Where did we get to? Oh yes…after lunch. Well, I’d felt under a little pressure for the first time all week. Not in a bad way, you understand, but because I’d pretty much tried everything else that’s recommended here. But most of the other guests had, from day one, been doing the daily ‘coffee enemas’ that were recommended if not prescribed to all but a few. This isn’t regular coffee but some kind of ‘green’ organic stuff. I was told in great detail about the health benefits of this over your common or garden water enema, but I have to be honest and say I can’t actually remember why I felt compelled to give my arsehole a rinse out with nature’s Nescafe. I will have to ask my sister to fill in the blanks here some time. But it just goes to show how relaxing a week at Amchara is, that I would try to fit this into my busy schedule of pampering and enlightenment despite only retaining a fraction of the knowledge being imparted to me about why it was important.
You are told to do a quick water bum flush first, then coffee, then another water bum flush if you feel it necessary (for example, if like me you don’t drink coffee and aren’t used to it in your system this can be recommended). And by now, I was almost getting used to shoving things up my poor confused puckered rosebud, so knowing I only had an hour before we were due to meet the other guests in reception for a boat trip to the island of Comino, I felt a great sense of urgency to get on with this just so I could fulfill my promise to you guys to ’embrace it all’. And so get on with it I did.
My first mistake – cold water for my pre-bum-flush-bum-flush. Ideally the water you use should be around body temperature as I think I mentioned before. But I’d forgotten this and my sister was off doing something else so there was no one around to remind me or do it for me. The result was that my chilled bowel simply wanted to instantly regurgitate the water without being able to hold it in at all. Thankfully I was right next to the toilet so all was well. ‘A quick rinse will have to do,’ I thought, as I attempted to get the carafe of special green coffee (it’s not actually green…it’s brown…but that’s what it’s called) into the enema bag without spilling it on Nay’s bathroom floor. Once more I lay on the floor and thought of England as I inserted the tube and turned on the flow. Unlike with the water one, this is only a small carafe and actually felt like a bit of a doddle to get in there. ‘I’m getting good at this.’ I thought to myself smugly, whilst also acknowledging that it’s not the sort of achievement one NORMALLY posts online, like ‘Hey I just ran a marathon!’ ‘Hey, my kid just passed their A levels’. ‘Hey, I just hosed my sphincter out with a breakfast beverage.’ It isn’t quite the acceptable norm of Facebook updates. But here I am, telling you all, and hoping you’ll share in my sense of achievement when I was 100% certain I would never ever ever ever want to be involved in this sort of nonsense while I was in Gozo or anywhere else, come to think of it.
So…what happened next? Well, what goes up must come down. And with it came a bit more of that horrid putrid stuff that had been festering deep inside. I was really celebratory every time I felt a bit more shift out and there is a real sense of ‘cleansing’. You know the feeling like when you have a much needed declutter of your food cupboard and find jars of pasta sauce or packets of chickpeas that were past their use by date 9 years ago that you’ve been hanging onto just in case there was a zombie apocalypse and every single piece of food or ex-food was precious? Kind of like that. It’s a good feeling to let go of all that shit, quite literally in this case.
A quick shower later and I realised that I hadn’t done the post bum-flush bum-flush-with-water so the coffee was still in my system. And although my sister said the caffeine really shouldn’t affect me like drinking coffee because of the type of coffee it was…it certainly seemed to have some effect as I noticed for about an hour afterwards I was talking REALLY fast like Spud in Trainspotting when he goes for that job interview while off his face on drugs. Maybe it only seemed fast to me, as others said I sounded normal, but as normality here is slowed right down to such a serene, relaxed pace, I was well aware of sounding ‘super excited’ about everything after my coffee. But I suppose I could have just been genuinely super excited to conquer yet another step on my personal journey of arsehole milestones and knowing I was now free and unburdened to enjoy the promised boat trip to Comino, which sounded so so lovely.
About 6 of the other guests, my big sister and I all piled into the back of a taxi minivan outside Amchara like a bunch of hyper kids going on a school trip. Unlike kids on a school trip, who swap sweets, sing silly songs and gossip about crushes, this group swapped stories of personal achievements of the week – yes, mainly to do with food and poo. The mood was merry and high, with everyone feeling a bit hyper about being out in ‘the real world’ for a bit with all the temptations that entails.
Down by the harbour, we piled into a smallish motorboat ‘taxi’ with padded seats either side. It has been described as ‘the ferry to Comino’ so I had been expected..well, a ferry. Perhaps something a little larger and definitely slower because once we were out of the harbour, the captain pulled down on the lever throttle thingy and VROOOOMM!!! We shot along the water doing a water-wheelie the entire way.
My sister, who is a bit of an adrenaline junkie compared to me, was all ‘Woo hoooooooo!’ and I was a little Wooo hoooo! at first, but then the captain took it up a notch till we were bouncing along the waves like a kangaroo with 8 baby roos clinging onto the pouch for dear life. It is lucky I’d spent all that time on the toilet just before coming out, or there is every chance a little bit of wee might have come out.
Taking a deep breath, and forcing myself NOT to think about the lack of life jackets, the way the captain was on his mobile phone having a chat to someone, or the speed at which we were going, I tried to consciously relax and enjoy the feeling of flying along the water. I’m still me though – natural worry wart – so can’t pretend I was totally at ease, but it was still pretty fun, and a lovely ‘free’ feeling of ‘weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’ after the gentle, delicate pace of the resort. And before I knew it, the captain had brought us into the edge of the island and was slowly pootling along to take us around the more interesting rock formations and natural caves along the coastline of Comino where the water is an unusual shade of turquoise different to that I’ve seen in Gozo, Greece or anywhere else I’ve holidayed.
We were dropped off at a place called The Blue Lagoon – a swimming area of incredible natural beauty that is a tourist hot spot in the summer. Coming at the end of the day, many of the tourists had left and it wasn’t overcrowded. It’s not a beachy type venue, and we had to climb down some stairs carved into the rocks to get to the sea. But once down, we could appreciate the full gloriousness of the blue-green water.
We were hanging out with my two new friends who I’ve bonded with during the week. Elena from Brazil and Glen the roofer. Although I have spent a lot of time with my sister, we’ve not done everything together nor felt compelled to be stuck together 24/7. Doing things on my own has meant I naturally got chatting with other guests and staff and made friends and I got a real sense of what my other more intrepid friends from home who regularly travel the globe alone get out of it. It’s actually really easy to make friends when you are on your own. And going through any sort of challenging experience like a fast (or an enema) naturally bonds those who experience it around the same time. And I must say, I’ve loved just meeting people who had nothing to do with say, my work, or anyone else I know. Although we did talk about what we do in our daily lives, and our families and stuff like that, it’s also a way to interact with people knowing if they like you, they like you just for who you are and because they enjoy your company and not because of any connection or anything you can potentially do for them. It’s a lovely way of reminding yourself that you are a nice person to be around…even when you are talking about poop.
Glen had an underwater camera, and I had my knickers on my head again (aka my special full face mask/snorkel thing that everyone has either been admiring or laughing at during the week). So Nay and I took it in turns to try and swim past the camera making poses while Glen attempted to get us in shot. Turned out to be harder than you’d think as the waves were getting pretty strong and pulling us about quite far when we swam. Luckily the water is pretty shallow and you can stand up and walk against the waves.
It was soon time to catch our ‘ferry’ home to Gozo. And we all recognised there was nowhere to get changed into our dry clothes on the tiny scrap of sand beneath the rocks where we’d parked our stuff. So I toweled myself off and put my clothes on over the top of my swimsuit. This feels OK until you sit down. No matter how much you’ve dried your butt in your swim suit, the moment you sit, it is like sitting on a wet sponge and more water than is logically possible will appear from nowhere, seeping through your dry clothing and making it look to everyone everywhere that you have wet yourself good and proper. So this is how I traveled home. Bouncing along the waves (actually…I kind of liked it this time…must be getting braver) and pulling into the lovely Gozoan harbour.
Our taxi was a little late picking us up, and this meant that 8 hungry, fasting people were already half an hour late for their ‘dinner’ – albeit an evening broth or raw vegetable arrangement. Tummies had started to rumble, hackles started to be raised. Being out in the real world makes you realise how well looked after we’ve been at Amchara and how well timed the different juices and so forth are so that you really don’t get to experience true hunger in the fullest sense at all. But here we were, the other side of the island from our final meal of the day, and all getting pretty bloody hungry.
As if the gods were messing with us, Clash of the Titans style, for their own amusement, we got stuck in a very narrow lane through an old village where overtaking was impossible. This van was traveling at about 15 miles per hour for reasons unknown. And it was…a PIZZA van. On the back of it it had photos of large, cheese laden, delicious looking pizza and next to that pictures of bottles of beer. The whole van erupted with excitement and frustration and much much laughter as we plotted to ‘get’ the driver of the van in front, rip the doors off his van and devour the contents. I don’t think any court in the world could have blamed us.
Finally, after about 15 minutes of staring at that photo of pizza and beer, we were able to pass the van and get home. The scene of us walk-running in the direction of the juice/raw food room must have looked a little like those nature documentaries where all the wilderbeast herd together for some mass migration in the direction of sustenance. My sister, more controlled and used to hunger than I am, went off to get showered and changed. But nothing was going to come between me and my first solid dinner in a week.
There in the juice room was a platter with a dome over it to keep it warm with my name next to it. I swear I could hear angels singing at this point. I felt actual LOVE for whatever the contents were going to be of that platter. This place sure makes you appreciate your food.
Sitting down with my friends, I lifted the cover off my dish like a child unwrapping a Christmas present and stared in total and utter fixated adoration at the contents. What greeted me was a stunning looking noodle dish (kelp noodles, not pasta) and chopped courgette and some other veg, with those garlic-tasting flowers on top, and a side dish of the most incredible INCREDIBLE spicy peanutty tasting sauce. Learning my lesson from the soup meal the night before, I held back from adding the sauce straight away so I could taste the noodles/veg on their own first. My first mouthful was tentative, like a teenager leaning in for their first kiss. But OH OH OH!!! You are just going to have to imagine the sex noises I made this time. But they were loud. And there were many. And I don’t think I stopped purring the entire meal.
The noodles were fantastic and I don’t think I even realised until halfway through that the vegetables were totally raw because to my brand new mouth it tasted like the best pasta with veg sauce I’ve ever had. Even though in reality I was eating seaweed with raw chopped veg. But I can’t describe it. There literally are not the words. I can’t even tell you if it was seasoned or sauced or not, because my taste buds and perception around food are completely reset and I don’t see or smell or taste like I used to. I’m an alien now. Food is a miracle.
Adding the sauce to the kelp pasta, I took another mouthful and nearly unfurled onto the floor with pleasure. I swear I almost cried with the beauty of it. I don’t even think there could be chili or peanuts in it because I think those things would be banned for at least a few weeks after fasting. But whatever it was, whatever that genius chef, Ali, put in it…was at that moment the most incredible thing I’d eaten in my life. I would order it in every restaurant I go in for the rest of my life if I could make it always taste that good. I’m not exaggerating. We are talking foodgasm. We are talking that salad scene in When Harry Met Sally. And I don’t care. I honestly wasn’t aware of the other residents judging me for my pleasure noises because ‘we are all one here’. Those who have broken fast first can look back with pleasure at the pleasure others take in their first meal and relive their own bliss. Those who have not yet broken fast can share in the pleasure and anticipate their own bliss. We are all one, just different places on the same timeline. There is no judgement here. Only bliss.
Nay had her bliss in the privacy of her own room a bit later that evening. As it was my last night, she had planned to take me into town to see the fireworks at a local festival that was kicking off that night, but a short storm came with refreshing rain (the first rainfall of my trip) and put pay to that idea. But part of me was relieved in a way, because I just fancied a quiet evening with my sister – knowing it would be the last night we had together for a very long time.
And, like a couple of teenage girls, we lounged around her room on her bed, painting each other’s toenails, sharing our favourite new songs with each other on Youtube, talking and talking and putting the world to rights, hugging and laughing, sometimes tears coming to our eyes too because it’s been a hard year in many ways. And like that, our last night together flew by, leaving me with a full and happy heart and bright turquoise glittery toenails.
I packed my case before bed, ready for the morning, hardly believing a week had gone by because it has flown so fast, and yet also feeling like I couldn’t believe it had only been a week because I’d settled in here so well it felt like another kind of home and my new way of life here had become my new normal, enemas and all. And I went to bed that night softly praying, earnestly plotting when I could viably return, bringing my boys, bringing anyone and everyone I could to share the incredible lightness of being I had found here.
Having only hand luggage on my cheap RyanAir flight, I tried to hide my take home enema kit inside my snorkel/mask in the hopes that through those x-ray machines they have at airports that it would look, to the untrained eye, like some sort of diving apparatus. However, I’m quite sure the customs officers have grown quite used to people floating home from Amchara with all kinds of weird and wacky things in their cases. Nevertheless, I found myself just a little anxious that they might open my case and hold it up in front of the queue of other travelers to quiz me about it just because they could. Only the morning would answer that particular anxiety….