The day we realise that the key of our own prison has been sitting on the inside all along is the day we gain freedom. That’s the day when the cell door opens a chink and let the light shine in.

Our lives can be likened to journeys, from the day we take the first breath until the day we take the last. Breath is the one single factor we cannot live without, yet we so take it for granted.

When my Donald struggled to catch his last breaths, my chest constricted and my heart nearly stopped with anxiety as I witnessed this thing we take for granted being denied to one who desperately needed it : BREATH. And when it’s absent, we stand as helpless witnesses.

My last journey was to Phuket in Thailand, meeting up with my daughter from South Africa and her best friend who had settled in Australia. Great excitement ensued for months beforehand in the planning and co-ordination so that we all landed more or less on the same day and left within hours of each other. It worked out beautifully!

The journey itself however, I do not wish on my worst enemy! It’s long, tedious and excruciatingly boring. But, before I left, I made sure I would be somewhat entertained and downloaded the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy onto my Kindle – it was a long read … fitting the occasion.

The Patong Beach Hotel was superb – I was in the Siam Wing overlooking what we dubbed The Zen Pool as it was totally tranquil and not much used. Unfortunately, not one of us took a pic of it! Guess it’s best kept as a secret …

Joey & Mariette's room

This was Joey and Mariette’s room.

My room My room

I arrived about 20 hours before Joey and Mariette and was fresh as a daisy, awaiting their arrival at reception. They were pooped! We ordered room service and they collapsed into bed. The next morning we had breakfast and started our holidays together. That afternoon we took a long walk on the beach and on the way back, the other two Shirleys wanted to eat nibbles from the mobile vendors. I didn’t really like the look of what was on offer and declined. That night, Joey got so sick with food poisoning … it knocked her out for the next 48 hours!

And then I started coughing. Aeroplane bug, I thought. I get it just about every time I travel and one does wonder what’s the point of travelling if each time you do, you get sick. I had taken Echinacea as a precautionary measure but it didn’t seem to work this time. I expected it to last about three days like the common cold – that’s been my standard format in the past.

The cough got worse and off to the pharmacy I went for cough syrup and throat lozenges. The pharmacist asked if I wanted antibiotics and I looked at her in surprise. This is not something one can buy over the counter where I come from … but she offered me Augmentim and I thought, what the hell – let me have a go. Three days later, Joey insisted that I saw the doctor as the situation just worsened.

A very nice Japanese doctor actually came to the hotel and examined me, prescribed three different kinds of tablets, including more Augmentim and gave me an injection. I started feeling better but was under instructions to visit his surgery two days later. On that day, I was given a second injection which was supposed to clear it all up and make me feel 100%. It did, but … there was this residue of something that just didn’t want to leave my system.

We enjoyed the rest of our holidays as best we could – I was not feeling bad, really. Just an annoying cough with really bad stuff coming up … We went on a day trip to two other islands and they snorkled to their hearts’ content whereas I didn’t think it would be a good idea with breath problems! We also went and saw two live shows – one a really good cabaret with boy-girls in the process of transformation and the other a real sleaze pit. It was great! We had lots of laughs and stood amazed at the tricks some of the performers could get up to – or down to, if you like.

Go here to see a clip of the cabaret – remember, these girls with almost all young men before … there is just one little give-away: the size of their shoes … – It was a good show, very professionally done. And no, I don’t have a clip of the other show – our cameras were locked away in the foyer!

There was one thing I really could’ve done without : noise pollution! Our very lovely hotel was about 800 yards from sleaze street and the music emanating from that direction thumped and boomed all night long until the sun came up! The problem was that one couldn’t hear the actual music; only the bass drum notes! Earplugs eventually solved that problem but it was truly challenging!

And the girls had a ball shopping – I have never – EVER! – seen shopping like that before! I simply could not keep up but they certainly enjoyed doing it. The merchandise is of good quality and dirt cheap! Dirt cheap. Had I more space in my suitcase, I would’ve bought more but … I’m really not a shopper at heart.

Poor bald birdBaldy from behind  This poor bald bird looked like something from Tolkien’s Bestiary – it had a little bit of hair left at the back of the head, otherwise clean skull … there’s a story!

Each one individually potted Along the walk-way from the street to the reception, a wall of plants, each one individually potted and tied to the support – a magnificent display typically Thai.

raya-island-by-speed-boat-2 A day trip to Raya Island and Phi Phi Island – it really is magnificent and the organisation was good too. Two bruises from getting on and off the boats but all in all, a really lovely day.First sunset My first Phuket sunset …

The main pool and my wing beyond The main pool with the Siam Wing beyond where I stayed.

The main purpose of our trip was for the three Shirley Valentines to meet up somewhere in the world so that we could celebrate our birthdays as well as Christmas. This we managed to do on the last evening together and it was magnificent! The restaurant, inside the Holiday Inn, was superb, the food outstanding, the service par excellance and we exchanged gifts and drank Taittinger – the real McCoy. What a fantastic end to our two weeks together! Sadly, the next day it was goodbye with them leaving first and me following several hours later – and then the heavens opened! Motor cycles, bicycles and scooters on a very wet – and often flooded – road did not make for an easy airport run. We did witness a small accident when two guys were actually bumped off their motorcycle … luckily the were not hurt much.

At the check-in desk in Dubai, there was Mr. Hitler himself. He questioned my Residence Permit and in my state of near exhaustion, waited for the Duty Officer to be called to verify my identity with Cyprus authorities – all in all, another half an hour of aggravation I could’ve done without.

Arriving home, there was my guardian angel, Jennifer, who had been dog- and house-sitting for me. She also happens to be a PhD in Holistic Medicine, specialising in Homeopathy. Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, she had been tracking the radioactive influences on the globe and when she saw me, was of the opinion that I could’ve been exposed to some radioactivity, perhaps in the food chain … I ate quite a lot of prawns! She doctored me with her remedies and within a very short period of time, the heaviness lifted from my system; I could even breathe easier!

On the Friday after my return, I felt the need to seek medical help as the acute bronchitis, which was diagnosed by the Japanese doctor in Phuket, just didn’t want to shift. Two kinds of inhalers, cough syrup and steaming through a thing called a Nebulizer twice a day did a whole lot to clear things up. At this stage, I’m still on a course of cortisone plus the inhalers on an ever diminishing dosage. Fingers crossed that it will soon be something of the past and the doc felt there was no need for further visits to the clinic.

I’m back to my normal routine with meditation and deep breathing exercises and soon perhaps I can get into the garden. The weather is absolutely glorious at present – nothing like winter yet! I want to paint, write and garden and get my home in order – quite a bit more to be done as far as the final sorting out is concerned but now I’m on the fast track. My Title Deeds will be obtained within the next two weeks and that will be another milestone reached.

Gosh, what a long and winding road I have been on over the last thirteen years … I am so happy to be on my island where the air is truly pure, the water crystal clear and the food home grown.

Akamas coast This is Cyprus – compliments of Rena … who needs to go anywhere when you live on this gorgeous island? This was taken on the Akamas Coast, a national treasure.

At present, I’m questioning the origins of every piece of food I put into my system – a sudden aversion to meat, fish and poultry has made me go the vegetarian route and that’s something I have always aspired to. Perhaps one day I’ll add an animal protein to my diet again, but for now I really don’t want to go there. Dairy products of local origin is just fine with me – I’m no vegan!

One thing that came to mind with all these breathing difficulties was the cause of it all. I’m a strong believer in looking beyond the physical manifestations of illnesses and investigating the root cause of any affliction. Why do things go wrong? What is it the Universe wants to bring to our attention when we contract something? Louise Hay maintains that lung disorders have to do with the fact that the person suffering is living in fear of embracing life to the full. I do agree that most afflictions stem from innate fear of something; if we can pinpoint the origin of the fear, half the battle is won.

Well, I don’t think I need to expand any further on my fear of whatever – these last fifteen months have been filled with trepidation and uncertainty, mainly about my own ability to cope without Donald’s firm hand on the tiller. The road of The Widow is not an easy one, especially when the late husband was so exceptionally competent. But, we live and learn and each day I gain a little more confidence. Soon, perhaps, I’ll shift a mountain … or maybe I’ll just reach the top of my very own mountain.

May I take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a most pleasant, peaceful and joyful Festive Season and a bountiful 2014!


One thought on “JOURNEYS”

  1. Sounds like a great holiday was had by all! Let us know when you arre in the UK in the Spring in case there is a chance to meet up somewhere

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