This summer I wanted to travel to a new place and spend a couple of weeks in nature by myself. My work, family and everything else took more importance past few months than my writing, which prompted me to take a break and go to an unknown place amongst unknown people and write.
I had promised myself to push my limits and take manageable risks to discover myself layer by layer, just like an onion peeling it self. So I did some research on the Internet and came up with “Skyros Writing Holiday”. After some phone calls to their office, I decided to take the plunge into an adventure holiday.
I’ve had a fairly protected up bringing, from my parents home I went to my husband’s home. Although I have travelled extensively, but never alone and never really explored or did any backpacking. To me this sounded almost like a “Blind date”, as I did not know what the place is, where would I stay and how would the staff and students be and what would the course entail. In short I took a leap of faith.
It was the month of August and the temperature in Greece was predicted to be around late 30 to 40 degree centigrade. I was told there might not be any fans in the rooms but the sea breeze would probably help. To top it all there was wildfire near Athens just two weeks before my departure date.
I was advised the journey from Athens to Skyros involved changing coach to ferry to coach to ferry 5 times in 6 hours and we had to carry our luggage all the way to our accommodation. The hilly cobbled roads in Skyros compelled our feet and hands to be the only transport within the village.
Having skipped this kind of adventure during student life when we are more geared for roughing out, I inspired myself by saying, ‘it’s never too late.’
Just a day before my departure I started feeling nervous about my spontaneity and the new founded adventure streak in me. I saw an image of myself carrying suitcase, backpack and my handbag climbing up hill to finally reach my scorching room panting for breath. Once I saw the worst, I set my expectation to ground zero, knowing everything from here will be a bonus.
I left early morning to Heathrow airport to fly to Athens. The night before I started to feel under the weather and developed throat congestion and cough. I nursed myself with lozenges, throat comfort tea and Neurofen for cold. On the way to the hotel in Athens, I spoke to the taxi driver and arranged with him to give me a private tour of Athens. I have never done this before as we have always organised cars by hotel concierge and I like to play it super safe all the time. But I knew I could trust my intuition and had a fabulous three hours of driving around with Greek hospitality and humour.
We were informed through the hotel that there is an evening meet at the Terrace for all the Skyros holiday participants. I felt a bit of anxiety of the next step to the adventure but told myself “it will be great”. As I walked in, I met an absolutely delightful elegant lady also going to Skyros. Soon there were so many interesting people from different parts of the world.
Early next morning we started our musical chair/transport 6 hours long journey to Skyros. I told myself ‘I am having an amazing time and this is a transformational experience to help me let go and explore.’
The more I felt being pushed out of my comfort zone, the more I opened the constriction of my throat by taking deep breaths. Each time I created space within myself I was pleasantly surprised. I was acknowledging my fear and anxiety but this time instead of holding myself back I embraced my fearful thoughts and went along with deeper breaths and belief. I was flowing….
Upon arrival in Skyros, warm friendly staff members greeted us and volunteered to carry my luggage to my room. As I entered my room quite light with only my handbag, I felt cool air blowing in the room. My eyes went beyond the wooden frame glass window right in the centre of the room to the views of hills and the blue clear sea. Soaking this beauty and pausing with a big smile I applauded myself mentally for overcoming my doubts of undertaking this trip. In the corner I noticed an air con unit working super efficiently almost winking at me. When we are prepared for the worst and hope for the best…surprises come our way in many ways.
Being vegetarian I wasn’t sure of how I would sustain for 2 weeks. But then I needed to lose weight and told myself maybe this will work to my advantage. Surprisingly during every meal I was spoilt for choice and I put on a few kilos instead.
Each morning started with energizing yoga session most days on a terrace overlooking the mountain and sea with fresh cool air cleansing our lungs simultaneously. It was followed by healthy breakfast with fresh fruits and a wide spread of cheese, bread, muesli, eggs etc.
Our writing session was three hours long and then we had lunch and time for the beach, nap or a massage.
The first week was tougher as everyone was new and was trying to settle in this new routine, which was not only breaking away from our old one, but also challenging both at mental and physical levels due to the topography of the place.
Towards the end of the first week I started feeling conflicted with my expectations of writing and decided to spend the day by myself on the beach. As I reflected on my purpose of the trip and what I was achieving, I managed to realign myself with the flow. I am a spiritual writer and the others were looking more at fiction novel or memoir. I realized everyone was going through their own doubts and fears of rejection of their ideas and creativity. I pulled myself back and saw the bigger picture, part of the adventure and exploration process. I was also getting used to trekking by now rather than flat walking.
The days flew by and we made friends and despite the diversity and totally out of my comfort zone, I have not laughed and had so much fun in a long time.
As I look back and reflect, it was my deep desire to want to have a great time and allow myself to explore, discover and trust in the process. I manifested that for myself despite a bit of a rough start and a conflict of expectations I had in the middle. I managed to resolve and breathe through everything to find an opportunity in every situation and that is the gift I had.
“To believe in myself and go for it”, I look forward to my next adventure and feel grateful to all my co passengers in this beautiful, exciting journey called Life.