Satisfied and happy we were returning to our hotel. It was nine o’clock and I was already sleepy but i didn’t want to be the “old” of the group so I agreed to stop at the hotel bar that was animated by a live local group!
After 15 days of forced #healthylife, something alcohol made was on point, I have to admit it.
At 21.25 I was so tired that i left the two at the bar enjoying the music to go and enjoy the comfort of the mattress of the Mercure Hotel. The too much relaxed life of Beng-Beng has almost reset my social life will .
Me jealous? My sleepiness gets the better of any other instinct.. and then there is the mutual trust in our relationship, but that is secondary.
While I was in my REM phase I felt someone under the sheets.. Manu, is it you?
Otherwise if you’re a killer please act fast: two weeks of vacation exhausted me and if seeing fear in your victim’s eyes excites you you chose the wrong room. I give up but don’t take me out of this bed, please.
It was Emanuele that wanted to bring me back to consciousness to chat under the sheets, but he was going to fail. I can’t remember anything except the fact that Filippo was still at the bar , where had conquered one of the guitars of the pop band and he was performing in an anglo-roman show. Filippo, all the way!

 

DSW_StoriesMentawai

What to do in Nyang-Nyang, Mentawai

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If you bear in mind that the Mentawais are a surfer’s paradise, what alternatives are thee if you do not ride the waves? Obviously, anything that deals with the ocean, like  snorkeling, swimming, fishing, boat excursions.

For a tourist hunting for emotions our tiny island did not have much to offer, apart from its notorious waves and the question nagging me and begging for an answer was: How many persons apart from castaways, would choose a remote island famous only for its waves?

Which brought to the fore an even more important question: How many tourists who do not enjoy snorkeling, swimming and fishing landed of their own free will on Nyang-Nyang?

Let me raise my hand, or both, extending my arms in sign of joy and celebration, my Mexican wave in honour of having, perhaps, set a record.

As brief premise to the story of my holiday as an outsider to the Beng-Beng Surf Camp, I wish to clarify that life in a non-luxury standard surf camp is spartan and collective…

Everyone wakes up at the same time, queues together to use the facilities, eat all together and all together go in search of the best waves.

I am not by choice a person that easily shares life with persons she has only just become acquainted to, I love my comforts and I do not practice any aquatic sports. Anything else?!

My reading spot just a walk away from the surfcamp

LET’S FIND OUT A TYPICAL BENG-BENG MORNING.

Large breakfast, excited chatter, stretching and related exercises, paraffin, sun tan lotion, selection of the ‘right’ spot and daily doubt: which board to use.

In the middle of this frantic activity, a sudden silence falls over the surfers, all eyes turn towards a sole target and the ritual question is asked: Vivi, what will you do today?

Questioning smiles on the faces of handsome guys seek a sign on my face, in the vain hope that the answer will involve even a minimum of sports activities.

At times like these I wish I was gifted with the art of improvisation, that I could answer point-blank with the description of a series of athletic activities that would leave my questioners speechless on this beautiful, sunny day. But no, only an initial embarrassed silence, a sort of stage fright that sees me tight as a clam, until I suddenly remember to wave my faithful book, which I always keep in my right hand. I knowingly glance at my beach-towel popping up from my bag as hints of my daily lazy activities, whilst I think to myself that you need a special talent to land in Paradise only to read a 6000 page volume in 10 days!

On the third day I reached a decision. I would avoid the Beng-Beng audience and their embarrassing questions, by turning up later than the rest of the clan did for their daily pre-surfing activities.

When all the surf chatter has died down and I am certain that the boat was moving away from the shore, I make my move and surreptitiously reach the beach only to discover someone that appears with a knowing smile and bombards me with the ritual question…

Silence, embarrassed cough followed by a triumphant smile. I’ve found the answer.

Today I start on a new book. Thrilling emotions await me, since it’s a thriller!

This apparently depressing morning scenario over, allow me to argue in my favor,  by saying that first of all, as a city dweller getting away from the daily chaos to enjoy some healthy, relaxing nothing doing is exactly what I ask of a holiday!

When Italy was hit by the first cold wave and rain, and the metropolitan stress was reaching record levels… I was walking barefoot on a marvelous, deserted beach with nothing to do other than lazily select the best spot in which to bask in the sun and dive in the warm, crystal clear water of the sea.

And I am not totally devoid of any interest in aquatic sports because I snorkel and, on occasion, even fish! My crucible, so to say is not where I am or what to do, but in my modest opinion, having to do without a loved one with whom to share all this.

It’s a pity in fact that Emanuele, always faithfully by my side in the everyday events of day to day life, when on holidays tends to adopt his typical, marvelous routine:

  • Wake up at dawn
  • Accurate, in-depth analysis of the weather conditions in our room
  • Stockpiling of caloric food
  • Accurate, in-depth analysis of the weather conditions with his friends
  • Surfing
  • Lunch, sharing comments on the surfing activity of the morning with his friends
  • Siesta
  • Surfing
  • Dinner, with a recap of the surfing activities of the day with his friends
  • Early night, preceded by an…accurate analysis of the weather forecast for the following day
  • Sleep…!!!

..somewhere in the outer reef!

I don’t give up easily and whilst I am totally in love with every calorie I add to my body, I love to walk for hours, on my own, up and down hills, under the sun, alone, with someone, alone.

On the ferry as we made our way to the island we met a group of French trekkers and my spirits rose at the idea that our island, too, could hide interesting circuits to discover, perhaps in good company.

My husband immediately curbed my enthusiasm informing me that the trekkers were going to a different place from ours, and that our destination wasn’t exactly famous for trekking.

Don’t worry, though, dear – he added – you can walk along deserted beaches

…the awesome coconut doesn’t fall far from the awesome conconut palm tree!

Actually, a whole six minutes of walking, from our room to the furthest point on the island, on my own, without having to calculate the tides, cross streams, risk getting lost amongst the palm trees.

Did I say palm trees? Of course I am aware of the danger that falling coconuts represent, especially if you are a six hour ferry ride from the closest medical assistance.

But let’s go back to trekking: local legends want that there are still some parts of the island that have not yet been fully explored. These hidden paths are reserved solely to the natives as if to say: yes, walk around in freedom, but watch your step!

I don’t mean to say by this that the natives are dangerous or lacking in hospitality, since never in my life did I feel safer than on Nyang-Nyang….but you know, I didn’t fell so comfortable to explore the island all alone.

OK, it’s time to stop portraying myself as the designated victim! After a week on the island, Emanuele and his inseparable friend Filippo decided to forego the afternoon surfing sessions.

A sudden wish to keep me company? Wrong!

Let’s get real and say that the waves were no longer as good as they had been and, if you can keep a secret and just between you and me: the two young sportsmen were fatigued after their intense first week spent riding waves.
 
So, what happens in the afternoon when you are free from surfing activities?

Allow me to say, before I continue, that surfers without surfing, tend to be incurably lazy.

Lazy Afternoon at Beng Beng!

So, to do something different, they enjoyed post-prandial siestas, hammock sessions, never-ending comments about all the surf sessions of the previous days, accurate analysis of the meteorological conditions of the days to come, soon aborted attempts at walks along the beach.

In short, total boredom!

In three short hours they reached the climax of boredom practicing activities that I had mastered to an art in over a week. The only difference being that I refrained from talking surf and never took a siesta.

So, what to do? I had a brilliant idea! There’s a shop on the island. Let’s go shopping!

Like dwarves following Snow White, we set off to walk through the jungle in Indian file and finally reached a series of wooden huts with one that stood out, although for reasons I could not totally grasp, that we identified as the only commercial activity on the island.

We entered on tip-toe and discovered that the goods on offer consisted of ten packs of Oreo, an assortment of canned noodle soups and various chocolate-based snacks.

I had forgotten to mention that accommodation on the Mentawai Islands is on a full board basis and that therefore no restaurants or shops exist on the island, therefore it was unfair to expect a huge assortment of foodstuffs.

Everyday, our expectations for lunch and dinner were quite high; we felt a bit like school children on their way home, wondering what goodies mum had cooked for lunch. Especially if, like myself, your mum was an over the top good cook, who only ever disappointed me when she prepared rice in a light broth, which left me down in the mouth and hungry!

All this to say, to the Beng-Beng kitchen staff, especially now that I am writing from Italy, that your fettuccine al ragù – home made egg pasta with a meat and tomato sauce – was comparable to my mother’s rice in broth: absolutely inacceptable!

Ragù at the Mentawai? No, nein, rien a faire, kaput, verboten!!!

And to think that the Italian owned camp had well trained local staff, when it came to cooking a memorable roast chicken and potatos and, allow me to add as a suggestion: more seafood and less fettuccine!

With love, your lazy, gourmand customer XXX J

 

DSW_StoriesMentawai

A trip to Mentawai Indonesia

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Do you remember Agatha Christie’s Evil under the Sun?

If you never got around to reading the book, you’ll certainly have stumbled on the film, perhaps on a Monday evening in August, somewhere, on the broadcasting system.

Well, in any case to make a long story short, let me point out the salient moments and you can add your own healthy imagination to complete the scenario.

An island, isolated, the sun beating down, almost uninhabited with a smattering of tourists all accommodated in the only available hotel, nautical miles away from the rest of the world!

Holidaymakers who do not know each other at first, arriving from worlds miles apart, speaking languages even further so who end up for sharing for some weeks meals, chats, toilets, intimacy and secrets!

Obviously, in such a scenario you always have

– Good looking guys, real sportsmen with the tan that goes with the role

– A couple of femmes fatales who go out of their way to maintain about them an aura of mystery

– Old age pensioners who listen in to any and all conversations and never seem to mind their own business

– The hotelier, of course who weave their way through an impossible request and a possibly undeserved compliant.

Right, please bear these opening words in mind as you read on and we come to us.

 

Do you know where the Mentawais are?

OK, let me keep it simple.

Do you know where Italy is?

Right, the Mentawais are three days travel from Italy and more precisely in Indonesia.

But if you think that Indonesia is far away, then believe me: the Mentawais are beyond remote.

You already know that we don’t love comfortable trips, that for us a trip that involves only one flight is like catching a local bus

(if you live in Rome, sometimes catching a plane is less involved than using public transportation. But I am not her to moan about Italian transportation, am I?)

 

So, let’s get back to comfortable travelling and briefly sum up our trip from Rome, to the island of Nyang-Nyang.

 

FIRST LEG – Roma/Dubai

Well, guess what? For once, we travelled in comfort. The Emirate’s flight left on time and I also got to enjoy a couple of good films. So, for us all fine but a wee bit boring since we aren’t used to meals being served on time, we weren’t tired, yet in fact there was a general air of contentment.

Manu had an aisle seat and could get up whenever he chose to, without bothering anyone in the process….in short, we were as happy as a clam!

SECOND LEG – Dubai/Jakarta

In Dubai we hooked up with our fellow traveler Filippo, who will end up earning the nickname PAPPALILLO!

Things were beginning to go as we were accustomed to: it was early morning and we were getting hungry and perhaps a wee bit tired, too.

Did I say perhaps? No, each of us was beginning to show his colors and the characters of the plot were beginning to be defined even if their final form would only be so done on the ISLAND!

In any case, we had survived the first moments of excitement well, after meeting up with Filippo and we were already enjoying the typical surfer’s camaraderie and falling into the use of the lingo.

  • Did you check the forecast mate?!
  • It seems the sweel isn’t pumping up yet
  • Yea but just a cuople of days and the period is gonna grow up around 20 secs, the pattern is clear!
  • Ultraconsinstent!!!
  • Can you believe we’re going to surf in Mentawai?!
  • Unbelievable dude!
  • Ultraconsinstent!!!
  • Check out my brand new gps watch, It tracks you all the rides and gives stats form the session
  • Come on let’s have a look at the latest updated forecast
  • When did you surf last time?!
  • Yesterday, and you?
  • The day before
  • I really can’t wait to surf some of the best waves in the world, unbelievable mate!!!
  • How many board did you bring with you so?!
  • Three, but I already realize I just have two Zinco sticks, would they be enough?!
  • No worries dude I’ve got five!
  • Wow now I’m seriously tired!
  • Can you believe we’re going to surf in Mentawai?!
  • Unbelievable,m, but soon we’ll be there!

 

Mind boggled by these Nobel prize conversations we continued our journey.

In all honesty, even the second leg went rather well. If you discount the fact that Emanuele – my husband – abandoned me after take off, to look for a more comfortable seat, and that I was left with Filippo to enjoy a series of B rated movies!

So, may I make a small suggestion for when you are on a long and crowded flight?

Make sure to have along a surgical-mask!

Would be infectors are all over the place, coughing, sneezing, touching glasses, the seat next to yours. A surgical mask might not make you popular, but better unpopular than diseased, no?

Well, I must say again that the second leg went well all things considered, despite the fact that we were losing our shine. After all, we had been travelling for over 22 hours!

THIRD LEG – Jakarta/Jakarta

So, if you’ve followed me so far you won’t to miss out on a night in the Djakarta Airport hotel managed by TOPOTELS J

To economize, we had decided to share a room that had a double and 2 single beds, with a view on the runway!

Well, all I can say is that the night went by rather quickly, and thanks to the fact that we were literally INSIDE the airport, we checked in with Garuda in record time, for the final Djakarta-Padang leg.

 

FOURTH LEG – Jakarta/Padang

A piece of cake: only a 90 minute crossing! You’ll probably all be thinking: terrific, you’re finally there!

What??? Are you kidding me???

Pretzel’s Mania!

E come se non bastasse trovare nel bel mezzo dell’Indonesia una chicca calorica del genere…avete mai provato il CHAI LATTE di Starbucks?!? Beh…se amate la cannella e le bevande calde e cremose, non fatelo. Potrebbe crearvi dipendenza. Se poi trovate un pusher di Chai Latte laddove mai avreste creduto, la goduria è triplicata! Ma evitate di fare un errore basilare, della serie: si dai, mi prendo sta bomba calorica ma alla domanda Sugar? rispondo assolutamente NO, ostentando un sorriso velatamente oltraggiato. Stai peccando di gola?! Amico, fallo fino in fondo.

Uno dei motivi per visitare spesso gli Stati Uniti? CHAI LATTE! E non cadete nella tentazione di chiamarlo Chai Milk. Gli anglofoni non hanno la benché minima idea di cosa significhi Latte (separato dal Chai…), né credo si siano mai posti la domanda…quindi, se cercate di esibirvi in un virtuosismo linguistico del genere: “One Chai Milk, please…” otterrete soltanto sguardi atterriti e un alternativo: Chai Tea?!  Non mollate al primo tentativo, tenete duro e non cedete alla tazza di Tè! Prima o poi il barista capirà, mai perdere la speranza.

Faccia da CHAI LATTE…

P.s. non ho preso sponsorizzazioni né dalla zietta Anna, né dal caro Starby. Ma viaggiate voi per tre giorni, mangiando solo grazie al catering di bordo e poi ne riparleremo…essere contagiato dal facile entusiasmo diventa cosa semplice.

Dove eravamo?!? Si, io felice quanto un procione affamato lasciato libero nella cucina di un ristorante stellato, insieme ai miei due compagni di viaggio, in procinto di prendere il terzo aereo (senza doccia da quasi 40 ore, che aprire i bagagli per lavarsi, cambiarsi e dormire al Topotel, ci era sembrato sfacciatamente blasfemo).

Stavolta dai, una passeggiata di volo. Solo un’ora e mezza di traversata. Atterrati a Padang voi vi chiederete: caspita a questo giro sarete arrivati!!?? MA DE CHE AHOOOO!! Ma ti pare??

 

FIFTH LEG – Padang/Padang

Strani figuri si aggirano al ritiro bagagli.

A guy called Martha, the local rep, was at Padang apt to meet & greet us.

He could keep up a conversation in English, was quite polite and helpful. He was there to take us to our hotel.

It was raining cats and dogs in Pedang, but you can’t have it all.

And when you think you’ve seen it all, on stage appears the unexpected Mentaiwai-esque character: The Frenchman.

Well mannered, polite, silent, yet friendly and, like us, on his way to the Island – more about him later.

An hours trip by taxi and we were in our hotel. We immediately took advantage of the situation to dive into the luxury of a Mercure, the best hotel in Padang!

Not that it was actually luxurious, it really had more to do with us wanting to boast that we had slept in the best hotel in Padang, without having to share a room!!!!!

Now, let me talk a bit about the accommodation, otherwise what kind of a travel-blogger am I??

The rates were really great: a double room with dinner and massage, I think came to about $87.00.

Let me keep it at this since if I get too accurate with my travel descriptions, you could get used to it and later be disappointed, you never know.

 

INDO MASSAGES

90 minutes of massage, a so called couples massage, although this actually means that Manu and I shared the same room, not the same masseur.

Another tip? Am I giving you too many???

If you are asked by an Indonesian masseur: soft or strong? If you want to show that you are a man of the world, then answer: strong. But bear in mind that this could lead you to having to beg the woman massaging you to let go of your calf, securely held in a strangle-hold!

Remember though, when you beg, it’s already too late to do anything about it, other than suffer and look like a fool!

DINNER AT MERCURE.

Soups, spring rolls, various assorted hors d’oeuvre. Fantastic. Than you discover that they have würstels in the MieGoreng and that is just NOT on!

NIGHT AT MERCURE. Zzzzzzzz  ??

SIXTH LEG – Padang/Siberut

Let me keep it simple, for once. Transfer by car – with Martha – from the hotel to the port, where, enter stage left, the fourth character of this tale, Guillaume the Frenchman, enters the story.

We could not have had a ferry included in our relaxing itinerary, no?

Fast Ferry, made in Indonesia

I am still attempting to remove the memory of the long hours of the trip, but doing so brings out the crow’s feet as I think, and we were on the fast ferry!!!

But who am I, to complain about a direct Indonesian ferry transfer inclusive of -15 degree A/C, B class local movies in original language with no sub-titles on plasma screens!?

I wish to add at this point that I have a surfer as a companion in life and that I move in a parallel world when compared to regular couples. Add to this that Manu is also unique in his world and therefore if and when we travel with a friend of his, I end up spending more time with the third party than with him!

In short, Filippo and I spent most of the ferry trip watching movies on our computer.

Emanuele moaned and tried to get some sleep, a thing that eludes him regularly.

Guillaume, pods in his ears and with his gaze searching, out of the porthole, towards infinity (and in any case lost to the world surrounding him), completed the party and this is how we spent the entire ferry trip.

On the other hand, in a good novel, the Frenchman is always the one who is a bit distant from the rest, so I suppose it’s only fair to say that Guillaume was true to his character. Bravo Guillaume!

 

SEVENTH LEG – Siberut/Nyang Nyang

I have chosen to forget, hence not speak about the 2 hours spent waiting in I don’t even remember which port. But then again without this wait, everything would have gone too well and far too quickly to ride the ferry to our final destination, Siberut. Our dream Island!

 

Round 6oth hour of travel
Round 62th hour of travel

4pm FINAL DESTINATION!

Welcome to BENG BENG!

Once tossed the bags in our room, we headed off to enjoy our passions.

  • Pasta with pesto and seafood for me
  • First ride on the waves for the lads.


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