Finding healing through travel

Tshepo Maphanyane
EXPLORING: Moatlhodi

At a quick glance she comes across as a picture of perfection, a woman having the time of her life exploring exotic destinations without a care in the world.

One would never have been none the wiser of her pain masked by her seemingly fabulous life of travel and bucket list experiences.

It is only on closer inspection and a heart to heart chat that she shares her journey.

Following the loss of her mother in 2018, Gaone Moatlhodi was overwhelmed with so much grief she barely coped.

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Describing her feelings, Moatlhodi says; “it was as if I was in a bottomless pit and could not drag myself out. It was a dark lonely place”.

With visible traces of sadness, Moatlhodi goes on to say she had initially not realized how hard her loss had affected her.

“I guess I had not taken the time to mourn. I just did not deal with the loss. I got wrapped up in what needed to be done then back to work.”

Unfortunately, it was at her place of work, that it became obvious that the once gutsy go getter was not doing well.

“Working in sales there was an expectation to meet with clients and secure business. I was not productive. Five months passed and I had not made a single sale. I was struggling to be upbeat and interested in work,” she reveals.

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And then the guilty set in.

“I felt like I was wasting company time and money. And therefore it would be better to quit and deal with my grief.”

Eventually she took the plunge and had the difficult conversation with her superiors and it was agreed that both parties would part ways amicably with an agreement to return when she got better.

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Having always been keen on yoga, the following month, which was April Moatlhodi, went on a yoga retreat in Thailand.

The experience left her rejuvenated. “I absolutely loved it and best of all I felt so much better. I came back home convinced I would do it again.”

Back home, Gaone made the decision to pursue yoga extensively.

However, she was at a loss of where to start.

“There was also the need to fully embrace this decision and like so many people, I had been orientated to hold firmly to one’s job, accumulate material possessions, get married and raise a family. A predictable existence no one questions. But What if you feel differently?” Moatlhodi probes.

To honor her mother’s memory the daring Gaone managed to transcend societal expectations and pressures to choose living truthfully.

“In dealing with her passing, I also recognized I had not been fully honest with myself and kinder to myself. Many times, I put everyone else’s needs before my own. I have gotten burnt by some relationships and still gave loved ones the benefit of the doubt. After a while it all takes a toll on you. You can either ignore the nagging feeling that all is not right or do something about it,” she philosophized.

Despite not having a solid plan or destination in mind, Gaone made the decision to seek the peace she had once enjoyed through travel.

FOCUSED: Moatlhodi

Her first stop was Cape Town in August before heading to Bali for a second retreat.

This time around a monthlong silent healing retreat.

The Indonesian destination is famous for well-packaged offers ranging from combinations of wellness, detox, beauty spas, meditation and teacher training yoga retreats.

“All set in a serenity needed to be at peace with one’s thoughts”.

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“The peace is definitely addictive,” she said

The second visit cemented her interest to pursue yoga through travel.

“For the first time in a long while I was genuinely happy and excited. It was in India where she got a teacher training certificate, which allows her to be an instructor. (This will also aid me to self-fund as I can take up piece jobs at retreat centers.”

Perhaps as a celebration for confronting her pain and conquering unfamiliar territory, Gaone took on Europe.

Touring Portugal, Spain, Italy and France.

“At first it was daunting travelling alone, then once I got comfortable, I allowed myself to enjoy it. The whole experience was exhilarating.”

Although she had planned to return to Botswana after the holiday tour, a conversation with her younger sister who is a PHD student in the UK has led to a detour.

“I wasn’t ready to go back to the all too familiar environment. It may be easy to slip into old habits and feel hopeless again. My sister suggested that I visit her so I did.”

Although Gaone does not have a plan and is unsure of her prospects, she is adamant that her UK stay is a better option that returning home for now.

“I have changed my ticket and given myself six months to figure out my next move. I may not know what the future holds or where I will be in a few months but I am comfortable with my choices. All I know is anything can happen, just do what makes you happy and life will dance with you,” she said.

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