I’ve been holding off updating my “About me” section since overhauling the travel blog into the official Caffi Kiki website (and more importantly overhauling my lovely, carefree life and becoming a small business owner)
But it’s been six months now, so I guess I had better accept that it has actually happened.
I graduated from King’s College London four years ago with absolutely no idea what to do with my French and modern Greek degree (much less my life) and decided to embark upon an open ended “gap year.”
I did three ski seasons (Alpe d’Huez, Courchevel and Verbier) working in hotels to perfect my French (and more importantly my snowboarding!) I taught English in summer camp in Italy and in a state school in Colombia, learnt Spanish and started a travel blog. I spent my summers backpacking and started to have some success with my writing, but in classic millennial style, even though I was living my dream, I lacked purpose.
I indulged in some shameless navel-gazing and started compiling a mental list of the things that made me happy (grudgingly accepting that snowboarding all year long was not a viable option) and realised that food, the outdoors, and good company were pretty stable factors.
I also realised that I was at my happiest when I was busiest, when I had a project- no matter how challenging (try teaching English to a mixed ability class of 40 Colombian teenagers!) but although I loved being driven and passionate about my work, I still couldn’t overcome my dread of the high-flying job that I always thought I would want by now.
Can you see where this is going?
I was living in the Swiss Alps and weighing up applying for an Australian working visa vs going back to London to get a “proper job” when I heard that the lease had come up at the cafe. All of a sudden it seemed like everything fell into place, all my experiences of the last few years seemed to have been pointing towards this.
Some of my favourite memories were the evenings spent cooking with other travelers in hostels or house shares, bonding over recipes from our home countries and treats that we’d learnt along the way. I had a vision of doing this in my hometown, bringing the world to Blaenau Ffestiniog on a plate. I realised that I had spent most of my adult life in coffee shops, so why not make a living out of it?
Not only was I passionate about the food side of things but I also saw the opportunity to carry on teaching. I was flooded with ideas of different community workshops, conversation classes for Welsh learners, French and Spanish clubs, maybe even yoga practise. I had rose tinted visions of spending rainy days working on my novel, days off in the mountains and short breaks to visit friends and family now that I was at least on the same continent.
I came home at the end of April and spent a whole month painting, sanding and planning. I opened in June and by the end of my first week I had a calendar slowly filling up with bookings! I was overwhelmed by support from my local community, and saw Blaenau in a completely different light after being away for so long.
I spent the summer tactically avoiding my Instagram feed and refusing to go on holiday in the fear that I wouldn’t want to come back. By Autumn however, I have realised that I don’t want to leave. I haven’t even started on the projects that I have in mind for the cafe yet, never mind the novel and the mountains!
(Tl;dr- I was a travel bum, I like food, I opened a cafe.)
Hello and welcome to Kiki’s Cafe! As you may have guessed, it’s not actually a café, but is still best enjoyed with a mug of Earl Grey and your choice of pastry (or three.)
I’m trying to stay away from the oddly contagious travel cliches of Instagram to describe my nomadic but actually not that nomadic life. I basically live and work abroad, (in Colombia at the moment) teaching English or working in hotels, depending on the season, my mood and my bank balance.
Winter means snowboarding, cheese and red wine (it sounds glamorous if I leave out the toilet scrubbing) and summer means backpacking until I run out of money followed by more teaching.
I write about my travels, my food, my teaching experiences, and about whatever is pissing me off at that particular time (currently my teaching)
I’m not good at gushing life affirming posts about finding myself and I don’t regurgitate travel guides taking selfies at hidden gems that I’ve ‘discovered’ (it’s 2017, no you didn’t)
But if you’re interested in honest, self-deprecating travel stories, click follow 🙂