It was something I’d wanted to do for a long time, volunteering with the HOPE Foundation - the fantastic project that we support through Free Spirit to help children out of poverty in India.
Out of the thousands of amazing charities out there that I could possibly donate something towards.. this is the one that resonated the most with me.. no matter how poor, I believe children should always have access to an education and that’s something I’m extremely passionate about. I’ve always felt a connection with India and despite it being a challenged and challenging place there is something that draws me back time and time again..
I’ve always said that I had a love hate relationship with this wonderland.. because so often one minute I will be in awe of the beauty, the sights, the smells, the spices, the opulence, the warmth.. and the next moment I will be cursing for the exact same reasons...
I'm not really one for making yearly resolutions... I believe any day is a good day to start with good intentions, so long as you believe in it! It's no good saying “I'm going to give up peanut butter” just because it's the 1st January (and besides it's never gonna happen as 1. Why would I deny myself something I love so much? and 2. Ironically I am tucking into a jar right now as I'm typing this – so clearly it is my source of inspiration!)...
Sometimes you meet someone who you instantly connect with.. as if it was written.
My second day in Peru in Huacachina, an oasis in the desert, I walk past a young guy selling his drawings.. he has many Mandalas so I instinctively am drawn to take a closer look. We chat in both Spanish & English and I discover he's 21 years old from Cusco. He has a HUGE passion for travel and left his home town with just 300 Soles (about $100) 2 weeks ago and he's now as far as Huacachina selling his paintings and living a free spirited life. We of course instantly connect. He reminds me of the boy in the Alchemist (even living here in an oasis!) and as I've literally finished reading the book, I give it to him as a gift, although I'm sure he already knows most of the wisdom the book speaks of..
It's been a long time dream of mine. To spend a month learning Spanish in the mornings and Tango in the afternoons in Buenos Aires. However due to a lack of time (or more so an over ambitious sense of adventure to see all the places I want to on this trip) I now only have one week here. But what the heck.. lets do it for a week anyway! Better than nothing..
I meet Adrian my tango coach. I had googled "private tango lessons BA" and of the 3 tutors I looked at, for some reason I picked him. Maybe the seemingly cheesy quote on the website - "I believe tango should be danced with the heart not with the mind" stood out at me I don't know.. I just liked the philosophy.
From the first lesson I knew I made the right choice. I impressed myself with how much my muscles remembered from 15 years old which was the last time I was taught the Tango and many other Latin and Ballroom dances. However my first lesson was not so much fancy footwork, but about connection.
We didn't get off to the best start.
Buenos Aires & I...
I land at the airport from Salta, and as the conveyor belt hasn't started up yet for the bags, I head to the bathroom.. there's a bit of a queue so maybe it's 5 minutes (7 maximum) when I return.. to find the bags have been and gone, along with the passengers and my trusty blue ruck sack is no where to be seen..
I go to the baggage reclaim, they tell me I have to now go to the next terminal.. I get stopped by police half way as they've closed half the airport.. I'm getting a bit stressed..
My Spanish is increasing day by day and somehow as the synapsis in my brain seem to fire a whole lot quicker when I'm challenged, I find the vocabulary I need to use a whole lot faster.
The two men at the brunt of my despair are actually very helpful. They make a few phone calls and it turns out the airline do have my bag. But it's locked in their office now. And they went home. At 12pm on a Saturday afternoon. Of course they did...
I feel naked as I take a cab to the city with just my hand bag.
However as I arrive in Palermo, a chic upmarket neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, and check into my hostel "Caravan" I'm greeted with the warmest welcome.
Dani and her brother Guido, opened just one month ago, and it's quite possibly the BEST hostel I've ever stayed. Everything so clean and brand new, and with such a warm and friendly atmosphere I immediately feel at home.
When I tell Dani about my lost bag she runs around and finds me a towel, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, face cream.. everything! All I need to buy is a fresh pair of knickers and I can wait until tomorrow for my bag... all my troubles and stress of the morning literally dissolve into thin air. Wow. So so nice..