Just recently, a friend of mine invited me to spend sometime with her and a bunch of her girlfriends at what she described as a quiet exotic retreat, isolated from the world, that was perfect for resting and restoring the mind and body. The cost would be zero dollars, she said, and all I had to do was bring myself and have fun for a full week.
I was delighted and quickly accepted the invitation! Her family owns a hideously expensive but great lodge by a lake located in a very quiet place in the outskirts of the city, surrounded by nature. The place is safe and is also a perfect stress free environment away from the hectic and noisy city. The few times we booked rooms there as a group they gave us a very good discount.
I once spent the week leading to and including New Year there with her and a bunch of her friends and we all had a fantastic time! It’s one of the best lodges around. The food is very healthy, the air is pure and I enjoyed watching the birds and ducks swimming in the lake from the balcony of my room. But what I loved most about the place is that I literally spent all night, every night, writing. I had a very productive week because the ideas flowed freely. I would sit on the balcony of my room with my laptop at around 10 p.m. and write away. I would loose track of time, loose myself in whatever I was writing until I felt the rays of the sun against my face, and realize that I have been writing all night long, yet it felt like only a few minutes. Then I would bask in the early morning sun before retreating into my room to sleep for a few hours.
Thus when she invited me for what she described as a quiet retreat, I assumed she was talking about the aforementioned lodge and I couldn’t believe that I would be staying there for free! I happily agreed to tag along and the following Saturday, she picked me up early in the morning (along with three of her friends) not in her usual small car, but in a Toyota four-wheel drive. I asked if she’d bought a new car to which she replied “No. I borrowed it from my aunt for safety reasons.”
“That’s a bit odd.” I thought to myself. The last time we went to the lodge we’d used her small car and it had been a very smooth ride, the roads were in pretty good condition and the entire area is generally known to be very safe.
“Maybe they’re fixing the roads and she needs this car because we’re going to use an alternative route.” I thought and quickly brushed my uneasy feelings away.
We were five girls in the car, and as she drove us to the location, they chatted away, while I mostly listened and frankly, enjoyed the ongoing conversation between the girls. These intelligent girls (my friend included) were literally updating me on everything that was happening around the world! They chatted about everything from President Trump’s controversial government shutdown and the walls at the US borders to the Jenner-Kardashian-Wests, Bonang, the Duchess of Sussex and Michelle Obama’s bestselling Becoming, among other interesting stuff, and believe it or not most of it was news to me! My only contribution was “really?”…”I didn’t know that.” and “I can’t believe…”
My friend, who was driving but barely kept her eyes on the road, kept shaking her head at me with incredulity and saying stuff like “I can’t believe you don’t know that Justin Timberlake wrote a book!…No Tilly, there’s no Oprah Winfrey show anymore; now there’s OWN aka the Oprah Winfrey Network!…Hello! President Bush Senior passed away! Didn’t you see that historic moment when President Bush offered Michelle Obama a tiny candy at his dad’s funeral. What part of planet earth do you live in?!…”
To defend myself from her unwarranted attacks, I retorted “Well I can’t know everything! Besides, I know that Malia Obama is going to Harvard!”
My friend rolled her eyes at me! “OMG! That news is so a billion years ago! Are you kidding? She’s already studying at Harvard and she’s not even a freshman anymore! Plus she’s dating a…!”
Okay, maybe I’m a bit backward! Old fashioned! Outdated! I don’t watch TV (I feel like it takes up a lot of valuable time) and when I go online, it is usually to listen to a good sermon from Pastor Joel Osteen and Bishop T.D. Jakes or to do some academic research online. One of my favourite authors is Thomas Friedman who wrote The World is Flat whom all my friends claim not to know….come to think of it my friend and I may be about the same age but intellectually and socially perhaps there’s a generational gap there. I hope I’m making sense.
Anyway, the ongoing conversation in the car was so heated and interesting that by the time I realized that we were definitely NOT heading to where I initially thought we were going (the aforementioned lodge), we were perhaps halfway up a very steep hill (or should I say very steep mountain) and I let out a terrifying scream!
I felt that the car, which was heading dangerously uphill, was almost in a vertical position facing upwards (even though the other ladies who were in the car disagree and claim that the hill wasn’t that steep). To our left was the pure solid rock wall of the mountain and to our right was the edge of the cliff leading to a bottomless pit. One wrong move and we would all have been free-falling many millions of miles down all the way to the rocky bottom of that dangerous cliff! (The other ladies claim I’m exaggerating but I swear I’m telling the truth!).
At one point I was screaming at the top of my voice while trying not to look sideways towards the bottom of the cliff! My friend found it hilarious. (I later discovered that she secretly recorded everything with the intention of posting it online. I was so embarrassed when I saw that video that I begged her not to upload it on YouTube! She charged me fifty bucks to delete the video).
At some point she made a turn, driving through a tiny road between bushes and when she finally stopped at our destination, I couldn’t believe my eyes! I may be old fashioned or outdated but perhaps she needed to Google the definition of the word retreat! Retreat my foot!
It was a gorgeous three-story house, I’d give her that! Like she’d promised, it was isolated from the world alright but what the heck? Was she trying to get us all killed? It was a glass house, a glass house that was literally in the middle of nowhere! Not a human settlement anywhere nearby. I tried to make a call and when I realized that I couldn’t get network from anywhere inside and outside the house, I alerted her to this fact to which she happily responded “That’s the whole point! No calls from work or bothersome exes! Just a week of fun, calmness and relaxation. Come on Tilly, aren’t you the one who’s always bragging about the fact that you love just being away from everything and everyone? Well, this is away from everything and everyone.”
I felt conned! Cheated! Deceived! She kept boasting about the view from the top floor but all I could see was a dense forest surrounding the house, which happened to be almost at the top of the hill. And as far as I’m concerned, dense forests house the most dangerous animals, poachers and other criminals, all of whom are only too happy to prey on unsuspecting young ladies who place themselves in harm’s way by staying in glass houses in the middle of the forest. So while the girls were busy celebrating our arrival to what they termed as an exotic getaway, I was busy panicking and wondering what course of action I would take if a hungry lion showed up at the front door, or if an elephant barged in from a side door, or if a huge snake found its way in through an air vent or some other opening somewhere, or worse still, if a bunch of armed criminals managed to shoot their way into our exotic glass house?!
What a week! The girls had lots of fun, spent a lot of time swimming in the huge swimming pool on the terrace and even went out to explore the surrounding areas! They even claimed to have seen a Tiger but I know for sure that they’re lying because they lived to tell the story! I on the other hand was tense and worried all week long, especially when the girls went out of the house (which I refused to do), but I still managed to put in a few hours of work and added a few more pages to the novel I was writing.
All I can say is that I’m glad we all made it out alive, but I will never, ever go back to that exotic place ever again!
Have a blessed weekend!
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