Despite a genuinely unusual cold storm that apparently almost brought life on Vancouver Island to a grinding halt earlier this week, I arrived at Comox Int’l Airport on schedule yesterday afternoon. I was picked up by Vasili, the loquacious co-owner of Fresh Start. He gave me the low-down on the history of the program while I rubbernecked at the snow-covered scenery. As advertised, the Ocean Resort hotel and retreat center sits only meters from the water; the view is spectacular. I took the photo from the deck of my room.
My retreat group consists of 6 people of wildly varying age, gender, health status, and occupation. I am the only non-Canadian. Part of the program includes bonding with your fellow retreaters–kind of like camp for grown-ups. So far, so good–we seem to like each other. They’re not holding my country of origin against me.
My hotel room is simple, modern, and attractive. It smells like a yoga studio, which fits with the ‘Namaste’ sign beside the door. Beds are comfy, linens great, and the toiletries organic and yummy-smelling. As part of the retreat, each participant gets a goody bag of handmade body products specially formulated for her or his health needs. (Based on the 15-page questionnaire you fill out before you come.)
One possible problem may arise if I have a bad day–I’m on the second floor and there’s no elevator. Ocean Resort does have rooms available on the first floor, but even these aren’t truly accessible. Neither the hotel nor the retreat center building are set up to handle wheelchair-bound clients; though it wouldn’t be impossible for someone using a wheelchair to do Fresh Start, it would be a whopping hassle. But for the determined, particularly if a determined group of disabled travelers wanted to come to Fresh Start, Vasili and his program director/wife Ania will do everything they can to make it work.
The level, paved path from the hotel to the retreat house would be less problem for a wheeler than for a hiddenly disabled traveler having a bad day–it’s not long, but it’s more than just a few feet. (And it’s cold. Have I mentioned the record-breaking cold snap they’re having here? Have I???) So far I’m negotiating it okay–wearing a sweater, a wool overcoat, wool scarf, hat, and gloves. (It snowed on me on my way back to my room to write this.)
We’re easing into The Program today, with two meals plus a number of fresh juice drinks, and only about 2/3 of the usual daily activities. I’ve already found two changes in myself–I’ve had only one hot flash in 7 hours. And my fingers, which have been stiff and painful every day for the last 8 months, don’t hurt today. They’re not stiff on the left, and only a little stiff on the right. This despite the COLD. I’d not seen a doctor about them yet because I didn’t feel like hearing “yes you’ve got proto-arthritis.” But if only one day’s cleanse can make it go away…wow.
Tomorrow we dive in headfirst with the full-body cleanse. I’ll report back in a day or two with details…especially about the food.