Hello everyone. My name is Dimitra and I would like to share with you the joy of taking on responsibility.
I got here about two weeks ago. My second day at the staff meeting that we have every morning, the focaliser of the meeting asked who wanted to take on the position of transport focaliser. Since nobody else was raising their hand, I jumped in without having any idea what I was getting myself into. The first day went very smooth, just counting the number of people and matching them with the places in the cars. A few days later, however, when it was our big night out, I grasped why nobody else was eager to deal with it. Transportation for so many people who keep changing their minds can be an unbelievably chaotic task.
And as if that wasn’t enough, a couple of days later, I was asked to take on the post of kitchen focaliser and I said yes! Luckily, I was sharing it with two other people but that didn’t make it an easy job. Added to these, I have my regular five shifts per week where amongst them I’m called to focalise the preparation of lunch, dinner or the cleanup afterwards. And seeing how keen people where in speaking at least some greek, I organised a Sunday evening greek language lesson.
One would naturally ask “how do you cope with such big amount of tasks; when you haven’t done any of them before? Isn’t it overwhelming?” And I can’t deny that it is! But once you learn the ropes, (or at least think you do…hahha) there’s something incredibly fulfilling in knowing that you are in charge of something and people expect to see it done. Especially when you live in a community that feeling is amplified. Cause you actually know the people who profit from how well you’ve done your job. You have lived with them and have come to care.
Written by Anya Owen – a semi-Scottish student from the “mainstream”
When I first spoke of my plans for the summer, my friend recoiled. “You’re going to a commune?” he said.
“Er, not really.” How could I explain this properly?
It’s true – the ethos of the Kalikalos network is really hard to explain, especially to people who haven’t experienced it before. I always have trouble articulating its goals, without drawing on the “homeopathic drumming circle” image that usually comes to mind whenever I speak about it. The holistic ethos can be quite scary, apparently.
I learned this on my first night in Alexandros. A guest had brought her Diet Coca-Cola to enjoy at the dinner table, and she was genuinely shocked when she learned that Diet Coca-Cola contained harmful ingredients. Genuinely. She didn’t like the idea that her drink wasn’t considered healthy. Of course, health is only one of the underpinning values of the Kalikalos network, operating alongside the values of sustainability and community.
Community is a strange thing. Why is it so strange, really, to eat together, cook together, laugh together, in all moments of the day? Why does it make me uncomfortable when I learn that we have a shared responsibility to take care of our surroundings? Why is it so foreign to me that I could share my feelings, of all things? Yet, it does not feel strange at all. Not here, anyway. Here, it is the norm to explore together and laugh together, and it is the norm to be democratic in our interactions. It is very normal to want to take care of the environment around us, and to want to take care of each other. The compassion in this community is integrated in every movement, in every action.
It’s quite refreshing.
Hopefully – after my ten weeks in paradise are up – I can learn to integrate these values in my life back at home, in Glasgow. Health, sustainability, community.
I can try to articulate this with all my might, but really, maybe it would be better to invite you to join in, and you can see for yourself.
The smooth, white stone, picked up off the beach down the mountainside, feels cold in my hands. I wrap my fingers around it and breathe in. The campfire glows smokily in the centre of our circle, and I feel rather than see the faces of the people I have spent these last two weeks with, people who, like this place, have crept into my heart.
“My time here is drawing to a close,” I say, speaking slowly, “and it’s been an interesting journey. Time has contacted here; so much has happened in such a short time. So I say thank you, to you all, to those who came before you,to those who will come after, and especially to those who are here now. Thank you for your open hearts and friendly faces. Ho!”
“Ho!” the circle responds.
I pass the stone along, now a little warmer from my palms. As it passes from hand to hand, giving the holder the opportunity to share, to speak about their time here, and the rest of us the opportunity to listen, the stone grows warmer. Our expressions of deep gratitude grow too; for each of us, whether as a guest, workshop leader, staff member or volunteer, have felt the joy and connectivity of being part of a community, of being part of something bigger.
I have spent these last two weeks at Kalikalos, a holistic community in the village of Kissos, high up in the mountains of Pelion, northern Greece. I joined the community as a staff volunteer, helping others to keep the centre running smoothly. Kalikalos is the vision project of one man who lived in communities for some years before embarking on co-creating one of his own in a warm place.
Kalikalos hosts many workshops and retreats over the season, but it is not a hotel. Guests, just like the staff and volunteers, help out in the kitchen to prepare our communal meals and clean up, as well as in the garden. Visitors may also lead early morning yoga or meditation sessions.
The gratitude that I feel for being here comes from sharing a home for a time. It also comes from the opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level, to work with them and get to know them, to listen to their stories, to support them, and to turn to them when I have needed support. Daily tasks, then, become a pleasure because they bring a smile to someone else’s face.
I am also grateful for the chance to spend time in this place, at the edge of a village on the densely forested mountain slopes of Pelion, with a view of the healing sea far below. I have watched the sun rise over the water, I have felt the clouds roll in and rain thicken the air, I have seen the orange glow of the full moon reflected in the sea, I have rejoiced in each sunny day.
I am somewhere else now. I have said my goodbyes to the place and the people, but I will continue to digest and process my time at Kalikalos; these are the kind of stories that I will still be telling in years to come.
Stacey Nel, Capetown S. Africa – Girl on a Wander