One chapter ends, another begins
I’ve spent the last two months at an eco-village in Vanuatu, disconnected from the outside world.
It was by complete and perfect synchronicity that I ended up here just at the time when I needed it most. A friend of a friend told me about Eden Hope late last year, the plans for the trip unfolding with ease directly after.
In July, when it was time to board the plane, my body, spirit and emotional being were screaming at me to stop and rest. That’s when it became clear why Vanuatu had called me all those months ago.
Most of my life chapters have ended with some kind of ‘big bang’. An epic untangling – some parts let go willingly, most parts stripped away while I clung to them white knuckled. They have often started out as a quiet dismantling and then ended with a decimation, just in case any residue was left.
This last ending in July was no different.
And while I’ve been through this before – many times – it wasn’t until I stepped away completely from the last chapter, into the quiet interlude, the space in between, held by the Vanuatu rainforest, that I heard the soft shuffling of the page turning and realised with a long exhale what was going on.
Now the white blank pages of the new chapter lie before me, my fingers itch with the desire to write and create, the pages begging me to fill them with new stories and adventures.
“Not yet” I tell the part of me that always wants to push forward. “This time we are going to do it differently.” Partly as an experiment – just to see what happens, partly to have some fun, mainly because I now have the awareness to do it differently this time around.
So, I sit here in the in-between, paying tribute to the last chapter – man, it was a good one – and softly dreaming of the next.
In the past, I would have certainly worried how I looked, or what others thought or why I wasn’t further along my path. I probably would have focussed on all the things I “failed” at in the last chapter and feared I would repeat the same mistakes in the next. I definitely would have started to push my way forward before I was ready, plotting and planning, just to prove my worth and right to be here.
But not this time.
Something quite like peace – maybe it is peace. Is this what peace feels like? – emanates from my heart.
There’s an empty void and, for the first time, I’m not trying to fill it.
I have nothing and I am no one – no business, no job titles, no definite income, no partner, no home, no ‘things’, no clear direction – just me, my two suitcases and a blank slate.
I can’t think of a time when I’ve been happier.
Having nothing and being no one has gifted me everything.
Here’s a little peek into what my days at Eden Hope looked liked:
It took a whole day to get to Eden Hope from the town of Luganville – a bumpy ride on the back of a ute, then three hours in a small boat and then one more hour on a Kawasaki. The remoteness is what makes it so special. This land is largely untouched and the only sounds come from the river, wind rustling through the trees and the song of birds.
Eden Hope has what can only be described as goddess, feminine energy. Nestled along the banks of a river, protected by a mountain range and surrounded by rainforest, you feel like you’re at the end of the world, being held in the sacred womb of mother earth.
The forest is welcoming (not like Australia with bitey, poisonous and stingy things), you can walk everywhere without shoes. As someone who has always preferred no shoes, I buried my shoes in the bottom of my suitcase the moment I arrived and promptly forgot about them.
My home was this tiny bush hut. It appealed to my LOVE of tiny homes and has me dreaming of the day when I can build my own. Many a wonderful realisation came on that front deck, staring up into the tree tops, with the rushing sound of water from the river in the backdrop (in fact, this post you’re reading right now was written right there).
I showered in a cold water, outside shower irregularly. I peed behind trees and pooped in a drop toilet. I used leaves for toilet paper. (I know you were wondering…)
I started almost every day down at the river, stripped bare and diving in the crystal clear icy waters. Hands down, immersing myself in water always got my day off to the best start. I don’t know much about my next chapter yet, but I do know it’s going to have to, at some point, be located near water.
In the afternoons, I would often make my way back to the river, laying naked on the warm rocks in the sun, or sitting in the flowing rapids as the water massaged my back.
I experimented with eating mainly raw vegan food, juice fasting and a little fasting, too. All of which helped me greatly, not only with some ongoing health issues but in realising the impact food has on my energy levels and overall vibration. A great lesson to learn and something I hope to carry forward into this next chapter, too.
There was no fridge or cold storage facilities so most food is picked and eaten direct from the gardens. While the variety of foods wasn’t huge, I found there was always plenty to eat. Mainly I ate paw paws, bananas, coconuts, citrus, greens, tomatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato and, on special occasions, delicious Vanuatu fruits such as jack fruit, sour sops and custapols (similar to the Australian custard apple).
Kathrine is an incredible cook and as my hut was near her bush kitchen, she would often share cooked island cabbage, root vegetables and other specialities with me.
On my second to last day, she made ‘lap-lap’ – otherwise known as ‘jungle pizza’. A traditional food, with a base made from mashed bananas and then topped with island cabbage, pumpkin, garlic, salt and coconut milk. It’s then wrapped in banana leaves and baked on the fire for an hour under hot stones. It was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. Seeing these pictures makes me wish I was eating some right now!
By far, some of my most favourite moments were spent with Kathrine, following her around the gardens or sitting with her and the Vanuatu men in the bush kitchen, sharing food, drinking ‘black man’s medicine’ tea they brewed especially for my digestive system and hearing about their lives and families. This is what makes travel so special, don’t you think?
Living in community is not without its challenges, though. I am not sure at this point if I could do it permanently (my girlfriends will tell you they got sick of my “send chocolate immediately!” messages).
And yet, for the time I was here, not having to be anywhere, do anything, answer to anyone, perform, push, show up or act in a certain way was a very special thing.
I’ve come home to the essence of me – my bare foot-nature loving-tree hugging-dirty faced-sun kissed-tuned in-full of joy, creativity, space and lightness-hippy – and fuck, she is pretty damn amazing.
What’s next? This chapter begins with me returning home to Brisbane. I crave the love of my friends, chocolate and red wine (oh how I have missed thee, ha!) and decent medical advice – my health is top priority right now. I have some other ideas and insights but, for now, I’m just going to hold my cards close to my heart.