As a busy working mom and simply put; a person trying to balance work and private life (sounds familiar?), I decided last year to treat myself to some much needed time away from home. A short break from needy teens and demanding screens!
The Summer before I had been on a road trip in Portugal with my three teenagers and thanks to Lisbon based friend Sanda, we had some insider info as to what special places in Alentejo, the region we were traveling in, not to miss. Porto Covo was one of our last stops before heading back to Lisbon.
First of all, you know those ‘hidden gems’ we all want to know about, well this one was certainly hidden quite well. We literally couldn’t find it and were driving through endless rolling hills of wheat fields before we finally called for help with directions.
When we arrived at Cabeca da Cabra, an old elementary school restored to a charming guesthouse, I immediately fell in love.It is a place where so much love and care is put into by owner Maria, that you can really feel it’s soul and heartbeat.
Twice a year Maria organizes surf retreats at Cabeca da Cabra. She teams up with Andre, an amazing surf teacher that can speak about the ocean and waves as if you’re listening to a philosophical love story! Optional morning yoga sessions complemented the program.
It was an interesting experience to learn to surf the waves. Quite honestly it reminded me much of my yoga practice. On the board you are immediately confronted with your own thoughts, limitations, expectations and reactions. Much of these reactions and patterns have parallels with our personal lives. Are we overachievers and do we constantly want to be ‘best in class’? Are we more hesitant and cautious. Do we let fear take over? Do we like to be in control? It was confronting for me to take a closer look at my own learning path, but most definitely an opportunity to investigate the story I had told myself beforehand, ‘oh, I am too old to learn to surf, my body is not made for surfing’ etc, etc. What I expected was to learn a new skill, to be active, to clear my head. What it brought me was even more valuable; a better understanding of myself, clear new goals of what I wanted in life and a new sense of direction.
Experiencing new things together, sharing stories and sharing meals together was a unique experience. The latter one by the way is not ever taken lightly by Maria as she put her heart and soul into every dish she served us! Her cooking is out of this world, so delicious. It was more of a good food and surf retreat than anything else.
Taking time for yourself, without a friend, partner or children, is something I have come to experience as very valuable. Of course there is always the option to wander off by yourself to a place unknown, but doing that within a framework of experiencing or learning something new, being in a different culture than your own and being able to share life stories with strangers is an experience on a whole new level and, if you ask me, one worth investing in.