Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Last Days Of The Retreat

The first days of refeeding were the hardest for me. While it seemed natural and easy for everyone to
start drinking smoothies and eventually eating, it was much harder for me. The idea was pleasant but implementing it, and drinking that whole cup of smoothie seemed like an impossible mission. Day by day it got better, easier, and eventually more fun. The energy of everyone around me was priceless. People were shinning, everyone was bursting with pure joy, happiness, bliss, and enjoyment. I wasn't entirely sure if all this overflowing positive energy was because of eating, or if it was the sense of accomplishment, power, will, and for some getting over the side effects of their illnesses. One thing for sure everyone had a new sense of power and utopia. I can't tell you day by day in details what happened the final days of the retreat since i came back about a month ago! But we were flying, enjoying, trying to suck in as much information as we can, and occasionally panicking to the idea of going back to the real world. We had a few incidents of food theft, some people simply wanted to eat more, so we had the day where we stole tomatoes and tahini from the fridge, we had people sneaking to eat rice at a resturant, and many other weird incidents of food disobedience. No one dared to eat non-vegan food though throughout the disobedience, they all followed the guidelines (at least thats what everyone says).
On our 6th day we had a special lunch outing planned. We all waited in anticipation for that lunch, we knew what was planned for us and we could not wait to try it, it wasn't just another lunch, it wasn't a smoothie, it wasn't a salad, it was…pasta! The resturant was prepared for us, they knew what we needed before hand, and had a very special vegan lunch prepared for us. At this point we were a very hungry group, some of us would eat unbelievable quantities. We were told that by the time we reach the pasta we will be super full we won't be able to finish our plate of pasta, we begged to differ. First we were served a salad, with no dressing, but they added coriander which gave the salad a lovely taste. Little did the resturant know about the eating frenzy we were in, all the salad prepared for us disappeared, it was all gone. A sense of disbelief showed on the waiter's and the owner's faces. Still very hungry, we were then served a heart warming carrot soup, with a lovely zing of ginger, it was delicious. of course, the soup was all gone too, and the very hungry group waited for the next challenge, the ultimate challenge; brown pasta. They said we won't be able to finish it, they said we might even take a bite or two and retire from the meal, they said "we bet on that", little did they know about our group! We went for it, most of us finished our plates, some of us ordered a second plate! For me one was enough, but the pasta was so good that when someone ordered a second plate I took an extra bite from it, just because I could. We were supposed to have ta'meya (falafel) for breakfast on the 7th day of the refeeding, but for a few of us our flight was super early that there was no way we could do that. So the lovely team decided to bend the rules a little and served us air-fried ta'meya for dinner! its was lovely but so heavy after such a heavy lunch. I enjoyed more the salad with tahini and bread, with very little ta'meya in between, it was delicious. I thought I have to buy this air fryer the moment I land in Cairo, It made so much sense to me at this point.
It was so sad knowing that this was our last day here. It was sad but also terrifying, unsure what to expect when we go back to our daily lives. How much will we struggle? How hard will it be to maintain this lifestyle? How will other people react to it? How well will we cook our new food? Will we like it? Will we suck at it? It was a scary thought going back, away from our very safe haven, back to the stress, routine, and challenges of our daily lives. But with all the terror, and inspite of missing my vegan squad, I still missed my family and wanted to see everyone, and give them endless hugs and kisses. I wanted to share my experiences with them, tell them about every single detail, and help them see the light of the vegan lifestyle and how healthy they could be if they followed it. It was time to go back.

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