Down A Cliff And Out To Sea


It all starts in an overheated coach on the overheated island of Tenerife. I’ve survived the Mars landscape of Mount Teide and come out of the Hobbit-esque lava tubes underneath it alive. Now the bus rumbles towards cliffy Los Gigantes for the boat trip to view the pilot whales. It sounds nice on the leaflet.

I squirm in my scratchy coach seat, too hot and too sticky, and try to wipe some of the dust/sun cream mixture from my face. The breeze of the ocean will surely be a welcome relief as the top portion of my water slops over the floor of the coach as we steam over another knobble in the road. I re-load my water and go for another sip…and miss my mouth again as a corner catapults me up against the dirty window.

We all board the boat.

Soon La Gomera lurches out of the ocean on the blurry horizon. The island sways and dips in a green and brown swish of nauseatingly vivid colours. Through the haze, as the boat I am on thrusts itself violently over wave after wave, I see my disembodied arm reach out for it – as if in some way I can actually stop the boat by grabbing the dry land I can see on the distant edge of the world.

I am quite happy to live there, forever, on La Gomera, splodged alone in the Atlantic Ocean, if it means I can get off this boat!

I am beginning to wish I had stayed on the beach and hadn’t signed up for day trips. I can see her, that other version of me, lying on her perfectly arranged towel, straw hat on, cocktail in one hand, trashy book in the other…

Instead I wipe fevered sweat away from beneath my hat as our boat journey continues. However, I’m not really too hot anymore. Not only is it ten shades of freezing out on the open water, now the dark cloud that has come over the boat, and the waves it has brought along for a laugh, are slowly destroying my digestive tract, one sickly burp at a time. I breathe in deeply, now sprawled over a wooden bulkhead, avoiding eye contact with the Spanish deck hand who is threatening to ask me if I’m okay. I’m not.

The boat pitches from side to side, up and down, and I’m quite sure, at one point, because I’m feeling so sick, that we must have rolled right over. Only my dry clothes convince me otherwise. The captain merrily announces that we are going “a little further out to see some

whales!” as my head spins and I accept the possibility of throwing up over myself on a holiday boat full of strangers.

“After the whales we will tour the cliffs!”

I want to throw myself off one.

Louise shouts from the railing “a whale! A whale!”

A giant alien squid could lurch out of the black waves and eat the boat for all I care. I don’t give a damn about the whales or the cliffs. I want off! At one particularly pathetic moment I retreat back in time and I want my Mum…who is with us on holiday and has decided not to come because “I don’t like boats… I get a bit sick.”

They say we turn into our Mothers with age. I turned into mine halfway to La Gomera on a pirate shaped boat in the beginnings of a tropical storm…

Eons later the boat turns and heads away from the whales as we lurch back towards Los Gigantes and those bloody cliffs.

I shut my eyes. My knuckles are white from holding on to the railing that is currently my gravity. Leave me here I want to whisper, just chuck me over the side.

By the time the cliffs are only a few metres from the boat I have managed to keep my vomit down but I am also quite sure that I am dead. My body is weightless and my head definitely not connected to it. Louise pats my sun hat-ed head and assures me that we will be “off in a minute”. Have you any idea how long or disgusting a minute is when you feel that sea sick!

I hobble off and back on to the firm ground of Los Gigantes. I belch loudly and do the only thing worth doing.

I wipe my brow, shudder, and head straight to the bar.



W Blair

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