by Ida Radovanovic
My first impression of Ikaria was: I don’t like it. Over the years I’d been to many Cycladic islands, I worked one summer in Paros, I loved Hydra, Paxos was a place I wanted to go back to… But on my first morning in Ikaria, I called my sister in panic: what will I do here for 5 days?!
Needless to say, it’s now my special place. So what happened?
1. Life is more simple and less is more
First time I went to Ikaria I moved between 1 beach, 1 bakery, 1 supermarket and 2 tavernas. For someone who usually likes to see and do everything, the total opposite proved to be very freeing.
Although I am very grateful to work remotely, it also asks for a lot of energy and adaptation. So I’ve learned that it’s very helpful to have some stability and that I don’t want to make 37 unimportant decisions every day. I did some research and science confirms this too. ‘The paradox of choice’ explains that too much choice brings indecisiveness, and in return makes us feel more anxious, depressed and as if we are wasting time.
In our village, I can work from my room or from Puerto cafe. Perhaps if I feel like changing, I can mix it up with a 15-min-away-town-cafe. And I enjoy the consistency of it. Swimming during lunch break? Beach is a 3 min stroll away. Gyros? 4 min up the road.
This is super convenient after work too. You can enjoy sunset beers at the beach or go to some local music. There is usually one event, and everyone goes to the same place. And you can find out through a bulletin board poster (!) or even better just ask around. As I surrender to simplicity, life feels effortless and more fulfilling.
2. You belong
Is it quarantine, existentialism or just the nature of remote working? I am not sure, but I do know that now, more than ever, I appreciate connecting with other people. I am usually a very social person but in Ikaria, it’s just at a different level.
For instance, a few days after arriving, people in the supermarket somehow knew (and addressed me) by my name; A rushing taverna owner said I should come back another day to pay. I had never felt so accepted and at home so quickly.
Because of its authenticity, the island also attracts interesting people. Last summer, Natalie who is a social entrepreneur and runs ‘Terrorists of Beauty’ became my accountability buddy. But apart from her, I also met fishermen, beekeepers, marine biologists, other digital nomads, island bar owners, movie makers… And it is all these people that keep inspiring me with their approach to life and their businesses.
3. You live in the wilderness
Stars, salty air, pine trees and figs, mountain and beach. One of my friends says Ikaria has any kind of landscape you want. Even moon-like terrain and oblique giant rocks. There is also something about the wind in your hair or trying to ride a wave that makes you just be (in the present moment). And creating from that state of self, I find it gives a rewarding and meaningful way of both living and working.
4. There is something magical about the island (life) and where it takes you
Should I really hitchhike, at midnight? Elma said, yes! A motorbike away and I arrived at Rebelos bar. Four hours after lets-have-one-drink, we hopped into a jeep with the guys to go to a secret panigiri. It was a full moon night, we passed through a gate and found a white paved road to a tiny church. ‘Are we in a movie?’, I asked.
Some say the island enhances your feelings and gives you what you need. Others say it helps with healing. Who knows? I believe I am drawn back over and over because I am still after this answer and enjoy exploring it.
In conclusion: Go wild for a while
Ikaria is not for everyone. But if you want to try a slower pace of working and more simple, wild life this might be your island too. It has stolen my heart. Will it do the same for you? 😉
Ida went for 5 days, but stayed for 2 months with her laptop in Ikaria. She is a founder of Playground, an anti-procrastination platform, and now hosts Coworking Island life. She believes in kindness, curiosity and solidarity. Currently exploring: 80% ‘perfect’ is good enough.