The Chronicles of a Rep in Ibiza and Charlie the cat

 

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View of Santa Eulalia from the apartment balcony

My favourite destination in all my years being a holiday rep was Ibiza!

Prior to going, my only image was of huge nightclubs, dancing til dawn , Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs, Paris Hilton and tons of other celebs who frequented the island during the height of summer.

Ibiza is the one place that would be considered a reps dream destination! Who doesn’t want to drink and party until sun rise…or watch the world’s BEST sunset sipping sangria with hundreds and thousands of people from all over the world? Ibiza is pure heaven…and I recommend any newbie to consider a placement there at least once in their career.

All of that partying is truly wonderful…all of that sunset-watching is enjoyable…but there comes a point where all of that becomes monotonous and all you really prefer to do is rent a dvd and snuggle up with your cat….

As a rep you are definitely NOT allowed to have a pet in your accommodation. It is one of the rules that is clearly stipulated…right next to “No smoking” and “NO chewing gum” in uniform. But there are ways to get away with smoking in uniform, or chewing the odd gum or two…and strangely enough, there are ways to get around the whole “pet” thing too. *cue mischievous smile*.

During this particular season, I worked in Santa Eulalia in Ibiza and it was a great location that was a little bigger than a village, but smaller than a town. It was a mix of modern, contemporary and old. It had a great marina, cute little beach bars, fabulous restaurants from Thai to Italian, unique bars and overall, it had a wonderful feeling about it. Because there wasn’t anywhere for me to live that particular season, I had to share an apartment with the team leader in the area. For anyone who doesn’t already know this, the team leader accommodation is literally 1 step down from a manager’s accommodation…so yes…for the first time since becoming a rep, I was living in what most would call the “lap of luxury”. A 6th floor apartment overlooking the marina and the sea, within easy walking distance to all my hotels and amenities – and close enough to KFC/Pizza Hut so they could deliver!! Thats right people…KFC delivered!!! Talk about landing in paradise! My dreams had come true that season for sure – I got Ibiza as my placement (which, along with Cyprus, was damn hard to get), I got the area where I wanted to work…and as an added bonus, I got to live in a fabulously furnished apartment with a proper kitchen, comfy sofas, a TV and DVD player and the perfect view! Oh….and did I mention that the DVD rental store was 2 doors away from my apartment – right next to the little shop where my roomie and I bought all our snacks and drinks for our continual movie nights? Yeah…thats right people…I WAS IN HEAVEN!!!066

Finally having an accommodation that felt more like “home” instead of a prison cell, was certainly a refreshing change. But as anyone knows, a home never feels quite right without a pet. Do not get mistaken, I was definitely not going to go out of my way to break any rules by purchasing a pet…and I certainly was not actively looking for one under rocks and in bushes…but if one happened to stumble upon my path, I definitely wasn’t planning on thinking too hard or too long about calling it my own.

As luck would have it, this one fateful morning I headed to my usual duties in a hotel which had approximately 4 guests, and it was here that I simply sat and stared at the walls hoping and praying for the time to end. As I saw the time drawing to a close, I breathed a sigh of relief and quickly packed up and rushed out the entrance. Lo and behold, there he was! He was the sweetest, friendliest cat you could ever imagine. He was just sitting there, waiting for any random person to show him affection…so I obliged. Now of course, I did not immediately think about claiming him as my own since cats have absolutely no loyalty, and this cat probably wandered off because he was tired of his owners. I petted the little creature and I headed off in the direction of my next hotel – not giving it another thought.

After the usual afternoon siesta, I made my way back to the hotel where I had seen the cat – and as I walked up the stairs of the entrance there he was again. Just sitting there, looking all lonely and sad. I bid him hello, gave him a courteous rub on the head and walked into the hotel. My interest was piqued now…why was this cat hanging out at the entrance of this hotel that barely had any guests in it…especially any guests that would even give him the time of day. Strange I thought. And even stranger when I asked the reception staff if anyone knew who the cat belonged to and all of them said they didn’t know. Hmmmm.

Once my shift had ended I knew what I had to do…I was going to commit the ultimate sin…I was going to kidnap the cat! I knew that this was what I had to do…the cat was probably looking for a new owner…and I decided I was up for the task! I scooped the cat up, and since I didn’t have a box, I stuff the cat into my work bag…which was pretty tricky. The cat was very friendly on the ground…but funnily enough he did not take too kindly to being kidnapped and stuffed in a bag that was certainly not suited for catnapping purposes. Now this is where it got really tricky – the walk from that hotel to my apartment was a bit of a distance – about 20 mins to be exact. Try adding extra weight to that distance and having to fight with a wriggling bag and look normal in the process…that 20 minutes felt like hours! The other part of the plan I forgot to factor in was that I had to visit one more hotel before the end of my evening shift. YUP! A cat screaming from my bag, trying to act normal and praying to god that a manager didn’t decide to “pass by” had me on edge. I was obviously NOT about to finish my duties for the evening…instead I was headed back to the apartment with my furry captive and help him settle into his new home instead!

How I managed that 20 minute walk without appearing insane I am not sure…how I made it into my apartment building and in the elevator without encountering my neighbours I have no idea…and I have no clue what was going through my mind when I finally sat on the sofa and opened my bag to release my captive. All I knew is I was SUPER excited for my roommate to come home so that she could meet our new pet for the season!

Yeah…good question…how was I so sure how my roommate (my team leader, by the way) was going to feel about breaking the rules and having a cat…in an APARTMENT on the 6th floor?? Yeah…potato patato, tomato, tamato…who cared! What was there not to love about a purring ball of fluff!

Thankfully when my roommate returned home that evening she was so excited! We set about naming our new friend and eventually decided on Charlie. Charlie was our new pal and he accepted us as his new owners, friend and family. Charlie was a well trained apartment cat. He had no desire to run through the front door and make a bolt for the outside world. He was happy chilling on the sofa or perched precariously on the balcony ledge…which really made my stomach lurch. Even when the other reps came around, they were totally not bothered about Charlie either. It was as if Charlie was meant to be with us…and that was the routine of our summer season. 098

Now, the downside of any season is that it must come to an end…but before it does, certain things can occur:

  • Your roommate has an accident and the manager comes to visit
  • The owner of the apartment is selling it and must show potential buyers around

 

Ahh yes…the 2 most agonizing occasions, especially when one has broken the sacred commandment between rep and company, which of course means the company has broken that rule outlined by the owner of the property! I knew I was well and truly FUCKED! Now any sensible rep would probably have done the obvious…thank the cat for the happy memories and wonderful cuddles and then dump its ass on the street and hope that another kind soul finds it. Well, I did not do that…instead I bribed the cat with food and snacks and locked its ass in my wardrobe and prayed that it did not get frightened and start mewing. As my luck would have it, it started mewing and I started coughing! I think the owner of the apartment thought I was a frigging nutcase…or seriously ill…he did grab his potential buyer and bid a hasty retreat out of there before either of them caught my cooties.

Despite those 2 incidents, it was a happy occasion and Charlie was great comfort to me especially when my roommate had to return to Scotland for about a month and a half due to her illness. Charlie kept me company and for the first time as a rep abroad in a strange country, I finally felt like I was “home”. Saying goodbye to Charlie at the end of the season was VERY emotional, and my roommate and I made sure that he went to a good home. I still think about Charlie, and thanks to him, I will always remember my adventures in Ibiza. 068

 

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Hold on to the ‘driftwood’

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There are moments in your life when the fog rolls in, and you have no idea why or where it came from. The thickness is so stifling you can’t see or think straight. There is nothing you can do except wait…wait for it to pass…wait for clarity…just wait.

It’s in these dark moments that you feel that all your hard work and your perseverance thus far was in vain. You were convinced you were making headway along the Journey of Life… the days were bright and the optimism was high. The path was clear of obstacles, and the climb to the top seemed so easy. Until…until something flipped a switch which causes great storm clouds to start rolling in. The thunderstorm begins and heavy rains cause landslides along your path. You go from joy to unbelievable anger and confusion because you had no idea it was sitting on the horizon waiting for an opportunity to strike.

These dark moments seem unnatural in the grand scheme. You begin to question if self sabotage is the root. You start to wonder if there are old wounds that need healing in order to continue. You begin to wonder if life is simply a cruel trickster who lulls you into a false sense of joy…only to then pull the rug from under your feet as a reminder: earth is a horrid, painful place where struggling is the norm.

Whichever it is…whichever answer you arrive at…one thing is certain…you cannot face those dark days alone. You need someone to reach out a hand so you can simply hold on for dear life as you ride the tumultuous wave, frightened and lost. That ‘hand’ cannot shield you from your thoughts or your pain… it cannot ride the wave for you…it cannot, and will never, be on the same journey as you. That ‘hand’ can only serve as a reminder that the storm will pass, the fog will clear and the sun has to shine again. That ‘hand’ is that piece of driftwood bobbing on the harsh sea which you must cling to in an effort to keep your head above water. It is the stability when you cannot touch the bottom… or clueless as to the direction you will drift next. That ‘hand’ is the reason you keep breathing, keep fighting…

It doesn’t matter who we are, where we are going, or what journey we are on…these dark stormy days will take a hold of us and cause us to evaluate our every thought, our decisions, and even our direction. None of it will make sense! You will feel helpless, tired…you will want to give up. You will want to allow the water to consume you and allow the fog to envelope you in its arms…you will become frustrated by the stream of consciousness that creates havoc in your normally organized mind. There comes a point when you will convince yourself that you just can’t go on. Why continue? Why bother? Who cares?

You have a choice in that moment…let go of the driftwood and sink to the depths, or cling to it for dear life and trust that it will play its part in the storm…which is to  keep you afloat and provide that feeling of security and safety.

When those dark days descend (which they will), don’t be afraid to hold onto your piece of ‘driftwood’…we all have one.

Finding my twin flame

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From I was a little girl, I would read every fairytale ever written and daydream about prince charmings, knights in shining armour and fabulous hero’s that would swoop in to save the day. As I grew older I held on steadfast to the belief in the “happily ever after” concept, and hoped and prayed that one day I would stumble upon my prince.

After multitudes of failed relationships under my belt, my belief of the fairytale soon waned and I too (like the majority of the world) became blasé about that so-called “happy ending”. Did it ever really exist? Was it simply a story for little girls? Or was it only reserved for a special set of people? Whichever was the case, my childhood dream was dwindling fast, and those fabulous daydreams were looking more like nightmares.

Regardless of my continual search, my heart was still full of love and hope that the next one would be “the one”. However, somehow the Universe had other plans for my heart …6 years of utter turmoil from losing 4 very close and personal family members caused a wall to build, and my heart to be locked behind a cage. I took that key and I threw it away…4 times my heart was ripped from my chest –  I honestly had nothing left to give.
I turned my back on fairy tales, and I resigned myself to the fact that my only happy ending would be one that involved me, and only me. I cried to the Universe and told it that I no longer cared. I didn’t need to love anyone except the beauty that the Universe surrounded me with. I was tired, broken and frail. I turned to myself and made my plan to forgo searching and just accept that “true love” would not exist for me in this lifetime…I was meant to learn other things…and that is exactly what I proceeded to do.

I started a spiritual journey of retrospection and growth. I embraced Life and its blessings, and I learned to accept and love myself instead of trying to love someone else. I meditated and soared to heights that some people can only dream about. I started reading books that opened my mind not my heart. I soon understood that the fairy tales were never about finding love, they were about BEING love.

In December 2014 I wrote a blog entitled “Is this ‘real’ love that I am feeling” …little did I know that by simply BEING love…love would be waiting around the corner, and the answers I posed to the Universe back then would be answered within a few months.

This love is not one of giddy skipped heartbeats, it is not one of excitement and fascination, it is not overwhelming and anxious. It is not the hearing of harps or the feeling of fluttering stomachs. It is a love not felt by the heart, but a love felt by the soul. It is a love that has no words and no sound. It is a love that just exists…just as the sun rises and the water flows. It is a love that loses track of time and simply blows like the breeze. It is a love that has no constraints, needs or wants. It is a love that has its own energy. It is a love that needs no explanations or validations. It is a love that simply ‘is’. It is the love where two souls connect and there are no words, or not enough words, to portray the magnitude of feelings.

Just like the breeze blows and the sea ebbs, he flew into my life on the winds of change. I had no idea that I  would meet someone who would know me better than I know myself. I had no idea I would meet someone who could look into my eyes and see my thoughts. Not for one second did I think I would meet someone who I knew with every fiber of my being was a version of me in male form. This perfect creature cares not about my past,  he only wants to be my future…and without a doubt, I want to be his.

Who would have thought that this wonderful man would end up to be my hero, my prince charming…my fairy tale romance. Who could have thought that he was out there all along waiting for the alignment of the Universe so that he could stride into my life and sweep me off my feet. He is my best friend, my lover, my family, and above all he is my twin flame.

Holiday Reps are humans too actually!! 

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R.I.P to the innocent, slain for just being human!

Considering what has transpired recently in Tunisia, I think it is only right for me to highlight the areas that guests do not see and definitely do not know about Holiday Reps.

Rep training is very basic – it teaches the principles of the company, the importance of customer service, the sales techniques, the do’s and don’ts of representing the company… and it touches very casually on the issues that could arise in resort – such as a death or a dispute.

At no point during the weeks training course does it cover terrorism threats, bomb threats, floods, gangs, mob violence, drunk and disorderlies, rapes, deaths (accidental or natural), delays, strikes, natural disasters – the list is endless and countless. I will be honest, on rep training I had no idea that anything bad could happen – and if it did, I naively thought that someone else would be handling whatever disaster would occur…WRONG!

Once that contract is signed, a rep is now the face of the company. They must wear that uniform with pride and they must take every form of battering, beating and abuse that is hurled at them about the company they represent. Reps are the ones who must paint a smile on their face knowing full well they are hated by the guests who have decided to go on holiday and moan about EVERYTHING! Each rep strides with confidence and exudes an air of authority (even though they are quivering in their shoes). They ARE the company – they must never for one second look frightened or shocked. Every incident is supposed to be a walk in the park, just another day in paradise…WRONG!

Yes, reps ARE the company…but they are human too. They too have emotions and they too can hurt and bruise easily. They too can be shocked, frightened…afraid. They too get tired, lonely and upset. Guess what – reps are superheroes! Each and every one of them – they must quell their own emotions, shut down their own feelings and don a mask that is professional, calm and reassuring. To you as the guest, they come across aloof and standoffish. They may even appear pompous and up their own arses – but guess what, they are scared shitless just as much as you are in a situation that is way beyond their control and the control of the company they represent.

Over the recent days I have read Facebook statuses from ex-reps who have mentioned being in resort during flash floods, terrorist bomb threats, island wide bus strikes, flight delays from 9/11, natural deaths etc. They have all shared a slice of their experiences in order to show the rest of the world (who have no idea what it is like to be in that position) what it is like to be responsible for the wellbeing of hundreds and thousands of VERY scared human beings.

I have also read various messages from holidaymakers ranting and raving about Thomson this, and Thomas Cook that. They have ranted about getting their money back and needing more information. Guests in the resort of Tunisia have responded by saying they can’t see any reps, and things like, “this is the worst service ever”. Family members of holidaymakers in Tunisia have cursed about the lack of communication, the slow response time, and how disgusted they are with all the travel companies for their complete lack of effort during a time like this.

I am appalled, disgusted and horrified at the people who have shown no remorse or concern for the team of reps, managers, hotel staff, cabin crew, ground crew, airport staff, bus drivers, taxi men, police personnel, hospital workers, random strangers – all working tirelessly to keep THOUSANDS of holiday makers calm, safe and secure. For one minute you haven’t thought that all those people are just as frightened, just as tired and just as shocked. You haven’t for one minute thought that those people would like nothing more than to go hide under their bed? Are you being serious when you are demanding answers from a team who can only work as fast as the information they are given? Do you honestly think holiday companies walk around with genies in bottles waiting for any sign of trouble? For God’s sake stop living in the ‘me,me,me’ bubble and look around! The issue in Tunisia has a knock on effect for every holiday maker whether in the UK or already scattered around Europe – planes have to be diverted, airports have to shift their ENTIRE flight plan, staff have to be called in, flights have to be cancelled, holiday makers in other resorts like Spain, Greece, Turkey etc, now have to be delayed in returning home so that their plane can be used.

It is not about YOU, it is not about ME…it is about the men, woman, children and ALL the staff involved in that incident, having to witness images of bodies shot in cold blood, strewn across the beach or lying lifeless in the lounge chairs. It’s the sounds of crying, screaming, wailing and moaning. It’s the weeping of a wife as she cradles the body of her husband covered in blood. It’s the child who will live the rest of his life having nightmares and being petrifiecebf58a4-24d9-45b7-975f-08c97507f652-620x372d of his own shadow. It is the mother laying face down in the pool of her own blood as her children search frantically for her amid the thousands of scared faces. It is the authorities who must carry away bodies with no identification – so that someone…anyone…can come and claim rightful ownership.

As you sit in front of the television and curse blue murder because Thomson won’t answer your call about the holiday you have booked for Turkey NEXT YEAR…stop being an arsehole and imagine how you would feel lying in a pool of your own family members blood screaming for help.

The only thing you should be cursing about is when will we, as a nation of human beings, put an end to the animalistic treatment of the innocent. When will we – as a thinking, awakened people – stop believing that religion is still the answer! Look at what ‘religion’ has caused!

Divine Feminine

feminineThroughout my 35 years on this planet I have come to the realization that women can be devious, conniving, jealous little minxes.

We as a species, have the destructive capacity to tear each other apart with one look or one snide remark. We can spend our lives attacking each other and assigning blame before looking in the mirror at our own faults. We can judge each other based on looks and we are quick to hate because the other person is different. We can spend our days dissecting our bodies and pointing out our flaws to anyone who will listen.

I’m so fat

My face is full of acne

My hair isn’t straight/curly enough

I have cellulite

My breasts are too small/big

My bottom is too wobbly

We have a tendency to look at ourselves with ridicule and disdain, all the while seeing beauty on the other side of the fence – and hating them for it. We are constantly comparing our bodies and our accomplishments with the woman next door. We often display signs of disgust if we are confronted by someone who appears to be “better” than us.

Women have the potential to be evil little beings having lost sight of what makes us unique and beautifully imperfect. We have forgotten that we are the glue that holds the balance in the universe. We have discarded the fact that we are healers, nurturers, carers, peacemakers, creators. We have turned our back on our true inheritance from Life and become destroyers, fighters, haters, war mongers.

As nations look at the events taking place all over the world…wars, destruction, racism, murders, rapes and total mayhem, we sit glued to our TVs asking ourselves how did this happen? Where did we go wrong? How did mankind become so evil? When will it all change?
The answer is quite simple…and it is staring every woman in her face as she looks in the mirror…we are the true key to renewal and restoration. We are ‘Mother Earth’ incarnate in flesh and blood.

For centuries men have been the fighters, the hunters, the gatherers. However, even though they will reluctantly be at the forefront of wars, they will easily turn around and be the best of friends with their so called enemy. Men do not harbour grudges with their brethren. They do not exhibit jealous tendencies. They are quick to praise and raise their colleague knowing they desire to aspire to the highest heights. They do not engage in idle gossip. Men respect the ‘bro code’ and are happy being a wing man if a friend needs help. They happily keep deep dark secrets in order to protect their friend.

Men are content and secure in their own bodies and everything they do to attain physical changes is for the betterment of their health or their own psyche. Men bond over their passions and can engage in idle chatter with a total stranger with ease and confidence (even if they are the shy and retiring type).

Men relish simple pleasures and feel proud when they can provide for their family based on their hard work and perseverance.

Women are none of those things. We are quick to bicker, back stab and claw at anyone who we feel is standing in our way. We are quick to anger and blame it on hormones. We are vindictive and conspire to annihilate any other woman who dares to stand in our way or look in our direction for too long. We are jealous and suspicious of friendships and we trust no one – not even our so-called best friends.

How and when did women morph into such beasts? What caused us to feel the need to become crabs in a barrel and eat each other alive simply to prove we are better, stronger, prettier and skinnier than another?

Women have lost sight of their role in the universe and have tried to be men with very little success. They have caused men to feel belittled and emasculated. They have turned themselves into warriors instead of being the heart that men try hard to woo. Women have abandoned their compassion fofemininityr cruelty, they have traded their creativity for sterility and their understanding for indifference.

I’m not saying that women  should be strapped to the kitchen sink and open their legs in the bedroom. I’m not saying that women are only good to birth a football team and do nothing except to be on the PTA. Women are strong, ingenious multi-taskers. They possess the innate ability to create something from nothing. They are teachers, guidance counselors, nurses and dedicated to the cause they believe in. Women are the epitome of perseverance.

Being a single mother, I am trying to plow my way through the minefield of balance – from parenting, working, building and maintaining a social life. I surprise myself how dedicated I can be and how much power I possess. I juggle a part time job, freelancing gigs, wedding planning and being a mom. When I am asked how I do it…I simple say “I just do”. I have to play the role of both a man and a woman, all the while finding that perfect balance – I do it with ease without sacrificing my creativity, my tenderness, my compassion and above all without relinquishing my dignity.

I guess you could say I am too busy to look in the mirror and critique my looks, or bitch about anyone elses’ looks. As far as I am concerned my cellulite and baby belly doesn’t control my creative abilities to plan a wedding for a complete stranger. My acne doesn’t  make me a bad nurturer
to my daughter, nor does my bad hair day ruin my forgiving nature. It really boils down to the fact that I refuse to partake in the bitching and backbiting. I refuse to allow myself to degrade a fellow woman who has her own insecurities, her own demons and her own ambitions. I refuse to allow myself to add to the pain and suffering of this planet. We were not created to judge anyone. We were put here to be what a man CANNOT be…a Divine Feminine.

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Its Ok to admit when you’re NOT ok

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We all have our personal issues… demons that we wrangle in the deepest recesses of our minds.
Mine? … I question my ability as a mother each day. Friends tell me I’m doing great and I’m managing just fine. Truth?… I feel like I am floundering in a raging pool of perpetual hormones. I’m tired, strung out and in no mood to even have another human being anywhere near me.

I get irate when I hear “mummy” uttered more than three times. I lose my cool when I can’t be left alone for thirty minutes simply to think. I have no patience for stupidity or ignorance. I become distressed and tense if there is uncontrollable mess in my space. I am an impatient, neat freak introvert who has issues with noise and excessive energy.

I ask myself if I am a direct product of my childhood…but while my father was the noise control police and my mother was the neat freak, there was a sort of balance where my childhood was fun yet I was expected to have responsibilities. I would never say that I was screamed at or punished as much as I scream and punish my child.

I berate myself everyday when I hear about parents playing games, snuggling up and doing fun projects with their kids. I wish I could do that…but I just can’t bring myself to. I am tired and I need to have some ‘me’ time. I want to be left completely alone with my own thoughts. Being a parent is more like being an acrobat. I am juggling to keep our life afloat from a financial side. I am wearing the trousers and fighting the current with the rest of the crabs. I carry the stress of my day to day existence like a backpack full of rocks. I can’t for one second take it off and rest because there are neverending bills to pay, groceries to buy and incidentals to worry about.

How can I truly be a parent and fulfill my duties as a mother with the burden I carry day in and day out? I lay in bed tossing and turning praying for the sandman to blow sleep dust in my face….to no avail. I worry about the future…I can’t help it. I try to meditate, I try to pray and I sure as hell try to “let go and let God”. Some days I’m on top of the world and the rest of time I feel like the ground is crumbling and my fucking backpack is dragging me down into the pit of despair.

I don’t want to be the screaming stress- head mom who makes her child cower in a corner. I don’t want to lose my patience over a simple spelling error because I’m freaking out over the expensive school fee and questioning if I’m sending her to the right school. I don’t want to turn into a red faced raging bull if she spills a cup of juice or refuses to eat the food prepared because I know how much I spent at the supermarket, and I can’t afford anything to be wasted.

Ok fine… I admit it…I’m NOT Ok! I may appear strong like an ox and resilient like a mule on the outside…but I cry into my pillow under the cover of darkness and die a little each day. I have lost my youthful sparkle and I can feel myself withering. I’m scared….there I said it…I’m scared I made a mistake being a parent! Judge me if you will…but I’m scared I will ruin my child and her childhood because I’m spending more time trying to make ends meet. I’m trying hard to make sense of my own purpose in this universe while trying to to raise another human being in the process.

I don’t expect a lot and I don’t desire much. I simply ask Life to intercede and help me. Help me to remain calm while the boat is rocking, stay focused while I try to find a secure foothold in the storm and stay strong while the burdensome backpack tries to weigh me down.

I know that this too shall pass and sun will shine on me once again…but for now I say to anyone fighting their own personal demons: the first step to fixing a situation is admitting there is a problem…its Ok to admit when you’re NOT Ok.

Repping in Rhodes Island – good, the bad…the near death. 

After my first introduction to Greece I knew that I felt a connection to the people and the culture. I felt like I belonged.  I knew that my 3rd summer was going to have to be on a Greek island. Thank goodness the Travel Gods heard my prayers..rhodos island.I was headed to Rhodes for 6 months and I was chuffed to bits.

I’m not sure why I always felt I had been caught off guard when I arrive in Greece. Somehow I manage to forget that the toilet paper has to go in the bins, there are no washing machines and accommodation is as basic as a broom cupboard. I forget these major issues…yet I still want to go! Is that glutton for punishment or simply embracing a past life? Whichever it was, I was thrilled to be in Rhodes like an excited child in a candy store!

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Lindos

“Rodos” (as the Greeks called it) is an island which has one of the most infamous places in all of Greece…Lindos! Such a beautiful picturesque whitewashed village perched on the side of a hill with its little cobbled stoned walkways, quaint shops, boutique bars interspersed with traditional tavernas. The beach located in the cove below was probably the best on the island…white sand and crystal clear water that lapped gently onto the shore line. Sounds rather glorious doesn’t it? One small, tiny, itsy little downside to Lindos…it was the HOTTEST place on earth in summer. The temperature would reach to over 100 degrees….in the shade!! If you were brave enough to withstand the heat on that side of the island… Your car tyres may not have. There were instances where the heat was so bad car tyres would literally melt. Yup…some would have said “hell”…but since I wasn’t located on that side of the island… I was in heaven!

The one time I did go to Lindos for a night out with a bunch of reps, I got so blindingly drunk in one of the bars I ended up puking all over the beautiful cobbled stone streets in front of the locals, climbed over some wall, and had to be escorted back to a reps apartment where I passed out until morning. So my one time in Lindos was scarred and I was far too embarrassed to show my face down there again.

Rhodes is a very historical island covered in huge amounts of ruins and old temples. There is amazingly dramatic scenery, picturesque views and overwhelmingly lovely people. There are trips to the nearby island of Symi – home to the worlds finest sponge divers – yes…thats right…’sponge’ which you use to bathe with, originated at the bottom of the ocean. This was a fascinating eye opener for me…learn something new everyday! Not only are they renowned for their sponge diving abilities, but also their shrimp…YUM! Symi shrimp has got to be the most delicious crustacean I have ever had the pleasure of eating in its entirety.

For those people who like cheap bargains such as cheap cigarettes and even cheaper dvd’s, then Turkey is pretty much a hop, skip and a jump away by ferry. Ok…let me rephrase that…on a map it looks like a hop, skip and a jump…in reality it is a stomach churning 1 hour journey that feels more like 3 days. That particular day we went across to Turkey was AWFUL! It was raining, the sky was dark, it was freezing and the waves were strong enough and big enough to rock and roll this giant sized catamaran/ferry boat thingy.

My first 3 months in Rhodes was definitely not hunky dory. My first couple of months was in Kalithea – where I couldn’t drive, so I had to rely on my colleague to get me to my 2 hotels. I was quite close to Falaraki – but the 2 nights I went out there for the entire summer was definitely not all it was cracked up to be. After 2 months there was a ‘rep shift around’ – which meant I was transferred to a hotel in the middle of freaking nowhere in Kolymbia…my view was a mountain.  I was actually the one to beg for a transfer…luckily one of the newbies decided she couldn’t handle the job and left…the Universe answered my prayer and I was moved closer to civilization.

For the remainder of the summer I was based near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rhodes Old Town, in the resort town called Ixia. I was repping 4 hotels that were located along the single main road that led around the island. It was a great spot actually. My hotels were all in a row, there were reps from other companies based nearby (who I got on really well with), and there was a cafe a few doors down from my hotels that served awesome food and had English channels so we could catch up on soaps and shows like XFactor.

I lived in one of my hotels…which was pretty awesome…only from the point of view that I could sneak off to my room early and get reception to call me if guests needed me. Bonus! What wasn’t so great was being on the sane floor as guests…I would literally have to become James Bond every time I walked in and out of my room. I would come out of the elevator and pretend I was delivering a note to my door. I would pause….wait…look around…and quickly open the door and run inside. Coming out was kinda the same. I would stand at my door quietly, crack it open, take a quick peek and bolt out of there like a bat out of hell. The hotel staff used to laugh at me and my stealth moves. I’m sure I entertained them a lot.

Living in a hotel had its perks. I had a clean room. Fresh linens and towels delivered once a week, free meals available on the top floor restaurant, an abundance of friends (all the staff in the hotel), TV with a couple American channels and not very far to go once my day was finished. However the downside was major… No cooking facility…except a kettle. No place to hang wet clothes after hand washing them and absolutely no privacy since every staff member knew your comings and goings at all times during the day and night.

Rhodes

Rhodes Old Town

Life in Ixia was quite peaceful. I enjoyed having meals with my colleague (LT) once a week at a taverna that quickly became our regular dining spot. We would regale each other with stories of our guests antics and we would compare notes on our sales techniques and customer service approach. Sometimes we would go to Bar Street and have our own mini bar crawl. Life in Ixia was quiet because we were the only reps in the area since everyone was spread out across the island.

To be perfectly honest, my season in Rhodes passed without much of an issue… until the end…when I actually waved goodbye to the entire team and watched the hotel I lived in, close down for the summer. It was not by choice I was staying….I had been too much of a procrastinator when it came to to renewing my passport. Now I was literally stranded on a Greek island which was now officially closed for the summer!

For the duration of my stay on the island, I had to find somewhere else to call my temporary home. I had no idea when the passport would turn up – but I knew I needed it to arrive asap. In the meantime, I had to arrange an alternative flight to the UK via Athens (with a 6 hour layover) and I had to find a friend who could pick me up in the UK and allow me to stay with them until I could find someone else to stay with until the winter season started. Sigh!!! What a rigmarole!

Naturally I was a rep…which meant I had luggage…and lots of it! How on earth was I going to get my entire life back to the UK without incurring major costs that would require the sale of my left kidney and first born child?? Luckily enough a local friend of mine suggested a grand idea – and for anyone who doesn’t know about this – its so SIMPLE… I posted my 3 over sized suitcases to the UK for a fraction of the cost of being charged the overweight fee! (It took about 3 weeks – but if you can wait, then I definitely recommend it).

Eventually, after much panicking and worry I finally got my passport in my hand! I can barely describe the relief I felt. After spending nearly 3 weeks eating subway sandwiches in a hotel room, nothing felt greater than being able to confirm my flight out. This was no longer a holiday destination where I was living my dream – the weather had taken a turn for the worse as winter was drawing in quite fast, and it felt like I had entered a nightmare.

I went to bed the night before my flight feeling relieved that I was actually leaving… but I was quite anxious about where I was going to stay and if my friend would be able to pick me up.  I remember quite clearly that I woke up the next morning and my ear was completely blocked and hurting me! I panicked – because I knew that if this had happened to a guest I would have strongly advised they got an all clear from the doctor before flying. Here I was with liquid now draining from my ear, and the mere thought of going to a doctor to be told I couldn’t fly was NOT high on my list of priorities. There was no way in hell I was going to be told I couldn’t fly – I knew whatever I did next would have been a huge risk….

I remember landing in Athens a few hours later unable to hear a sound out of the still draining ear, and in rather excruciating pain. I went to the pharmacy got some drops and cotton, and simply prayed because there wasn’t much else I could do. The layover was the worst part of the entire journey, because this is the point when a raging fever started. I felt delirious, exhausted and so unbelievably cold. Every ounce of energy was starting to leave my body slowly as I waited patiently for my flight to be called. All I wanted to do was sleep. My eyes were burning me, my throat was dry… I knew I couldn’t fall asleep otherwise I would miss the flight. Thankfully after a torturous 6 hours the flight started boarding and I slumped into my seat like a rag doll feeling rather frightened and unsure what was going on with my ear as it continued to drain a funny colour.

I barely remember landing in the UK, waiting for my friend (RG) to pick me up or reaching her parents house. I know I made small talk but I kept dipping in and out of consciousness. I know that by the time I got to her parents house I was burning up and I literally passed out. I remained delirious for what felt like weeks. I couldn’t eat or drink anything…it made me puke. I was burning up on the inside and I had made peace with my Maker…I was just upset my mom didn’t know what was happening to me and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

God bless RG’s mum for taking care of me with cold rags, ice, medication and a trip to the doctors….once the fever had broken. Turns out I had contracted a rather serious ear infection which had damaged my eardrum. I was lucky it hadn’t ruptured…but I was completely deaf in one ear for 2 months….worse feeling ever!

My time in Rhodes was wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable – but my procrastination proved I had to manage my time properly, get organized and stay focused. I changed a lot after that incident – I definitely made sure to check my passport expiry date every year…just in case I had another brush with death.

This too shall pass

winston

Winston (Kapoo)

People walk into your life for a season, a reason or a lifetime. Each person has an influence or an impact on your character and your personality. Some help to mold you into the person you become and some are a sign post for who you want to be. I have had the pleasure of encountering so many beautiful souls who have made a lasting impression on me and who have crawled beneath my skin to become more than just ‘friends’…they have become family.

My life has been blessed. Each step I took along a path which seemed unclear and shrouded by darkness, these wonderful souls helped to light the way with their kindness, love and comfort.

I would not call myself religious. I am a spiritual being trying to make sense of this crazy world. I’m simply trying to connect with like minded individuals who I believe are part of my ‘soul group’. We are able to speak the same language effortlessly and easily without disdain, intolerance or sheer ignorance. We are connected by a higher power and even though we are not on the same journey, we are all on the same path of higher level of understanding.

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Carol and Bryan (Nanny and Grandad)

As I lay in my bed last night doing a little meditation, I had a brief flashback to a time merely 3 months ago when I held the hand of a man I grew to call my step dad….

I was roused out of my sleep at 3am by the nurse who told me to come quickly because my step dad was on his final ascent to the heavens. I remember feeling a huge burden of relief knowing that this was it…he was finally out of his misery. 2 years of pain and 6 months of absolute suffering was coming to an end, and for that I was indeed thankful.

As I walked into the room and I sat on the bed, I held his hand and rubbed his face. He was moaning so loudly with this blank expression on his face. He was looking at me as if he was trying to talk to me…but couldn’t. I kept telling him we would be Ok. Everything was going to be Ok. He needed to stop worrying and walk into the Light and allow the pain to diminish. It was a bizarre 20 mins or so as the moaning ceased, he closed his eyes and started to breathe rapidly. I was unsure if this was the actual end or simply a passing phase caused by the sickness.

It wasn’t until the nurse told me he was gone that I suddenly felt shell-shocked. He couldn’t be gone, I thought. He was only holding his breath. He would soon look at me and give me his usual reply when I asked how he was doing, “never better”. But it was not to be so, because this time, there was no reply…there was just deafening silence.

This wonderful, upstanding, kindhearted gentleman was my mothers partner for 19 years. He loved her with all his heart and soul…and in turn he loved me and my daughter with every fiber of his being. He was a man of few words and a man of even less affection…but his little Chloe was the apple of his eye and reduced him to a big soft-hearted giant. Even though he was a workaholic by nature, he made an effort to rush home every evening so he could see her before she went to bed. Chloe was a blessing for him. He knew that she was a little slice of the woman he loved so dearly, and for that reason he cherished her as if she was his own flesh and blood.

I never properly allowed myself to grieve and mourn his passing. I have spent my time trying to follow in his footsteps keeping everything going. I have ‘manned’ up to the situation and become the breadwinner. I have put my own womanly feelings aside and immersed myself in work and daily chores in an effort to keep my mind off my loss. Last night I was reminded that its not been 3 years…its only been 3 months…and its Ok to feel tired. Its Ok to feel alone. Its Ok to feel lost and confused. Its Ok to cry every time someone mentions his name. I guess I squashed my emotions when my mum died because I was pregnant, and now I’m doing the same thing because I refuse to allow myself to appear helpless.

I have had so many people rally around me offering support…some I have ignored, some I have thanked graciously and some I have opened up to. Weird thing is, no one will ever understand the deep pain and the fresh wound that I try to bandage each day. I meditate, I breathe it out, I release the thoughts and energy into the universe, I burn incense and I pray. I pray everyday for strength. I pray everyday that I make it to the next day. I pray that I can remain calm and unnerved. I pray for peace of mind and determination. Above all, I pray that I will be ok.

I thank God that Winston walked into our lives all those years ago, and I thank Life for blessing me and Chloe with the most amazing man who was our lighthouse in the dark. Unfortunately that lighthouse glow is now diminished…and as I sit in this boat bobbing on the ocean of Life, I try hard to steer me and my daughter to safety and away from the treacherous obstacles. I sit in the boat and I reminisce about all the people I have loved and lost, those who have been my rock when I needed it the most, and those who continue to offer a dim glow which remains as constant as the stars in the sky.

I know that my feelings of distress and loneliness are but fleeting because… “this too shall pass”.

“Mothers Day’ is a commercialized farce

Mothers-DayI know that this blog is long over do – considering Mothers Day was 16 days ago…I think I just got side tracked being a mom! *smile*

“Mother’s Day”… is a celebration of what? To this day I am unsure what “Mother’s Day” is really about. Is it about thanking mothers for being slaves to their children? Is it treating them to a meal to congratulate them on their patience every time the cooking was snubbed and feelings were hurt by her own flesh and blood? Is it the day that she gets pampered as recognition for all the times that she sacrificed her own dreams and her own happiness, so that her offspring were comfortable and content? How does one day out of 365days multiplied by the amount of years being alive make up for all the tantrums, spiteful words, hatred and vitriol that is thrown towards a mother?

A mother is born the moment a child comes into the world. Before that, only a woman existed – a woman who had aspirations for herself, a woman who was living her dream and living by her rules. The moment she becomes a mother she becomes a totally new person, with a new role, a new identity and a new goal. Her child comes first. Their needs must be met, and their wellbeing takes greater priority over hers. She fills her life with patience, love, nurturing, understanding, guidance, balance. She is accountable for all her actions and she must forever be the role model that her child will aspire to become.

A mother works 24/7, 365 days a year, without any holiday or days off. There is no such thing as sick leave, or quiet days. There is no such thing as privacy to bathe or eat a meal by herself. Nothing belongs to her anymore…and if she tries to hide anything, then the child with their super power of sense of smell and eye sight will find it, wear it, consume it, play with it…and inevitably destroy it. A mother owns nothing. She is simply a being that exists for her children to consume with every fiber of their body.

It is embarrassing how little emphasis is placed on mothers and all that they do. A mother should be celebrated once a week – to thank her for keeping the children alive, for not giving up and running away. A mother should be congratulated once a week for being a role model, an inspiration, a motivator and a tower of continual strength. Without mothers the world would cease to exist. Without mothers there would be no future generation. Without mothers there would be no balance.

As far as I’m concerned Mother’s Day is commercialized nonsense! It is a chance to sell useless tat disguised as a ‘Thank you’. It is a chance to capitalize on a single human beings worth. It is a chance to drag the focus away from who the day is supposed to be about, and turn it into ‘who can spend the most money’.

A mother does not want a spa treatment or a new blender. She doesn’t want chocolate or a fancy dinner. She doesn’t want flowers or a card….A mother wants some privacy! She wants to go live her dream. A mother wants to accomplish a goal she put on hold. A mother wants to eat her chocolate without hiding in a cupboard. A mother wants to throw a tantrum and not be viewed as crazy, ‘on her period’ or menopausal. A mother simply wants to be left by herself on this so called ‘Mother’s Day’ celebration.

Aunties, uncles, grandparents, god parents, sisters, brothers – all of these people have helped to mold a child. They have offered support in raising the child at some stage, and they have certainly supported the mother in her endeavors and offered assistance where it was needed.

Mother’s Day isn’t just one day – its everyday, all day…and it involves a generation of family (blood related or otherwise) members working in the background to keep everything and everyone together.

Best article blog article http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/05/fck-mothers-day-with-all-due-respect-adult/

Holiday Rep Life…the things they fail to tell you about Greece!

Life as a holiday rep is awesome! Every 3 to 6 months you are off to an exotic location lapping up the sun and living a life that dreams are made of. Your friends are envious, your parents are excited and you feel like you are on the most fabulous adventure…and being paid for it! What more could you ask for?! As a newbie, they don’t tell you much before heading to toiletresort….to be honest I think we are too overwhelmed to even ask the right questions. The only thing truly worth caring about was getting packed and getting out of the cold, dreary, wet UK as soon as freaking possible!!

Yeah…sunshine and sun bathing all year round?…that’s only a pipe dream kids! These resorts have a winter too! On numerous occasions I got caught out believing it was going to be flip flops and sleeveless tops for 6 months. Oh heavens forbid the company should give you a heads up that it is FRIGGING FREEZING in April/May, intermittently during the summer (depending on the resort), and then totally baltic by the end of August into September! My company windbreaker was my lifesaver many times – I was grateful I had two – sometimes they had to be worn together for better effect.

What was super hilarious was that reps became acclimatised quite easily – so while guests were walking around shirt less thinking the weather was fantastic, there would be a group of reps shivering in a far corner praying their shift would end so they could defrost the icicles which had formed around them.

To be honest, prior to being a rep   I stayed in nice hotels…even nice self-catering apartments in the center of the towns. Wherever I stayed was always furnished pretty nicely (even if it was basic), everything worked, it was comfortable…but who cared…it was only somewhere to have a quick kip before spending most days on the beach and most nights checking out the nightlife. Accommodation for a week or 2 wasn’t something that registered high on the radar…until becoming a rep! As a rep you are no longer a “holidaymaker”, you are now a “local”…and that means you live how they live.

Nothing quite prepared me for my first time as a rep in Greece. I had read the guide books and learnt a bit of the language…but nothing prepared me for the most bizarre situation of my entire life….putting the toilet paper in a bin instead of flushing it!!!! What the hell??? Where the hell had I ended up and what was this nonsense!? Funny thing was even though it took some getting used to, soon you fall into a routine and it becomes quite natural…until you forget that you haven’t taken out the garbage for a while…then the smell no longer seems natural. *yuck*. Yeah – don’t play the fool and think you are going to flush the toilet like most guests did – all the pipes are connected – because the drain in the middle of the bathroom is going to remind you why you shouldn’t have flushed the toilet paper in the first place!!

Greek bathrooms are altogether quite strange, if you have never encountered one before. I will admit it was my first time having to use what is known as a ‘wet room’. For those of you who have no idea what that is – it is quite trendy to have one – but not to me. The bathroom is tiled from the floor, walls and ceiling. There is one drain and it is in the centre of the room (yes…that same one!). It means that you can shower without a shower curtain (usually because there isn’t one) or without physically stepping into a bath tray or a bath – and the entire room can get soaked! To me …that’s just not high on my agenda as trendy, considering I could slip and hurt myself…and nearly did…many times.

Despite this ‘trendy’ bathroom situation in Greece, a reps accommodation is basic. By basic…I really mean empty! I never fully understood the meaning of ‘home comforts’ until I was in Greece. I had seriously taken my flat for granted in the UK. My bed, duvet, fresh sheets of all varying colours, my telly, DVDs, my oven, pots and pans, hot water, a living room…who really thinks about these things in all their wonderful glory? Who even stops to appreciate the wonders of hot water, much less access to a telephone to chat to a few friends? My first rep accommodation was NOT what I thought it was going to be. I wasn’t expecting a palace, but I certainly wasn’t expecting a 16ftx 16ft studio with a single bed, a desk being propped up by a book, a chair, walls covered in blue tack residue, a double hob hotplate (???), 1 pot (?), 1 pan (??) and a small fridge. The sheets were off white and so starched I was afraid they were going to cut me! OH…did I fail to mention there was NO HOT WATER!!!

It was as I was sat on the razor sharp sheets staring at my 4 blue tacked walls…and shivering because I had no jacket (except my poxy windbreaker), I understood why I saw other reps with TVs, duvets and George Foreman grills! They weren’t being obnoxious – they were being serious about their home comforts! I vowed that I wouldn’t go to another resort without some form of electronic device, a few posters to hide the grossness of the walls, and winter clothes!

I believe the pain I most felt was probably the lack of TV and the total lack of English channels (even when I did have a TV). How the hell was I supposed to keep up with Eastenders and Corrie – or watch the latest season of Big Brother?? I felt quite lost – because as a self-professed TV addict I now had to find other activities to keep me entertained. I guess Quiz Nights and Greek Nights at the hotels my colleagues worked at was my highlight…but I still strongly believe it was a ploy by the company…they didn’t want you hiding away having quiet time – they wanted you out and about with the guests building a presence and getting high scores on CSQ’s. *damn them and their conniving ways*

How many of you have turned to your washing machine and give thanks for its existence? How many of you have felt lost and confused when the wonderful machine decides to kick the bucket and you have to wait a couple days for a new one? Now imagine NOT having one of those wonderful machines for 6 MONTHS!! Washing was a major hurdle! It took some getting used to in my first season. I couldn’t believe there weren’t any washing machines! Shock! Horror! I was supposed to wash my clothes for 6 months BY HAND…bent over the basin on of my sink! I remember clear as day that the trick was to only wash the armpit – because sweat and deodorant is NOT a good combination at the best of times on any type of clothing…much less the uniform shirt. Ok, ok…I will own up to my dirty little secret…I don’t think I did much washing that first season…only if it was ABSOLUTELY necessary.

Upon returning to the UK after my first 6 months away as a rep – I felt that I had returned to civilization in more ways than one. I remember standing in front of the aisle of nothing but pure sugary goodness , simply mesmerized by the beauty of the chocolates, cakes, sweets…hhmmmm. 6 months away felt like a regimented sugar-free boot camp. Don’t get me wrong – the Greeks loved their syrupy sweet desserts…but they did not compare to a good bar of Cadburys chocolate, or a gooey crème egg. *yum*. Before being a rep, simple pleasures like buying jam filled donuts at Greggs or bars of chocolate from ASDA were taken for granted. Who knew that 6 months away from such delectable goodness could be so heartbreakingly traumatic?

Despite an initial rough start in a new resort with a new lifestyle to adapt to, I was quick to realise that everywhere was indeed different. Some resorts had British supermarkets, some had English TV channels, some apartments were fabulously furnished (including a washing machine), and some were simply hotel rooms with no windows. The real test as a Holiday Rep was being able to adapt and making the best of what seemed like impossible situations.

Fellow blogger “lisalovessunlife” summarised the basic things you miss as a rep – check it out. http://lisalovesunlife.com/2015/05/19/strange-things-you-miss-when-living-in-the-sun/