"So - who are you?" a smiling 40-ish women asks us.
We are having breakfast in a quaint teahouse on the water in Queen Charlotte City. Ten of us, all women, all talking at once about our next adventure. This woman's curiosity has gotten the better of her. She has left her male partner alone at their table by the window.
I can't quite remember our reply. Probably something like, "We're just a bunch of women who love to travel and have adventures." I'm glad that as a group we appear approachable to this woman. We have spent five days learning to sea kayak and camping together on the Queen Charlotte Islands, so our bonding as a group is pretty tight. Still we remain open and friendly to anyone who would like to join us. In fact we can hardly wait to share our enthusiasm with anyone who will listen.
She leaves me her name and address and I promise to put her on the mailing list. As usual at the end of a wonderful experience, we begin to dream of our next escape. "How about the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in March?" someone suggests. "Yes!" we all agree, our eyes sparkling with anticipation. I know some of us will really do this trip. We know how to do this now. We know how to make things happen at this stage of our lives.
And what an exciting time in our lives it is! We range in age from 30 to 65. We are beginning to know who we are and what we want. We want the simplicity and solitude of nature, we want the camaradie and support of other women, we want the challenge of leaving our 'comfort zone' in order to grow. This week we have laughed together until the tears rolled down our cheeks, cried with each other and for each other. We've learned from each other and taught each other. We've had a chance to be alone too.
"The great thing about travelling with other women is, we don't have to explain how we feel," exclaims Gail.
We finish breakfast and an entire glorious day stretches before us until we have to board the ferry for home. We set out alone, or in twos and threes. We need down time to reflect on our last week and just be in the moment before we get back to our busy and sometimes complicated lives.
Yes, I think at least one week a year for just ourselves is a minimum requirement for happiness and health. It's good for the body and good for the soul.