It was a grey and humid day the day I met Louise, the sky was closing in on us and the heat was rising. We’d spent the morning being reprimanded for not drying the dishes or keeping the kitchen as orderly as it should have been. We both wanted out.
Stood there in the marquee tent, hanging up sheets that I’d accidentally dyed brown by washing them with a clump of mud, somewhere between criminal masterminds and Sister Mary Clarence, we whispered out the plot of our monastery escape.
When Thelma Meet Louise
Louise is my latest room-mate, a lovely little French girl from a village near Metz in the North East of France and another ridiculously intelligent and interesting person. I later found out that she’s ten years my junior, but given her maturity and my lack thereof, we met somewhere around the age of twenty-seven.
She loves languages, travel, healthy stuff, documentaries and has also always wanted to shave her head – the only difference is she’d suit it much more than me. She’d look a lot like Natalie Portman, whereas I’d look like Dan Aykroyd in Coneheads.
Anyway, back to the Great Escape. Why were we plotting to runaway?
Well for me, almost five weeks volunteering at the centre mopping up monk’s pubes, brushing away hundreds of spiders and grating my thumbs instead of carrots was enough humbling to last me until at least the end of the year. Plus with my next adventure on the horizon, I really needed to take some time out to work out how to make a few pennies to fund it.
For Louise, an experienced WorkAwayer, it was a little bit too quiet up there in hills of Sa Roca without a bicycle and I think she was looking for a little more adventure, and a little less isolation.
So we’d decided to flee Monkville together and our plan was simple: cycle, hitchhike and couchsurf our way around the island until it was time to catch our flights home.
About ten years ago, my friend Alice told me she’d been couchsurfing and I remember at the time thinking that she was incredibly brave and/or stupid. I’d always had a bit of an old-fashioned, cautious view. I thought couchsurfing was a akin to writing a letter to a serial killer, you know, something that would go a little bit like this:
I am a young(ish), very gullible woman travelling on my own thousands of miles away from home. I would like to spend the night on your sofa so that when I am asleep you can hover over me, breathing heavily, wondering how you will dispose of the tiny pieces of my corpse once you’re done doing whatever it is you murderers like to do.
Also, just so you know, my passport and phone are conveniently located in the top pocket of my backpack, so you can dispose of all evidence that I was ever here. Oh and there’s a few euros in that little hippie bumbag thing if you’re low on cash.
However, over the past four weeks I’ve met so many people who’ve couchsurfed their way around the world and they all totally vouch for the non-murdery qualities of its hosts.
The site is up to date; you have host and traveller profiles, with references, photographs, bios and number of Facebook friends. It feels a lot safer than I imagined, plus travelling with my co-Escape Artist in tow, I feel totally fine.
I want to break free, I’ve got to break free
This is my second resignation in a few months, but I simply cannot take any of the blame; my stomach has been recently appointed Chief Life Decision Maker and all I do is vocalise what it’s telling me. So if something doesn’t feel right anymore, I get out. Plus, as much as I get a kick out of making plans, I love it even more when they fall apart and spontaneity takes over.
So our first stop will be Ciutadella, the former capital of the island. God knows what’s going to happen and who knows who we will meet – I feel like I’ve lived a disasterless existence for too long in the confines of monastery grounds, it’s no doubt time for something horrendously dramatic.
Unfortunately, unlike Thelma and Louise, we won’t be driving a 1966 Ford Thunderbird and won’t be decked out in cool 80’s headscarves and oversized sunglasses. Instead, I’ll be whacking on my neon active wear and heading over there a day before Louise, cycling thirty-five kilometres with 25kg on my back in a thunderstorm. And she’ll follow on behind, first on foot and then by bus.
Once were there, hopefully we won’t have to murder a creepy guy called Harlan in the car park, but if there’s any line dancing nights on I’d be up for that and if Brad Pitt wants to rock up in a cowboy hat then that’s okay too.
The only trip you will regret is the one you don’t take