All I knew was that I was in need of holiday that involved sun, sea and good food. I couldn’t shake Greece from my mind, even though I had never been. I was planning on an all-inclusive trip with a friend who could no longer join me so I had to think of options for going alone.
The costs of an all-inclusive deal for one person were astronomical and I knew, in my heart that it wasn’t what I was really after. “Have you thought about going somewhere else?” a couple of friends asked when I lamented over my Greece plans falling apart. I couldn’t shake the sense of being drawn there, like Odysseus to the Sirens.
“If you want to go to Greece, you should just make it happen”, said another friend and I thought, you know what? She’s right!
I thought of everyone I know who has/had been to Greece and contacted someone I know spends a lot of time there. The only thing she could think of was that the Kalikalos centres in the Pelion region would be finishing their seasons and there might be opportunities to go there to help pack up centres.
I contacted Jock to ask about availability and five days later I was on a plane to Thessaloniki.
It turned out that the week I was Kalikalos Kissos, there was one final workshop, so packing down the centre wouldn’t begin in earnest until the following week. Nevertheless I had a wonderful week working as a staff member.
At first I found the idea of living in community daunting. What skills could I possibly bring to the table? How would I be useful and not get in the way?
After the initial worrying, my fears were set aside. It felt so easy to become part of the community. I really enjoyed working together on kitchen tasks like making breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not being a cook myself, I was able to learn a lot of new skills, especially as one of our group turned out to be a Cordon Bleu trained chef! It was a great opportunity to live so closely with other people who have different values and ideas, all working together towards the same goal.
Other tasks involved keeping the property and grounds in tip top condition, gardening, taking down the unused tents and helping with admin duties like registration and petty cash. A key lesson I learnt is that work can be fun, especially done collectively.
Every afternoon we were invited to go one of the three beautiful beaches, a fifteen minute car journey away. Staff are given one full day off a week. I had originally planned to go to the beach on my day off but instead took advantage of the beautiful mountain landscape and village of Kissos and went on a long, relaxing walk, looking out across the Aegean Sea.
The weekly “Taverna Night” was a great chance to meet people from the other centres and learn what everyone has planned between now and next May when the centres resume their workshops.
As the week progressed there was definitely a sense that the season was coming to a close, which was high-lighted as people left and more and more wildlife and nature encroached on the centre.
My wonderful week at Kalikalos was only enough to get a glimpse of what the centre is capable of when at full capacity and the range and breadth of workshops on offer.
I definitely plan to return again for much longer. Until then, I carry the sound of the cicadas and gentle waves with me.
Sophia C. — London