Jul 17th 2014  

 Travel diaries

Day Zero

All went according to plan. Everyone arrived at the airport on time suitable attired and packed, checked in, no traumas going through Security, no one lost on the way to the Gate, all on board.

Most slept through the flight after early morning wake-up calls and to preserve energy for the days ahead. As we were disembarking, politely responding to the “thank you, goodbye, thank you, goodbye” one steward looked at my tracksuit and broke his patter – “there’s loads of you, why didn’t we notice you before?”. Murmurs of “we were asleep, we’re very well behaved…” and a light of comprehension dawned on his face, “Ohhh, you’re ninjas!”. No time to disabuse him.

No lost luggage and cars collected, we tried a new route to base camp. Disperse through the village, and so to dinner. I have been dreaming about this food for days, and there were no disappointments. Tzatziki with roasted aubergine and courgette, risotto with tomatoes, green salad with herbs, local sausages, fried potatoes, and chicken from the oven. Sitting there by the sea with the sun going down, meeting old friends, bliss.

Day One.

And the well-oiled machinery of training camp gets underway. Run, stretch, breakfast, beach.

Nice and early in the day, and there’s still plenty of shade on the beach looking out over the glistening bay. As training continues the beach fills up a bit. Some people stand and stare, clearly not thinking we’re ninjas. Some grumble about people moving around on the beach instead of lying still training their skin to change colour. Quite a few are quietly accepting of these fit muscular people stripped to the waist rubbing sun cream into each others’ backs, and flexing their muscles. Takes all sorts.

Lunch already feels like the endurance part of the training, as internal pressures rise and fight hard-won core strength. We’ll see what wins this week, though I have a inkling which way it’s going to go.

Like snakes that have swallowed entire prey, we haul ourselves back into traditional stone-built burrows in the mountains to sleep off our meal.

Afternoon at the Symposium, a specially built semicircle of stone benches around a central speaker’s stool. There is a self-regulating mechanism to keep discussions to the point as the rough stone digs into the back of trained backsides and thighs. Centring, feeling balance, being at one with the world, breathing correctly, giving no quarter.

Off to dinner so will update the deliciousness tomorrow