The Ash Victims

I believe I’ve mentioned that one of the great things about Edinburgh is the plethora of student societies.  In an effort to become a bit more zen I’ve started attending yoga classes regularly at Bristo Yoga School, home of the Edinburgh University Yoga Society.  Classes are a steal at only 5 pounds each, or 4.50 with the yoga society membership.  A friend of mine who also goes to classes regularly suggested that I come along on a yoga retreat in Southern Spain.  As we get a generous three weeks for spring break at Edinburgh, I couldn’t think up any reason not to go.

I arrived at Malaga airport stressed and in desperate need of relaxation.  The first two weeks of my break were fun filled but decidedly un-yoga like.  After a windy, hour and a half drive into the hills outside of Malaga (hello, carsickness!) we arrived at the house where we would be staying for the next week.  The house itself was almost ridiculously picturesque.  It was nestled in the hills of Southern Spain, and had a beautiful terrace overlooking a tree-filled valley.  We got our drinking water from a natural spring, for crying out loud!  There was a great group of people staying at the house.  Every morning, we’d wake up at 7 and do an hour and a half of yoga.  Then, we’d have a huge breakfast of muesli with about six different toppings.  I was a bit worried that the food would be a bit measly, particularly as the leader of the retreat was suspiciously thin.  Fortunately, however, we all had huge appetites, and the food was plentiful and delicious (let’s be honest though: I’m pretty sure I ate the most of anyone there).  After breakfast we would lounge outside on the terrace, reading until lunchtime.  Some days we would walk up to the (surprise, surprise) ridiculously picturesque town, which was right at the top of the mountain.  All of the houses were whitewashed and nestled between little windy streets.  After lunch we’d do another yoga session, then have dinner and go to sleep.  Staying up past 10 pm was pretty much living on the edge for us.

All in all, it was a really lovely, relaxing week.  We were completely isolated with no Internet.  The odd text-message from home occasionally got through, such as the one I got from my mom that a volcano had erupted in Iceland and the ensuing cloud of ash had grounded all flights.  This was a Thursday, and as I was supposed to fly on Saturday, I didn’t think anything of it.  How wrong I was.

All of the accumulated calm was obliterated in the last few days.  Everyone’s flight was cancelled.  We spent a lot of time in an Internet café, desperately trying to find alternate ways home.  First we decided on the ferry, then rescheduled flights, then the bus.  Panicked travellers everywhere were also trying to book, so all the phone lines and websites were completely jammed.  I had to get back for exams, and I finally got a ticket on a bus.

Let’s just say, all of that yoga would come in handy.  I do not recommend the 37-hour bus ride from Malaga to London.  Our drivers didn’t speak a word of English, so none of us could be sure when we were actually supposed to arrive in London.  It didn’t help that we kept taking 40 minute breaks every 2 hours, usually at rest stops that were only equipped with one bathroom and a handful of snacks.  All the travellers were stressed, and I got into a minor war with the people sitting behind me.  Let me say for the record that one should be able to put one’s seat back on a 37-hour bus ride.  Finally we arrived in London.  No trains from London to Edinburgh that night.  There was a very cheap bus that went overnight, but I just couldn’t face it.  Instead, I stayed in a nice little B&B near the train station and got the first train out in the morning.  For dinner I took myself a lovely nearby Indian restaurant, and I’ve never slept so well.  That very night, they announced that flights would resume.  After the bus, the train seemed the equivalent of travelling by private jet, and the last leg of my journey was wonderful.  I’ve never been so happy to get to Edinburgh.  I’ve decided never to travel again.



  1. Kevin says:

    The Study Abroad Fair gives students a chance to speak with program directors and past participants as well as take advantage of on-the-spot advising with trained study abroad advisers.

  2. Kevin says:

    Studying abroad can add to a candidates ability to view other cultures that shape who we are and guide us along the path of life. By doing things out of our comfort things we may not have initially chosen to do, we gain invaluable experience!

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