vacation

A Different Kind of Driftwood Trip

When my schedule was changed last minute and I found myself with two days off in a row my first thought was “I should go somewhere.” Then a few hours later, I was being invited to the beach for those exact days. Call it serendipity or the universe sending me a sign or call it nothing at all, whatever aligned at that moment I couldn’t say no. So I went back to Driftwood Surfer.

It was a totally different trip this time around. Polina, Virginia, and I were going to relax, decompress from Antigua, read books and give no fucks for a couple of days. It sounded perfect and it was.

We were happy to arrive to a calm Driftwood. The party starters weren’t there, the large group of rambunctious Aussies weren’t there, the friendship shots weren’t happening. Thank god. Instead we spent our days exactly as planned, taking long walks whenever we pleased, getting in some good hammock and book time, and, of course, hanging out in the pool at the pool bar. Even after day one I already felt like a different person, back to my chill self.

Of course we are the girls of Cafe No Se, so it wouldn’t be right to go three days without mezcal. Luckily Driftwood had a couple of bottles on hand, so we decided to lighten their load and take a bottle of Joven off their hands. For ourselves. Which we completely devoured over the course of 8 hours on day two. Bottle service of Ilegal Mezcal to the pool please and thank you.

By the time we boarded the shuttle back to Antigua on Wednesday I felt refreshed. It was exactly the trip I needed. Not just the escape from Antigua and time in the sun (my tan was entirely gone), but the company. I wish I had known earlier just how well the three of us got along. It was a joy to get to know Polina and Virginia beyond our work interactions. I feel lucky to call them my friends.

(Photo credit to Virginia)

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We (Barely) Survived Driftwood

A couple of weeks ago something unexpected happened: Lucky Rabbit closed for 2 days. Why? Because the owners are awesome and decided that we all needed to take a break and go to the beach together. So on a Monday morning 11 people and 2 dogs piled into a shuttle. Two hours and one convenience store beer stop later we arrived at The Driftwood Surfer at El Paredon.

To the people who have never been to Driftwood, a beach vacation may sound like a relaxing break from the bustling bar scene that is Lucky Rabbit. To the people who know better, it was not. It took less than ten minutes to go from beers in the shuttle to friendship shots in the pool bar. Lucky was not working, so what better way to celebrate than continue to do what we do best: party.

A pool, a swim up bar, a floating beer pong table, more friendship shots, a run to the beach, a jump in the ocean, back to the pool where Julio had set up his DJ equipment… The first afternoon was a blur of debauchery and fun. We were taking advantage of this day off.

The sun went down and everyone ran into the ocean. That’s when it all went wrong. The riptide is strong at Paredon, especially at dusk, and a friend got carried out too far. We heard the shouts for help and two people had two different but equally important reactions – Julio went into Driftwood for help, Brayan swam out to Javi. I won’t go into details, but it was a tense time when no one on shore could see what was happening in the ocean as darkness quickly took over. We walked the direction the current was moving and finally saw Javi crawling to safety, but Brayan was still out there somewhere. From the beach no one could see the surfboard rescue happening in the waves, but when the approaching shadows turned into friends the relief was beyond anything I can write. Everyone was okay. Exhausted, scared, and suddenly sober, but okay.

The next day people were tired, some opted to leave, but those of us who stayed had a tamer but still great time enjoying another day of freedom. A long walk on the beach and a hearty breakfast bolstered the afternoon at the pool bar, and this time sunset was enjoyed on land only.

By the time we went back to Antigua we felt like we’d truly escaped for a few days. Although we weren’t rested by any means. Dominos delivery and chill time at home were in order before the week could carry on. It will probably be a while before I return to Driftwood, but do not be deterred by our fairly traumatic experience, it is still a worthy escape from Antigua.

Happy New Year from Ko Phi Phi!

The ferry to Ko Phi Phi looked like spring break. Tons of young Westerners flooded the boat in their sundresses and bright tank tops ready to party away the end of 2014.

Kara and I boarded in Ao Nang and hoped that the promise of picking up Kate and Garrett from Tonsai on the way would work out. As per usual, it did, just in a very safety third kind of way. We hovered in the open water as a dozen long tail boats brought passengers aboard from Tonsai and Railay. Eventually Kate and Garrett were in one of these boats. Phew, we were relieved that worked out.

When we got to Phi Phi there were tons of men standing on the pier with signs for hotels and guesthouses. They put our backpacks in a cart and pushed it ahead, winding through the maze of Phi Phi’s town, leading us to our hotel. After we dropped our stuff we went straight to the beach for lunch.

The beach at Ko Phi Phi was more spring break. There were bars and chairs lining the beach full of tanning bodies. After a very chill beach restaurant for lunch we found a patch of sand to call our own and alternated exploring the water. Kara and I walked out. And walked and walked and walked. How far does it go this shallow? Pretty damn far. The ocean bay in this part of Phi Phi is like a giant shelf. Eventually we got in to our waists and had to drop down to our knees to finally go under. And the water was hot, like bathtub temperature. We crawled back on our hands. Garrett went on a mission for a frisbee and came back with a mat to lay on and a few beers. We played frisbee in the water with a new friend from San Francisco. I hadn’t seen so many Americans in such a long time as I saw on Phi Phi for New Years (including an old college friend I hadn’t seen since graduation who was checking in at the same hotel at the same time as us! So random.).

It was almost time for the main event: New Year’s Eve. Our hotel had required a “New Year’s Eve Gala” dinner when we booked it so Kate and Garrett got tickets to join us. We were not prepared. Everyone got a boutonniere and welcome drink upon arrival. We ordered cocktails while we waited for the Thai buffet to start. In the middle of buffet time they announced there would be games. At first people were hesitant to join, but then they announced the prize would be a bottle of wine. Kate, Garrett and I were the first on stage. After a rousing game of “try to pop the balloons on your competitors ankles before yours is popped or you break your ankle” in which Garrett and I were the last ones standing (couldn’t let me have it could you Garrett?) we enjoyed Garrett’s victory wine with our fruit and fried banana dessert.

10:00 rolled around and we decided it was time: to the beach! We stopped on the way to pick up the traditional drink of Ko Phi Phi: a bucket. We started with one purchased before we got to the beach; it was cheaper, and all the bottles were sealed so we knew what we were getting ourselves into. Four straws please. We took our new giant beverage with us to the beach and our jaws dropped.

The beach was a rave. Bar after bar after bar was open to the water playing music for anyone who wanted to walk up and join. After years of paying ridiculous covers to get into bars on New Year’s (or avoiding them at a house party) the bars on Phi Phi’s beach were welcoming us in with open arms and bucket stands. Lasers projected out over the crowd and there were people spinning fire in front of most bars. We did see a fire stick go rogue and hit a few girls sitting not too far away – Kara’s “watch out!” warning did not do the FLYING FIRE justice – but they seemed okay and everyone moved on. I felt like I was back at Burning Man. People roamed free, happily bouncing from DJ to DJ, towing their plastic buckets around with them.

When it got close to midnight, and we were on our second and third buckets, Garrett noticed a bunch of people had moved out into the water. There was a sandbar. We joined the sandbar club, carefully avoiding the ocean, which had turned into a giant toilet for the male gender. From out on the sandbar we could look back and see the whole crazy beach party behind us. It was epic.

Someone started a countdown and 2014 was almost over. As it struck 2015 Kara and I shared a kiss on the cheek and yelled Happy New Year! Fireworks exploded literally above us. It was the coolest way I’ve ever watched fireworks.

We stayed on the beach for a couple more hours, jumping around according to what song we liked best, until it was finally time for us to call it a night. It was an awesome party. I was so happy to have friends in town to celebrate with; I think I can safely say that Kara, Kate and Garrett had a good time too. This New Year’s is going to be a hard one to beat.