By Coach Sara
NOT inspired by Eat, Pray, Love!
“Are you single?” asked the 20-something Indonesian driver as soon as he picked me up from Denpasar International Airport. It was 11:30 on a humid night. I was on my way to The Colony hotel in Bali, a day early before the start of my retreat. The streets were narrow, dark and crowded. I started to feel nervous. “Yes.” Immediately regretted my answer.
“Do you have bothers and sisters?” he asked again.
“YES,” I screamed. “I have three big, strong brothers,” As if my brothers would rescue me 5,000 miles away from Riyadh.
The young man said in an adorable broken English accent: “You come Bali. You get love and you bring love back home.”
“GREAT,” I whispered to myself. I felt as if everywhere I went in this world, people only wanted to know whether or not I was single. Later, I learned that it is common for Indonesians to ask personal questions. It is their version of small talk.
The next morning, I was picked up from my hotel to Villa Serena in the heart of Seminyak where the Surf Goddess Retreat took place. From the moment I walked into my private villa, I knew I made the right decision by choosing Bali to be my longest trip as a solo traveler. I would write a whole blog post about that villa. A turquoise pool surrounded by Frangipani flowers. A cozy seating area covered with colorful pillows. Two huge bookshelves that would satisfy any book addict. Homemade refillable cookie jar on my bedside table. Inspirational cards placed on my bed every night. Plus, the highlight of my trip, an outdoor shower. I was a queen living in her miniature palace. But let’s start from the beginning.
It all began in December 2014 as I was working on my New Year’s resolutions. Travel to new places was second on my list. By January, I was in full research mode, looking for retreats in Sri Lanka, India, and Tanzania and even in Costa Rica. Then I remembered Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. ‘She is a New York bestseller, she knows a thing or two about traveling solo,” I thought to myself. But I have to say I was not going through a painful divorce or a mid-life crisis at that time. I wasn’t waking up in the middle of the night sobbing on my bathroom floor. But I knew for sure that I was in desperate need of silence.
So after thousand hours of searching and millions of TripAdvisor reviews, I found it. A surf and yoga retreat in Bali targeting solo women travelers. Let the darkness fade away and let the sunshine in, I found it. This retreat had everything I was looking for. It was in Bali. Exotic: check. I would get to learn how to surf. Challenging: check. And it’s a women only retreat, now my mom would have no reason to object: check, check and check.
“This. Is. Awesome,” I said in a high-pitched scream.
The Surf Goddess Retreat believes a true woman is strong, energetic, kind, loving and accepting. She smiles with her eyes, laughs from her belly, speaks from her heart. She lives with abundance and kindness. A true woman loves her life. The retreat aims to support women in reconnecting with their inner queens and reach their highest potential. It aims in helping women to empower themselves through surfing, restore calm and balance through yoga and take time to renew through spa treatments. Told ya, awesome!
On my first day at the retreat, after I had settled in my room, I was ready for our first introductory dinner. Here I was in the company of 12 strong beautiful and inspiring women, goddesses. Solo travelers just like me. I’m a kind of person that actually loves being alone so traveling solo was not challenging; I actually love and prefer it now. We were introducing ourselves and as I was listening to them, I noticed that each one of us has a different story. We came to Bali and chose this specific retreat for our own reasons. I expected a silent getaway from my hectic life. But, as I was inhaling my lemongrass skewers of minced fish dipped in peanut butter sauce, and enjoying my conversations with my new family for the next seven days, I knew this retreat wouldn’t be silent.
Although we discussed many things over dinner, the only thing that stuck in my mind was what Ashley, our general manager, said, “Tomorrow is your first surf lesson. Sleep tight.” Insert dizzy face emoji here. I’d never surfed before.
I’d never participated in any water activities as a matter of fact, except vegetating on pool lounge chairs if you can even call that an activity. Surfing was as far away from my comfort zone as I was from own bed at home in Riyadh. But I was up for the challenge.