We all need a break sometimes

A life of endless traveling. Sounds great, doesn’t it! We travel around the world, see unique places and astonishing destinations, every day is different and time doesn’t seem to exist. We don’t have many possessions (everything we own is in our backpacks) so we don’t have much to worry about. A dream! But changing places everyday eventually gives us an overload of sensations. It’s sometimes good to stay for a while in one place and give ourselves the time to absorb rather than superficially seeing everything from a distance.

Taking time just to be in the hammock
Processing the adventures while resting in the hammock

 

I started to need a break. In the past five years of my travel life I had the habit to stick around in a place for a few months. It gave me the opportunity to get to know my surroundings. HelpX is an excellent way to do this. With this community you can stay everywhere in the world in the home of people. In exchange for a few hours of daily work they give you food and accommodation. You often learn new skills and experience a different way of living. It’s also a great way to learn more about a country and the culture.

Through the website of Helpx we found a nature park in Crete (an island of Greece) where the owners needed help caring for the animals while the park was closed. They needed helpers who could work independently and didn’t mind to being alone and living in a caravan. That’s exactly what we were looking for! We contacted the owners and two weeks later we took the ferry from Athens to Crete.

The view from the nature park
The view from the nature park on the Aegean sea

 

The nature park Biotopoi is located just outside the Cretan city Rethymno. It is surrounded by mountains, olive trees and has a fantastic view on the Aegean sea. Biotopoi is a small park where visitors explore the exotic fauna and flora of Crete. Our task was to maintain the park and care for the cats, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, chameleons, turtles and iguana.

Welcome to Biotopoi!
Welcome to Biotopoi!

 

Biotopoi
People can explore the exotic fauna and flora of Crete

We were living on a little cloud. At seven o’clock in the morning we woke up with the sound of the crowing roosters. The chickens and cats were already waiting for us outside our caravan. While feeding the chickens, we heard the cheerful wheeking of the guinea pigs. They already knew their breakfast was getting served soon. What a great way to start the day when you’re being greeted like this every morning! The chickens laid many eggs so every day we made ourselves a fresh omelet. The only one who was a bit moody in the morning was our neighbour Freddy. He lived in the van next to our caravan. Every time I would bring him fresh lettuce with apples and avocado, he tried to bite or whip me. A good thing I didn’t want to cuddle him. He needed time to get to know me. Not everybody loves strangers like I do. Oh, did I forgot to mention Freddy’s an iguana?

Our new temporary home
Our new temporary home

 

Watch out, chickens coming through!
Watch out, chickens coming through!

 

Happy rabbits

 

Happy guinea pig

 

Our neighbour Freddy
Our neighbour Freddy

 

We lived peacefully in our own rhythm in the park. We enjoyed the fresh sea breeze and the isolated life. We were nearly the whole time alone, with the animals as our only companions. Quality time in nature! Nothing beats the silence and the purring of two happy cats on your lap. The only thing that disturbed our peace sometimes, were the sneeze attacks of Myti. The poor cat had a chronic nose infection (that’s where she got her name ‘Myti’ which means nose in Greek) and whenever she sneezed, we had to watch out not to get covered in green slime. It definitely caused a lot of laughter, ugly faces and extra laundry!

Myti the sneezing cat
Myti the sneezing cat

 

Daily routine in Biotopoi was simple and brought me out of my mind and back into my body. During the first days in Crete it seemed like a part of myself was still somewhere in Europe and had to catch up with me. By staying in the same place for a little while, it felt like I became myself again. One of the daily tasks was a good practice to return to the here and now: hunting for grasshoppers! The chameleons in the park lived in a big cage and always had enough plants and flowers to eat. But every now and then they needed some meat. Their favorite dish was grasshopper but those insects are smart enough not to jump into the cages. Armed with a little butterfly net we searched for grasshoppers in the olive tree fields. It was hard to detect them in the long grass. If I wasn’t focused, they cheerfully jumped by me and then I had to disappoint the chameleons. I discovered a new mindfulness training: the grasshopper meditation!

Getting ready to do some grasshopper hunting
Getting ready to do some grasshopper hunting

 

No matter how our daily life looks like, it’s important to sometimes take a break from it. A busy job, a family, studies, traveling,… How fun or hard the daily activities are, they can ask a lot of energy. It’s good to stop in between and allow ourselves to process the external input. And if you don’t like to sit quietly in a chair or meditate, try to catch some grasshoppers! I’m sure you’ll practice mindfulness with a smile!

How do you like taking a break?

Follow Cynthia - Journal of Nomads:

Writer, travel photographer, Panasonic Lumix Ambassador and co-founder of Journal of Nomads

I have Belgian roots but the world has been my home for the past 8 years. I'm an artist at heart and often get lost in my thoughts. I like to create some-thing out of no-thing and once I feel inspired, I'm unstoppable. I love telling stories and taking photos, showing the beauty and extraordinary of the world around me. Oh, and I love making the impossible elegantly probable. Once you realize that you're a creator and the world is your playfield, there's no limit to what can be done!

8 Responses

  1. Vyjay Rao
    | Reply

    This is a great experience, really one with nature.A great way to cool off and renew ones energies both physically, mentally and spiritually.

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      There is a saying “Nature is the best therapy” and we can only confirm that it is true!!!

  2. Rob Taylor
    | Reply

    This is great. Before we had kids we’d looked into a few options of doing a work exchange and popping around Europe this way. I totally understand wanting to settle for a short period, though I cannot begin to fathom the true feeling of a wholly nomadic life.

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      I couldn’t picture my life different for the moment but sometimes it becomes very exhausting too: the constant moving around, meeting people everyday, having a lot of new impressions to process,… On top of that I’m a high sensitive person so sometimes I get overwhelmed too 🙂 But I’m learning how to deal with it and hooray for work exchange and house sitting to have a little break 🙂 There are work exchange places that take families with kids. A friend of mine travels this way with her 2 year old daughter and she loves it.

  3. Travelsito
    | Reply

    I very much agree, Cynthia! We all need a break sometimes!

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Indeed Travelsito, no matter what we do, it’s good to step away from it and fully relax! We’re so much more productive and have new energy afterwards!

  4. Martina
    | Reply

    Beautiful place for a break – and the kids would love to meet Freddy too 😉

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      We enjoyed that break so much! It was so peaceful there! The kids would definitely love it! In summer there is also a snake and tortoises and a playground with big trampolines! They can feed the rabbits and guinea pigs. The moment I arrived there I thought straight away of my little niece and how much she would enjoy it there!

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