Thursday 4th August

Woke up today at 7:00am to go for a shower. It was one of the coldest showers I think I’ve ever had – it now holds a place in my own private ‘world records’ book. I tried using the cold tap on it’s own to see if it was any warmer. When I used the hot and cold taps I’m pretty sure it got even colder.

Safe in the knowledge that sunny weather was upon us, I went for the first of many meditation sessions, followed by a lesson in Spanish. Fortunately there was a short time window in the morning for some of the lucky ones to stock up on supplies, allowing me to get some nice nectar juice drinks and other items.

The presentations that took place today were particularly questionable. Everyone here has already been introduced and inducted into anti-whaling petitions and dolphin conservation, yet we were still given a one hour lecture on this topic. The fact that none had rehearsed or proof-read their presentations beforehand also became more evident as the day went on – one girl even had an attack of nerves which halted her presentation, which makes me wonder why she was ever allowed to do a presentation in front of thirty volunteers to start with.

The evening was ‘African Night’, with a shaman called Eric and a number of his tribe visiting us from Ghana. However my attention was first turned to our own spiritual leader Bronwen (who teaches us meditation techniques).

Last time I visited Tenerife, I met Bronwen for just one day. That night, she did a tarot card-reading session with several volunteers. Because I was late to put my name down, I missed out. I would have placed it on my ‘to do’ list, though I didn’t expect to be meeting her again. I got a wonderful selection of cards opened up in front of me, including several death cards, a pagan evil devil of satanic origin, and a grim reaper choosing a chalice. The tarots foretold an inner struggle in my very immediate future – it will be a large conflict, but a fun one that isn’t as serious as I make it out to be. The resolution will end with the death of (I’m guessing) the loosing force, culminating in a new door opening, and a brief period of victory, before a very important choice will have to be made. Given that I am approaching my last year of university, if the ‘choices’ are what I do with my life after the course is over, all this is set to happen within the next few months.

Afterwards, we all ate some African food consisting of some tomato-chicken broth, some vegetarian mince, and some rice. Fatigue and hunger has already started to spread across the camp – some were starting to wonder if they would go home because of the lack of food. Some people seemed to making the threat seriously. Quite simply, there is still no hot water, and there is nowhere near enough food to carry the thirty odd volunteers through the ten hour days.

For the moment though, as the sun sank below the mountains, I indulged in a bit of drum playing. Teresa turned up, and we sat and bashed away at the bongos, whilst others played around with kazoos and giant wooden xylophones. Eric – the shaman – started to make a fire as night fell. I carried wood to the fire, and then subsequently left to bring Teresa her gift. I purchased a selection of British teas for her, as a way of thanks for being my friend and for driving me everywhere all the time. She seemed very exhausted from all the driving and a little down, so hopefully my gift will lighten her spirits a little. She was very happy with the gift.

There was a scare when my sleeping bag just simply vanished from my bed. I hunted around, eventually managing to find it being used by Teresa – someone had given it her in error, thinking it was her friend’s sleeping bag. I was feeling so down about this, I did make the decision that if my sleeping bag had been stolen, I was to leave this project the following morning and hike around Tenerife myself. There’s no internet here, no food, and no hot water. My return flights are not being paid for anyway, I can always meet Laura around the island at a later date. 

After the issue was resolved, I joined my place around the camp fire and listened to Eric’s stories. I eventually asked him a question myself, hinting at what the tarots had foretold (and what I already half-expected to happen next year anyway). What advice did he have for preparing for an inner conflict?

He seemed confused by the question at first, but eventually managed to get me to admit that I’m very envious of everyone around me. He told me about using the eyes, the heart and the mind. His delivery was very different from any spiritualist I’ve ever met before. Of course, the cure for envy is self-belief – but how does one achieve this sense of being? We talked for twenty minutes, as the fire died out, leaving us under a clear sky of stars. It was like every African documentary you’ve ever seen – although this was of course in Tenerife, on the small desert plateaux next to the meditation tent. Eric and I hugged after the talk, and he personally invited me to Ghana (his home country) some time. He also said he was going away, but would return before I leave to give me a gift – something he wanted to create and give to me. I was rather humbled by the offering – I hope we do meet again before the placement ends. Also (par usual of myself), I’ve started writing a song about the encounter. If I finish it before the last day, I’ll be sure to post it up!

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