Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thoughts of Kalikalos, My Holistic Retreat from a Scottish Winter

Winter Reflection from long time volunteer Johanna Aro-Louis

The snow is falling gently and it is mid January in Scotland. Although I love the crisp, cold days of the winter, sitting by the fire my thoughts turn to last summer and another place I love.  A place where I wake up into brilliant sunshine every morning. Where I can throw a T-shirt and shorts on my body and be warmed up by the glorious sun. That is Kalikalos

Kalikalos is Greek and it means "good-good"! 

I have been transported in my mind to Greece, to the peninsula of Pilion, lush and green with incredible beaches, waterfalls, high mountains, serpentine roads. 

Our little community lives high up on the mountains. If I look down I am greeted by the blue sea below. If I get up early enough, I can see the sun rising from the sea, red and orange.

I enjoy a gorgeous breakfast with Greek yoghurt, local honey and soft fruit, sometimes picked up from the trees growing on our patch. Then I join the staff meeting which follows the ”The Way of the Council” principles. I listen to each person and I share how I feel. No judgement. How wonderful is that! I am what I am, I let others be what they are. Of course this ”judgement” thing becomes more difficult, when we are working together, and making decisions! However, we do our best trying to solve our problems by talking. I work in the garden, kitchen or maintenance until lunch.

Lunch over, we all jump into one of the cars and drive down to the beach for the afternoon. Sometimes I prefer to walk down to the shore along the old donkey paths although it takes me an hour. 
I look out for a shade, lie down on the hot sand, and let the heat engulf me. When I’m too hot I run into the sea, and float or swim far away. Occasionally I just sit in one of the cafes by the sea and read or dream away looking at the emerald green waters.

Early evening I water the garden, or cook for the community. The dinner time is pure relaxation, chatting with all the people who have come to join us in Greece. I love the mix of different nationalities, personalities, joy and laughter.

And then after washing up, we head to the tiny village we are part of, and have a drink in one of the cafés, or bars. Sometimes there is a village fête which can last three days, sometimes a grand wedding with live music and dance.

Life is rich at Kalikalos with sharing of work and fun with many wonderful personalities. Most people leave after a week, and new people arrive. It is a constant change. New faces, new experiences. I usually stay as a staff member (this is possible for practically anyone), but I can also attend one of the many interesting workshops, or I can stay as a living-in-community guest.

The area is still very Greek, hardly any other foreigners, and little English is spoken. There are small hidden beaches, a 1000 year old enormous plane tree, little villages dotted here and there on the mountain slopes, deep crevices, wild herbs if you can spot them, olive trees, apple trees, chestnuts, occasional fig, or peach trees. And the glorious sun ever present!

Back to my fire, it needs another log and it is still snowing, my last summer in Greece is far away but I am looking forward to the new season and I will be there soon.   

Johanna Aro-Louis

The 2013 programme of Summer Courses has something for everyone of all ages: from Student community building weeks,  Vegetarian cookingRaw Food detox, BioDanza- inspired Dancing with Life in late July and the Family Fortnight in August.