I was ready for the adventure.
I was looking forward to finally get out of the house and become an independent adult. It was a bumpy ride to independence but at that moment all that mattered was to get to North Wales. Couple of days before my flight I shared my plan with my brother. As much as I loved him I thought it was better to wait for things to clarify, before revealing my plot, just in case he would be trying to talk me out of it. He remained loyal and didn't tell my parents. Only years later he would still hold it against me, as if my trip to Llandudno was the catalyst for all the bad stuff that happened to me afterwards. If only I stayed in the country. If only I stayed home.
The night before the flight I ordered a pizza and went to see my friend for a night movie marathon. I can't remember how I smuggled a backpack full of clothes without looking suspicious but I think given the general chaos at home it must have been easy enough. At the time I was sleeping at my grandma's, since my dad was having alco rages and I was scared to go back to our flat.
I remember taking the last tramway, leaving my neighborhood and thinking I don't know when am I going to see it again. Now it seems funny and over dramatic but it really was a big deal for a young girl. With pizza in my hands and a head full of thoughts, I was on my way to a different world. It was only the beginning of becoming me. Excited and anxious, I didn't think for a moment to back down. I'm really an awful liar, I can't lie unless it's concealing the truth or using more convenient words to describe the same thing. To match my story, there was a movie somewhere in the background as well. But mostly I was packing and getting anxious before my morning flight.
The journey was long. I had to catch the morning plane, then get to London from the airport and take the train from Euston. Everything was delayed and I was worried I would miss the only train to Llandudno. Even the train had to take another route because of some flooding of the railway. Other than that everything went smoothly. I arrived, it was cold and windy and awkward. I met my new family and thought that they will realize soon I can't speak English and will send me back. The hotel owners were a couple of former teachers. A tiny lady with grey hair and a strong character and a big tall bearded guy looking like Santa Claus and always trying to make everyone laugh. They had an emo daughter. They were the sweetest employers I've ever had and took care of me. It was a sad discovery later on that not all the employers were going to be that lovely. I had my own ensuite room and enough time to wander explore the neighborhood. I decided to work 7 days a week, since that's what I came for - I wanted to earn as much as possible. At the time I wasn't that much into churches and cemeteries to map them around and Llandudno wasn't a particularly exciting place itself. It seemed like a lot of elderly people loved it as a nice little holiday destination.
I wasn't exactly terrified but I was about to find out that the term "learning disabilities" is quite vast and the people I was meant to assist were 19-80 years old and of a very different "level" of disability. Some of them you wouldn't say they had any. Some required constant assistance. It wasn't my job to take care of them directly, I was assisting in running the hotel. Cleaning, serving breakfast, making bed, cleaning the toilets, cleaning the oily kitchen, the usual. The whole idea of the place was to provide some kind of entertainment, variety and social life in lives of guests who normally would spend time at home with the care assistant. We would have a new group every week, some guests would stay for two weeks. I used to be that person who didn't know what to do when facing someone disabled. Well, very quickly I learnt that there is actually no difference, there is no magic formula, being a compassionate human and treating others in a human way is a good answer in every circumstance. The lady owner though - she didn't fuck around! She had no problems putting her guests in line, I suppose it was a habit she took from her teaching career. I know she meant well and there were situations in which she had to be firm.
We were going for day trips - nothing too extreme since we had a vulnerable crowd with us but I must say it was quite fun, even for me. We went to Liverpool, which was awful, I didn't fall in love. The city seemed unfinished, random, flat and grey. Sorry, Beatles. Chester was pretty, I especially liked the zoo. Who doesn't like the zoo. Probably some awful people. Well actually, forget about it. Zoo is a cruel idea and awful are those who invented them. Save all the animals. Speaking of zoos. One of the usual spots for day trips with our people was the fairy woodland zoo. I completely forgot about it until lately when fairies seem to be very present in my every day conversations. When you think about it, it could've been much more developed idea. I have visions of wonderful elf and fairies lands to visit, even as a tourist attraction but this one was simply a zoo with random animals and a lot of fairies statues hidden all over the place. My favorite were definitely llamas. Our team loved feeding the goats. I might even have a picture of me somewhere as I make friends with the animals. Surprisingly, cause at the time I wasn't really keen on pictures. I wanted to be a dancer and a model. At the same time I was hating my body and discovering Cadbury chocolate.
For some reason I remember being tired most of the time, falling asleep on every opportunity. I wonder why. I seemed just really really exhausted. As we were driving through the Welsh landscape I was awake for long enough to daydream and wonder where the hell will I end up in my life. I remember the tiniest house in Britain, the famous town with the longest, unpronounceable name, a farm, even ruins of the castle. What castle was it? Oh, if only I could remember all these places! It will take some detective work and an afternoon with a map. I remember fishing in a calm lake and a beautiful village. One place I am almost sure of was a magical land of slate. Yes, slate. Diving Quarry in Llandberis, I think that's the name of the place. I regret not having any pictures as words fall short trying to describe the mysterious atmosphere surrounding it. Now when I think about it, we've been to quite a few nice spots.
I made no friends for the entire 3 months I spent there. I remember that one time when my friends from Poland visited me. It was a great surprise! This crazy pair was hitchhiking through Europe having adventures and they decided to say hello and bring me a glittery pink unicorn as a gift. Their presence there was the greatest gift. It was a pretty lonely time but also a time of big reflections. When I wasn't working or travelling with our team I would just walk and explore. The main landmark was of course the Great Orme dominating the landscape with its majesty. It was a good place to be and I was extremely lucky that was my first experience abroad. It gave me the courage and curiosity for future adventures. Not all of them had a happy end. It's all part of the experience. To live and learn, travel and make mistakes.
I fell in love with the magical land of Wales and I promised myself one day I will be back. I fall in love with places like I fall in love with people. Sometimes it's love at first sight. Sometimes we take time to get to know each other. The other times we fell out and have to fix things to make it work again. Wales is definitely sparkling with magic and mystery and I'm curious to discover more of its secrets. One day I will return to explore the North Wales and take all the pictures to show you where it all begun.
I will be back soon with the rest of the story on where life took me...