Hard Copy


Interview MEZZANINE

And then at one point there comes the day for your first interview, first publication, first “Q&A” – eventually there comes a time for recognition. A while ago now, MEZZANINE magazine for interior design and architecture in Russia published my thoughts on conceptual design as part of their investigation on the culture of design in Britain and the educational institutions that are famed for their impeccable programme. INCHBALD School of Design of London, UK (in collaboration with the University of Wales) is one of those institutions, of which I am happy and proud to have been student.

 

White INC Design – the beginning

And one day it happens. The drawings are done, the layouts and design – approved. Active material sourcing in course and hectic logistics issues in hand. And in the middle of it all – men with incredible for today’s world ability to make beautiful things with their hands walk into the space for the first time, set their tool boxes on the floor, take their jackets off, put the music and their goggles on, and the magic begins….
Demolition phase – the beginning of a new interior design coming alive.

 

Demolition phase

 

Deep Blue Sea

 

At the age of 5 I somehow managed to squeeze into the living room when my parents were watching Jaws… That’s probably the moment that my panic of deep water was born.

I spent most of my growing up next to the Atlantic, and jumped the waves for as long as I can remember. But the subconscious fear, planted in my head like a poisonous thorn, became more and more obvious as I grew up – I felt mortified if a tiny little fish or a piece of seaweed touched my leg in the shallow waters, I developed a habit of wearing snorkel rubber slippers to avoid touching the bottom with bare feet, and I sure stayed close to the shore.

Needles to say, fear in itself, is a very strong destructive force – it seriously damages your inner self, makes you loose your emotional balance, tune into the so-called “low frequency vibrations” (if we talk about the energies that fill us and the world around us) and generates psychological blockages.  Not the kind of fear that prevents you from jumping off a cliff, but the kind that is also categorized as phobias, or manias. A reasonable fear of an imminent danger is a logical reaction to a present cause. A phobic shiver is an emotional associative reaction to a past trauma, that has nothing to do with the reality of the situation in the present.

I’d lived with this “luggage” related to open water all my life, and as one gets older – the fears in our inner closets only become more twisted and in general have a tendency to grow. Like some sort of a fungus that, if not, treated, spreads onto a greater surface.

I am also known as a person who is extremely diligent about keeping things clean (not necessarily tidy, although that as well).  Fungus is not something that you would find in my kitchen, behind my fridge, between the tiles in my bathroom or in any other part of my habitat. So it was just a matter of time that the “fungus” in my emotional habitat became unbearable and required immediate action. I decided to face my fear. I was 27, and I had had enough.

And the remedy came sooner than expected – on our girls’  trip to Thailand to celebrate the 8th of March, I promised myself to overcome my phobia. By learning to dive.

When I was being briefed and received my first training, and even when I was on the boat with about 50 professional divers – all men of about 40 and quite robust-looking – I thought “ok, how bad could this be, right?”

But when I was equipped with all the necessary gear, barely able to stand up because of the weight of it (the tank of air on your back is something that I still struggle to move around the boat with!), with regulator in my mouth, mask on my face, fins on my feet and a BCG jacket that felt like it was devouring the rest of me – I started to feel completely lost and frustrated.

And then with all of this on I had to make the step. The step that would change my life. The step from the open backside of the boat,  into the blue abyss. Probably the most difficult step I ever had to make, so far.

That was the first level of initiation – that step. I hesitated for about 10 minutes, couldn’t quite picture myself not drowning directly with so much add-on weight! And then – splash! I was in, and floating. Euphoria filled my body as I slowly became comfortable with all the equipment in the water, suddenly it didn’t weigh anything anymore. What a relief!

But the most important, the second level of the ultimate challenge was yet to dawn on me. I had to deflate my jacket and go under. Not for a few feet, not even for a few meters, like I easily could do when snorkeling or pool-diving. I had to keep going down, where everything is a different color, where the sun is only a flicker of light that you see far up above you if you look up. Where the world changes and you find yourself surrounded by another civilization, another eco- and social system, and the inhabitants of that world swim or crawl past you with curiosity and surprise in their eyes – what are these strange creatures with legs and arms and plastic fins doing down here?

I couldn’t let go of the so-comfortable air at first. About a meter down panic gripped me and all alarms went off in my mind screaming “you can’t go any deeper – YOU ARE NOT BUILT TO BREATHE DOWN THERE!!”, and, of course, the ever-present fear creature inside me joined in with “how are you going to handle the situation when you see a big fish, a shark!! – you’ll forget all the safety norms and choke!”

So I came up and another 3 minutes of floating on the surface were necessary for me to shut up all those inner voices (that were not mine to begin with), and finally decide to let go of that “emotional luggage” that I kept carrying around all my life. I just visualized how this ugly old suitcase filled with fears and doubts sank into the deep before my eyes. It just drowned deeper and deeper becoming smaller and barely visible, until it finally vanished into the dark blue.

I took one last breath on the surface, gripped the regulator with my teeth and closed my eyes. In a couple of seconds, I felt my body shiver of doubt one last time, but as soon as I made the first breath through the octopus, and the dry and chilly air from the tank filled my lungs, I knew I was going to be ok.  I grasped the rubber in my mouth stronger and made a couple of deep breaths to ensure that I was really breathing underwater. And as that wooshing sound of air rushing into me stabilized and i was breathing regularly, i felt that absolute happiness and joy filled  my body along with that air – the joy of letting go of a life-long burden, the joy of discovering that your limits are the ones that you set for yourself, the joy of careless floating among the most beautiful things and creatures on the planet, the joy of a sense of freedom.

Diving is as close as a human can get to flying – suddenly you can move in all directions that you wish, 360, you can float still, or move at a speed of your choice. You can do it with almost no effort, feeling like a little mermaid, and the best thing is that for about 45 minutes you get the chance to feel part of that world full of wonders, beauty in its very raw shape and form, and share a moment in time and space with some of the oldest creatures on the face of our planet.

Years have gone by since that first step and first breath. I now am a certified diver, dive with my own equipment, and among others have enjoyed the marvels of the dive-sites around Sipadan (Borneo, Malaysia), the Banco Chinchorro in Mexico, and, of course, the Mediterranean. You can see some of my underwater footage on my photos page. I can’t imagine my life without diving now – would you imagine yours without flying, once you’ve tried it? But first you have to let go of that “suitcase”, and I recommend you do, the sooner – the better. Whatever fears your suitcase contains – drop it.  And then take the step, the jump, the leap, whatever it is in your case – do it. The freedom that fills the space of that luggage will make you a better person, and definitely – a happier one.

Confidencias in public

 

On public squares and in town and village parks all around Yucatan (the rest of Mexico as well?) one can encounter a funny looking sculpture like feature – sillas de confidencias, or “secret-sharing seating”. The stone chairs are built together, facing each other in a way that allows the two people seating in them to look each other in the eyes while they are sharing a social moment of interaction. A small detail, but that makes a very strong statement regarding the attitude of the people towards the social part of their lives, the respect for a quite moment, a “pause” for a conversation, and a general feeling of importance to share these moments with the ones you care for.

 

Turtle tribute

 

The Mexicans care about their environment and their wildlife – fact! And you can’t help but feel profound respect for their attitude, when, for example, an elderly security guard narrates you the story of the white turtles that come to nest to the shores of Cancun (among many other species) and how specially assigned people help the little ones to finally reach the waters of the sea unharmed, giving them a better chance of survival than they would have in normal circumstances.

While sunbathing yesterday on the coral-white sand strip in front of our hotel, I noticed a small area near the back side of the beach that was corralled with nets… We had just been talking to the dive team about the fact that the night that we arrived to Cancun there were about 50 baby turtles that were recovered from their nest and freed into the Caribbean just near our hotel. So I guessed that protected “corral” might just be it.

Luckily enough, as we walked up to the place a tall and very serious looking man in a uniform stepped out of the palm shades holding a big plastic box and joined us the reserved rectangle of sand.

All we could see inside the nets was a wooden sign with a little sheet of paper attached to it that stated a date (07/10/2012), Status: recovered, and a number of eggs…. the sign was stuck into the sand and that was pretty much all you could see. But we were looking at a real turtle nest! And the uniformed man kneed down and started digging… After a couple of minutes and about 40 cm deep he grabbed something grey moving about and took it out of the hole – it was a baby turtle of the White Turtle type, an amazingly sweet sight as the little guy waved his fins at us with the cord that connected him to the eggshell just a few hours ago still hanging from his belly. After greeting the world for the first time in the hands of a careful human, the little guy was put into the plastic box to await his other brothers and sisters.

The man kept digging and more and more of them were recovered from the pit. The turtles have a magnetic part in their heads that automatically indicates them where to go and they start moving their little fins as fast as they can in order to reach the water. To reach safety, because while they are on the sand and during the day – they are an easy prey for the seagulls and pelicans. As they reach the water – large fish is also a threat but that’s law of nature and statistically it’s certain that not all will make it through the first hours in the sea. Still, water offers a safer haven than the beach.

That’s why the little gang will be kept in their temporary plastic home for a few days, until the cords that are still hanging from their bodies break loose (otherwise they would attract too much attention from the fish) and at night, with the darkness concealing their blackish bodies in the crystalline turquoise waters, the careful human will free them into the sea.

They are the last pack of this season and for some time the protected corral will stand empty with only the dried eggshells to remind the curious of it’s purpose, but soon the cycle will repeat itself, and new little fins will touch the waters safely, thanks to a careful human. Just the way it should be.

 

 

 

Towards the Sun

 

As the plane headed for the second half of our trip across the Atlantic, I could see the night catching up on us from the East, biting our tail and we were not meant to win that race. By the time we touched land, Cancun was already glittering all it’s lights at us and the sun was long gone. It was only 6:30 pm, which made me wonder how we could possibly fulfill all our road trip plans with a day so short…. We once had the same issue sailing near Grenada. Getting up nice and early in the morning will save the day, I guess.

Cancun is scheduled for the next 2 full days, so we’ll get some time to adjust to the weather/time difference, food, etc. before we head inland Indiana Jones style.

We’re un luck – the car rental was out of Jettas, so we gladly accepted a Dodge. Good clearance for what we have in mind in a couple of days…

As we drove into the main hotel zone, located on a 23-km long strip of land in the middle of the Caribbean,  I couldn’t help but feel an aching déjà-vi every time a “Red Lobster”, “Outback”, etc. signs sprang along the road. After a 10-hour flight seeing this confused my interior GPS  even more – where am I? Weren’t we going to Mexico? Why am I in the States?? Even the inside plastic of the rental car smelled exactly as the cars smell in the US…

American accent all around, Apple store, Starbucks, LV, etc. (Cancun is a franco-zone for shopping, so duty free is one of the attractions) but with a happy Mexican face smiling at you round the clock – these are the first impressions of our first few evening hours.

We rate ourselves as budget travelers, and consciously choose only reasonably priced but clean and neat accommodation wherever we go. The hotel room with a hypnotizing view over the Caribbean but quite simple in amenities and style, resulted to be an excellent choice. Right on the beach in the central part of the long strip of land that forms the Cancun Lagoon, spacious and providing what for me is the best part of any beach stay – the sound of the sea waking you up in the mornings.

And around 7 am next day, as I open my eyes and slowly let the reality of our beginning adventure sink in, I suddenly notice that the tired and stuffed feeling after the transatlantic flight that wore me out only yesterday, is now gone.