I have recently returned to the yoga retreat in Portugal, where I spent a couple of months volunteering in the kitchen at the end of last summer. This place opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. I was surrounded by and associating with completely different types of people to my normal circle of friends. These people seemed more open to my style of living. They allowed and encourage me to speak openly about the alternative therapies and most of them practice or are learning the same kind of things.
I travelled across from Barcelona to Ericeira in my van with a friend from the UK. After a pretty intensive 3 weeks of partying and a not so fun drive, including various breakdown issues and the loss of 4th gear. I really needed to clear my head and let my body recover. We met with a couple of other friends that had made the trip across a couple of days earlier and set up camp down on the beach where other #vanlifers were camping. In the midst of coming down hard from partying and freaking out about my ever diminishing funds, I had spent a few hours researching things I could do, to save money and give me some kind of sense of purpose. Knowing I was heading in the direction of a world class surfing reserve, I naturally came up with the idea of volunteering at a surf camp or yoga retreat.
Only hours after arriving in town I received an email from Lia, the owner of Omassim Guesthouse telling me they had just lost a member of staff and would love for me to come and see the place and do a few days trial. Seeing this as an omen, I took her up on the offer right away.
My first encounters with the staff were a little bit of a struggle. I was forcing myself out of the comfort zone and the familiarity of being around some of my closest friends. I had to meet new people, overcome language barriers and try and find a place in an already very well established community. I was possibly a little resistant at first, I also believe the staff had seen quite a few passers by throughout the season. So this made the first few days pretty tough. There were slight tensions with myself and the other owner Eduardo, mainly due to no real common language spoken between us, but I trusted the universal language of my heart and in my ability to watch and learn... hopefully very quickly!
I hung in there, and Eduardo kept cool and his patience and allowed me to get to grips with the way he wanted it to be. Eventually even giving me some breathing room and trust. I soon realised I was a part of the family and that this place had taken a piece of my heart and would be very tough to leave. I started spending more time at the retreat and enjoyed getting to know the different customer. I started integrating in the local community, the more people I met the more I felt another path was opening up for me here. I was spending time with yoga instructors, energy healers, motivational coaches and massage therapists, my old habits of partying to oblivion to avoid my anxious mind, were becoming more manageable as I was settling my thoughts in other ways.
I returned to the freezing cold UK over Christmas to earn the funds needed to fix the gearbox troubles with the van. I threw myself straight back into the lifestyle of working nights, surrounded by drugs and alcohol and soon slipped back into those old habits. I was still managing to practice yoga most days, but leaving the hose during daylight hours had become a real struggle. But, for me there was a light at the end of the tunnel this time, I needed to take this down time to save and be able to return to fix the van and continue my journey.
I came back to collect the van, but it was bad news. I needed a whole new gearbox and after nine and a half weeks of having the van the mechanic hadn't been able to fix it. It was time to practice another level of patience and learn the ways 'The portuguese mechanics'. After realising that my mechanic hadn't been able to even give me the part number I need to find in order to replace it I came to the decision, I needed a new mechanic as well as a new gearbox. Luckily for me there are some amazingly kind humans in this world and after agreeing with Lia to be able to move into the retreat I headed north with the van to a new mechanic. After getting the news that the problem was worse than anticipated I agreed to leave it with him returned to the retreat with the help of another very kind friend.
Although the retreat was not open to guests, there is still a micro community of us winter workers, trying to make a place for ourselves and exchanging our skills in order to pay our way and connect with each other. We are all from various places and different backgrounds around the world and speak multiple different languages, but there is one universal connection between us all. The desire to travel, the need for community and a will to connect and do what it takes to continue towards our destiny. Some of us have no idea where or what that is just yet. Others are closer to it and are taking the transitional steps towards it. But there's one thing I know for sure This place is magical and if there are decisions to be made, there possibly no better space for me to make them.
As soon as the van was fixed I took a month out in the south of Spain with my parents, adopted a dog and filled up on some well needed family time before spending a week exploring the south coast of Portugal and returning back to work in the kitchen for another 10 weeks.
Coming back a 3rd time has been a little bit of an adjustment, I've suffered with a little bit of illness and regressed a little to my reclusive ways, but with the help of my friends here, I'm getting back on track and trying to get myself into a routine. I'm training in Muy Thai with a friend T-O the owner and founder of Atlantic Thai Body Works based here in Ericeira.
I'm still waiting to try bouldering with my friend Daniel from the retreat who just set up an new instagram to promote climbing in the local area called Ericeira Boulder and SUP (stand up paddle) but luckily for me, there are more awesome humans coming into my life daily... this weekend I'm going to have my first SUP lesson with a guy called Luis, owner of Lois Sessions who just happened to pop for coffee at my friends place almost immediately after me mentioning that it was something I want to try... Magic, fate or coincidence??
I just believe it's the universe telling me I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be!!