Dates: 5pm Fri 24 July, 2009 to 3pm Sun 26 July, 2009
Location: Point Wolstoncroft, Central Coast, NSW
Account of the Weekend by Joy Mozzi
Kids in a Candy (Fruit) Store
As a child visiting grandparents in England, we used to visit the lolly shop on the corner...a paradise of glass jars filled with rainbows, all shapes and sizes. Sticky, sugary, syrupy, gummy, rock hard inorganic substances, artificial colours, toffee that glued itself to teeth, peppermints that eroded the enamel, sugars that left you thirsty, fake sickly sweet smells, tummies that ended up nauseous. Hmmm, I think my tastes have changed somewhat.
Standing next to the boxes and boxes of fresh organic fruits and vegetables at our retreat created waves of pleasure and anticipation. Dragon fruit! Oh my, what a treat! Tons of them just for us and lemonades, juicy sweet lemons cross between a lemon and a mandarin. Pineapples, tropical delights, plump juicy tomatoes and sweet oranges, shiny green zucchini, a box of kiwi fruit, avocadoes, salad greens, baby capsicums, bananas, medjool dates, fresh macadamia nuts still in their outer shell. Sigh, such bliss - Raw Food Heaven.
Have you eaten a jakfruit before? First time for me, bigger than a football with pale green skin covered in hard points. Kim & Wayne opened it up and separated each ‘aril’ as the golden fleshy pods are called, a very long process and filled up a huge bowl for us all to try. The tall, good looking, built like a young Adonis, Ranger of the retreat centre came down to introduce himself to us, was given his first ever taste of it and didn't want to leave. Staring at a young Adonis while eating jakfruit is a sublime experience, staring at a young Adonis while he is eating our jakfruit is not.
Grant split us all into 3 teams for meal preparation and washing up, works quite well. Orange team took first shift for dinner - couldn’t wait to get our hands on the dragon fruit! Using correct food combining principles which Grant is a master of, we had an explosion of colour on our plates, sure beats a candy store anytime. Glistening ruby red dragon fruit, energized orange, soft green kiwi fruit served with bowls of leafy greens. And followed by the ever popular zucchini pasta created on Grant’s new ‘toy’ with an avocado dressing. Wow!
Many willing hands got the 3 dehydrators going with racks of bananas dipped in orange juice. Ali, Bill & Amanda arrived about 9pm traveling all the way from Canberra, now that’s keen! Hats off to Bill for making the effort to come and see what the retreat was all about. At his age this was a motivating example to everyone how it is never too late to improve your diet and ultimately your health. Hats off to Nicole too who arrived with 3 month old Sienna and still helped out with coring apples and cutting produce with baby snuggled in the carrier attached to the front of her body.
Bright clear sunny skies Saturday morning for our yoga session with Gyan down near the lake, a view of silky silvery water, birds, serenity lying on our backs looking up at a tracery of white gum branches woven against the blue sky with kookaburras laughing at our contortions. Some of the guys had slept outside being at one with nature and fresh air and also followed this crazy action with a swim in the icy cold lake. Mad. I tried to come up with a proactive word for mad and found MAD. My raw food lifestyle has not extended to sleeping in frosty fresh air with the possibility of creepy crawlies visiting my sleeping bag or my nostrils during the night. And throwing my warm, skinny body into a freezing cold lake…. Nah.
Those of us sleeping in the 7-bunk rooms enjoyed eventful nights reminiscent of school camps with noisy people, doors opening and closing, snoring, frequent toilet trips and heaters turned up full blast that dehydrated the backs of noses and throats in a crackly kind of way. But then we had less than 48 hours together, who wants to waste that precious time sleeping?! Fortunately these few minor inconveniences were balanced out by the absolutely terrific time we had in between.
After yoga we had a magnificent melon breakfast and our dehydrated bananas were ready too, sweet ‘n chewy - beats toffees any day. Then we sat in a circle enjoying the morning sun by the lakeside while everyone introduced themselves and we had a Raw Talk. Some of us set off to do the walk to the scenic point while the Sapote Team got lunch ready. We came back to tables laden with big bowls of green salads, ripe sapotes known as the chocolate pudding fruit, bowls of organic bananas with sultanas, creamy sauces and green smoothies. Food combining really does make sense and is not that hard to do.
After clearing up we had another Raw discussion and then played games. Divided into teams we relived our youth (some of us only mentally) hopping, skipping, doing wheelbarrows and playing with oranges. We were duly rewarded with a packet each of dehydrated fruit & walnut leathers that Grant had asked me to provide. Marly (minus the sassy oranges) offered to do a meditation for us, a nice way to relax after our games. Ian, who is a musician, quietly played his didgeridoo during the meditation, a very special unique experience.
Banana team to the kitchen! Others to the table to prepare apples this time for drying overnight, juicy organic apples sliced up on the apple peeler corer slicer, makes life so much easier. Dinner was a delight - stuffed baby red capsicums, yellow sweet corn, raw coleslaw, dehydrated cauliflower with tomato salsa, big platters of ‘waffle’ zucchini with sauce followed by Yay! Banana ice cream!
Ian got all his musical instruments out to share, so everyone could have a jam session. Boys, it was good for a while but after a couple of hours of unrehearsed drum beats, I was ready to beat the drum on someone’s head….. Half the group had gone to bed early in the hopes of a good night’s sleep. Silly, you’re not supposed to sleep on these weekends! Yet another night of frequent toilet activity, snoring and banging doors. Maybe the MAD crowd sleeping outside on the shores of the lake with only the sounds of nature to lull them to sleep really do have the right idea.
A lovely Sunday morning yoga session with Gyan to warm us up and get the blood moving on a grey cold day. Another tropical breakfast delight with pineapple, melons and our dried apples while we discussed how little sleep we had... Luke gave an informative talk on the benefits of sleep and how important it is to have those 12 hour nights sometimes. Mmm, I cannot remember a 12 hour night, ever. In the real world with jobs, families, hobbies, businesses, life, what a challenge that would be to say “Do not disturb for the next 12 hours”.
Final lunch, no one would ever starve at these retreats. Grant is always more than generous in catering for us and giving us treats like medjool dates, dragon fruit, durian, jack fruit and fresh coconuts. Talk about spoilt. And we all got boxes of leftover produce to take home.
Each meal was unique in its combinations, flavours and textures and people ask "But what do you eat?" Next time some irritating mainstream person says that, hit them on the head with a corncob and tell them to get their poor bodies along to the next retreat.
So come on Grant, when is the next one?
Eco villages: how do you decide if an eco village is for you, what kind of people would you want to share your lives with, how do you make it work? Ivette and I discussed this on the 2 hour drive back to Sydney and came up with the answer.
Have a retreat together first, nothing like being up close and personal for a few days with lack of sleep to bring out the best and worst in folks. Some people were unfailingly happy, smiling and helpful no matter what, some seemed to forget it was their turn to help out preparing food or washing up, some have no patience, some are noisy but overall Raw Foodies are such nice people!!