Friday 5th August

No meditation this morning – Eric and his companions were sleeping in the tent. Still no hot water. We’re making jokes that one of us must surely have set the record for the Guinness World Record for ‘Shortest Shower Ever Taken’.

The workshops today pushed us to the limit. Even the project leader Ed had to admit that the constant shifts and presentations were taking their toll. Towards the end, we were pushed to decide what projects we were most interested in – out of the selections, Sirenian and Turtle conservation projects attracted me the most. I saw somewhat defeat in my fellow conservationists, broken down by lack of food, sleep, and rest. During one meditation class, the group started to descend into arguments over the English language dominating the project, and how it restricts other people to express themselves in their own language (i.e. to their full potential). ‘English imperialism’ – it was almost like a bad day in Scotland.

Tensions started to rise even more when dinner finally came around. The cook that was promised to us in the report was in fact Teresa herself. However Teresa has been pushed into doing so much work driving people around over the last week, she has developed a cold and has subsequently become homebound. Given that our cook was not around, the dinner fell to a project leader in the house. The clash came when me and a few other guys went to get a burger from the local diner. Upon hearing that we had just eaten burgers, we were almost denied the dinner at the house. When we eventually managed to hand our plates in, they got lost. Our plates – and the meals on them – went to other people, meaning we ate off whatever was left around. I now have a pink plate – never has the term ‘what is this b*llshit’ been more appropriate.

Luckily at this point there was a big break – namely, the weekend. Finally, after sitting in the meeting room all day every day, I was now able to start doing the things I had come out here to do.

First on the chopping block was Friday night – Playa De Las Americas night.

I went out with Laura and two other girls, but instead of being dropped off at Americas, we were dropped off at Los Cristianos – more than forty minutes away. During the walk, one girl went home to her abode in Cristianos, leaving just Laura, myself, and our other female companion. However, as the walk continued, it became increasingly apparent that the girl Laura and I were with was not a normal person.

We have both done a documentary over the past year called ‘Our Life, Our World, Our Autism’, in which we followed, befriended, and interviewed several students at the special college in Coventry about their disorders (met with high acclaim I might add, in the least egoistic way possible). The similarities between these students and our companion were striking, yet we had no idea she had these sort of issues. She systematically refused on all accounts to go with us to Las Americas until certain clubs had been visited, certain photos had been taken, and certain local people had been met. Laura suffered a lot more than I did for this, but I cannot believe a girl with such disabilities was left in the care of Laura and myself, without us even having a warning. We decided not to leave her on her own – for better or for worse, we needed to get to Las Americas as a group. A ‘forty minutes walk’ turned into a much longer time frame, and a message is being passed on to Ed to hopefully find some resolution to this issue and prevent it from happening again.

By the time we arrived, it became apparent that the other groups had also run into trouble regarding crossing the epic distance to the clubs. I got through four 1-litre cocktails, a kamikaze shot, and a double whisky and coke before half twelve, when I inadvertently left the party to get a quick lift back with the project coordinators. Interestingly, during the ride back they claimed that although everyone seemed to agree hot water and food was an issue, nobody was making any serious complaints, and thus, politically, nothing could be done. Funny how some people were threatening with walk outs a few days ago. And of course, there was a good reason for my premature departure – I was doing my PADI course in the morning…

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