"It’s hard to walk the streets of Skala Eressos during this fortnight without being reminded every few steps that women are beautiful, fun, sensuous beings and this is a time when we all seem to shine. The island is ours for a couple of weeks and we are swinging our hips!" Singer and entertainer Lara A King shares her story about hot nights and breast massages.
"My flight left at 6.55am.
I needed to be in the taxi by 4.30am.
I was sitting on my balcony drinking granola from a glass.
It was 10.15am.
I didn’t get on the plane.
This place can do that to a girl.
I’ve heard stories of women who came for two weeks and stayed two years. Women who came on holiday and ended up buying a house here. Women who spend months at a time here; able to work remotely, able to escape. Hot-desking in paradise.
I turn the pages of my diary to next week to see what I have to be home for. The page is dangerously empty. I could stay another week. As I look out over the sea, the bright sunshine bouncing off it’s gentle ripples and turning it from clear blue to clear green, I see a dolphin hurl itself out of the water and flip in the air. I take this as a sign to stay.
I am humming the refrain from a Mary Chapin-Carpenter song as I cycle up the dusty dried river bed, What If We Went To Italy.
“What if we never got back on the plane, and summer turned colder and then warmer again…”
Another week of glorious sunshine. Another week of getting up each morning and swimming the 400m swim to ‘The Rock’. Another week of lazing on the sand during the day and drinking ouzo with new friends in glorious beachside bars each evening.
And it was festival time. So that also meant another week of fantastic live music and comedy.
Day trips on scooters to picturesque fishing villages and treks to far flung monasteries. Singing workshops, laughter workshops, yoga, reflexology, breast massage for heavens sake! Pool parties and volleyball tournaments and tug-o-war competitions. Films, concerts and fashion shows. And women. Lots of women. English women, Greek women, Dutch women, German women, Swedish, French, Australian and Norwegian women. Women from all over the world. Hundreds of them, crammed into this tiny town with it’s one bakery, it’s sprinkling of shops, it’s quirky hotels and apartments and it’s glorious stretch of funky bars and restaurants.
And they were all here to party. Hard. And what a party it is. It’s the hottest invite going.
In May there is the Spring Festival which caters to about 80 women, mostly Dutch and brilliantly organised by Travel Women. In September though is the main event. When Travel Women join forces with Sappho Travel to bring more than 800 women to the town of Skala, Eressos, on Lesvos.
Just imagine, hundreds and hundreds of women from every nationality, every shape and size. Every colour, every creed, every language, every accent. All different but all the same. And all wearing hardly any clothes.
Because it is hot on Lesvos in September. In every sense of the word.
It’s hard to walk the streets of Skala during this fortnight without being reminded every few steps that women are beautiful, fun, sensuous beings and this is a time when we all seem to shine. The island is ours for a couple of weeks and we are swinging our hips!
Last September I ran a couple of my Humourology workshops. It’s like Laughter Yoga but not so awkward. Grown-up playtime with improvisation games and theatrical exercises. Plus a little bit about the science of laughter. We talk about what makes us laugh and how laughter makes us feel and then we make each other laugh. A lot. Women who seemed shy and timid at first opened up and joined in with enthusiasm. Women who had never met before role-played a touching mother/daughter relationship and someone else shared a hilarious childhood memory. By the end of the session we were all walking on air. We were all in love with each other. We had shared something very special (and a few also shared phone numbers). Sassy, strong, confident women spilt out of the town hall and sashayed down the street with a spring in their step and a rosy glow in their cheeks.
And that feeling is what the festival is about for me. The feeling of freedom to just be. To meet new friends, make new connections. To celebrate all our differences and to come together to immerse ourselves in the stunning climate and scenery; to indulge our enjoyment of entertainment and the arts; to explore a different culture, a different lifestyle and maybe, a different side to ourselves.
Taking full advantage of the side of myself that wakes up one morning and decides not to get on a plane I wander down to the beach to find the tent where the nice lady does reflexology. I have been desperate to visit her all week but haven’t had a chance. Now I have all the time in the world. I presume I will have to make an appointment but she can see me straight away. I lie down on the couch and relax to the sound of the waves. Even though it is actually quite painful at times, I fall asleep. When she gently wakes me up I apologise and make a joke about the fact that I might have been snoring.
“It’s okay,” she smiles. “You needed to sleep.”
“You were quite tense, I think you had a lot of stress to let go of. You need to rest now.”
“I do,” I agree. About a week should do it. I pay her and wander back up the beach to find out the time of the next available breast massage.
What if we never got back on the plane. As summer turned colder and then warmer again. Losing all track of the passing of years. Til it no longer mattered how long we’d been here