Living The Dream, The Dodecanese Dream
I have a dream, a fantasy
To help me through reality
And my destination makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness still another mile
I Have A Dream (Abba)
Who Would Have Thought…
I am writing this post while I relax on a daybed on my first-floor bedroom balcony. The sun is beginning to set on yet another gloriously sunny Dodecanese day. The scent of jasmine fills the evening air as I look out at views of green rolling hills abundant with olive and orange trees. The Aegean Sea is a hazy blue backdrop, with the silhouette of Symi Island and Turkey’s coastline in the far distance.
For too many recent years, I’d lie in bed at night; the duvet pulled tightly around me, as more often than not, wind and rain battered at my bedroom window, and I’d fantasise about this life. I mean, really fantasise. I would visualise this new life in great detail; my first novel underway, my artists’ skills honed, and my vegetable garden abundant with produce bursting with flavour. I’d visualise collecting friends and family visitng me in my new life, from the airport. A new life in a Greek Mountain Village, filled with olive oil, Greek food and laughter, and most importantly, tranquillity, and peace of mind. My imaginary house was even the replica of a specific traditional stone house, one that I frequently viewed on a real estate website, in Crete.
However, this was more than a happy fantasy – it was my safe place; my escape from the unrelenting and excruciating stress that was my life at that time, and a powerful and essential tool that soothed my troubled mind and got me through each day.
Now as I look out at the view in front of me, I have to pinch myself. I still can’t quite accept that dreadful period of my life is now behind me, and more incredibly, that by the hand of fate, and some seemingly unrelated sets of circumstances, my safe place fantasy has become a reality.
Without consciously planning to, I have found that Greek mountain village of my dreams, and have moved here indefinitely!
Unsure of what my plans were, but still determined to follow my travel dreams, I packed up my life in Kendal and returned to my native Scotland at the beginning of March to focus on completing several projects and spend more time with family. However, despite loving being close to my family, the continuing grey skies and persistent rain drove me to the edge of despair, and soon I longed to travel again and escape to a warmer climate.
I was due to meet up with my friend Suzie, from Australia, for a Greek Island hopping Catamaran cruise in the middle of July. Visiting the Greek Islands had long since been Suzie’s bucket list dream, and I was lucky enough to be invited as her companion, as her husband had to go back to Oz after their UK tour. With my longstanding love affair with the Greek Islands, Sue didn’t need to ask me twice!
Contemplating my escape to a warmer climate, It made sense to find somewhere cheap and simple near our rendezvous point. What I needed was a bolt hole to wait out the next couple of months while I completed my various projects, hopiing that they would begin to fund my travelling lifestyle as my savings continued to deplete.
I was writing my first novella, ‘Belize, A Journey Of Discovery, And Some Snorkeling’ while studying TEFL to teach English abroad and continued to work on my blog, Barehotelier.com, as well as doing some freelance editing work. So I simply needed somewhere peaceful and warm where I could concentrate on my work.
It was May when I first arrived. I’d never even heard of the village before I found the small and sweetly rustic one-room studio, on Airbnb. Snugly nestled just behind the village square, it was simple and cheap and promised to be the perfect sunny bolthole to wait out the next couple of months until I joined my friend.
However, it was immediately apparent that my Rhodes Island, mountain village bolthole was going to be more than just a sunny place to work. From the very day I arrived the villagers embraced me with genuine warmth and kindness, and I quickly integrated into their way of life.
Each day was a new adventure, rich with laughter and delight, as the antics and customs of my fellow villagers proved to exceed even the most exaggerated scenarios of comical and rustic Greek behaviour, so often portrayed in films and books. All the while my work flowed well and the Rhodes sun and fresh air tanned and revived my tired body.
By the time I had to leave, I’d more or less convinced myself I could return and make a new life here. I had even found what could potentially be the ideal opportunity for a lifestyle income, in the form of a house and studio rental combination, where I could live in the house and holiday let the studio.
But I was a giddy girl in love with a Greek mountain village and needed to distance myself so that I could take an objective view of my future. However, as the midnight ferry carried me away from Rhodes to Piraeus where I was meeting Suzie, I sat at the stern watching with a heavy heart, until the lights of Rhodes finally disappeared in the distance, and I already knew that somehow I would return.
So here I am sitting on the balcony of my house and studio combo. I am still uncertain about my future, for, despite my desire to travel fulltime, funds continue to deplete, as income only dribbles in. So I need to turn my focus to developing sustainable income streams, and I see this, at least for now, as the ideal base.
And already, I have my first guests in my studio ,my bookis doing well on amazon, and while my blog may take on a different form as it follows Mountain Village life, there is optimism and potential all around me, and most incredibly, what was once my fantastical safe place has become a reality, and my happy place.