Time to board- A care leaver’s story

All I knew was that I was going to be going abroad for a proper holiday, not to say I didn’t have an amazing time in a static caravan in Wales the previous year. I was 12 and this would be the first time I would leave the country and the first time I would be flying, and I was very excited. My Foster Carers had suggested that we go to sleep at 19:00 however I was on a holiday buzz and I wasn’t going to sleep. I stayed up to watch TV until 22:30 where we all started the rush to shower and change before embarking on our car journey to the airport for a 01:30am flight. We all loaded into the car and there was a silence as my brothers and sister fell asleep within 10 minutes of the journey.

I sat watching the dark streets blur past the car window and it wasn’t long until we were pulling into the airport parking facilities. At this point, we started what felt like half an hour walk from the parking facilities to the airport itself. Despite weighing my suitcase after almost every item of clothing I was nervous that my case would be overweight. My brothers and I made bets on the weights of each bag. I was now five euros down.

Going through security put me on edge as my first experience with airport security would be the first of many checks. Of course, I would be asked to go through the full body scanner tube. I was so embarrassed and as soon as I was through, I regrouped with my Carers. A few airport security jokes later we journeyed through duty-free, I was amazed at all the high-end brand and products. I was ready to splurge all my pocket money when my Carer reminded me how annoyed I would be if I waste my money now.

Time to board, and I had a rush of different emotions, I was nervous I was flying, excited I was going on holiday and happy to be in another country in about 4 hours. I won the window seat, but there wasn’t much to see outside apart from the lights from the airport building. I settled into my seat, and the plane’s engines began to whirl up as we were going to begin the flight.

We took off, and I never forget the first time I felt that sensation and feeling that taking off gives you. Once we were up in the air, I looked out and saw all the lights across the city it was amazing. My brother hated me because I had the window seat to take in the view and within 10 minutes, I was falling asleep. I woke 2 hours into the flight and was startled by the sight out of the window of the wing of the plane bouncing and flexing. My Carer explained that the wing must flex, bend and bounce to enable the wings not to snap off.

I listened to music for the rest of the flight and time soon passed. We began our descent to the island of Rhodes, and I could see the lights scattered across the whole island and I was ready to get off this plane. The plane came into land and I was so excited I didn’t even realize we had landed; I was already grabbing my bags when my Carers insisted we waited for everyone else to get off. I remember the wall of hot moist air just hitting me as I walked out of the plane door it was intense.

We hopped on the transfer bus and were dropped off by an inlet area of the airport, where we were greeted by a series of security kiosks where we provided our passports and were waved through. We grabbed our bags from the conveyor belts and met our coach outside a short 15-minute ride to our hotel. We were given our keys and picked up on go-karts to our rooms with our luggage, it was about 06:50 when we arrived, and I wasn’t tired despite only sleeping 2 of the last 24 hrs. I lay in bed and I was out like a light.

The breakfast was amazing with all different types of foods from across Europe to choose from, and I wanted it all. We all had our fill and discussed the plan for the day. My brothers and I returned to the rooms to get ready to explore the facilities that were on offer to us. We visited the Blue Bay hotels Water park and 6 swimming pools which were only seconds away from the sea. Our balcony view was looking out to sea and in the distance, you could see Turkey. For the first day, my younger brother and I explored and abused the free all-inclusive ice-cream and fizzy drinks by making coke floats on holiday.
The second day we learned of the free entry bands for the water park for hotel residents, so we spent the whole day there briefly seeing the rest of our family in passing. I loved the freedom that this holiday gave me. At the water park I made friends with others around my age, and we grew close very quickly. Before the end of the day, we were all hanging out while our families were at the evening entertainment; Karaoke wasn’t my thing.

One evening my mates and I walked to a restaurant in the hotel complex called Pegasus. I felt very mature going for a meal without parents and Carers at a restaurant; of course, while in this foreign country I thought I must try some of the traditional Greek food. I ordered a burger however it counts as exploring with food since I had halloumi on it. It was delicious and my love for halloumi had begun.

I was a different person on holiday. I could be whoever I wanted to be, and it allowed me to recreate myself. As far as these people knew I wasn’t in foster care, I’m with my dad and new stepmom.

On this holiday I was still exploring my fashion sense in terms of clothing. I had all different styles of clothing I wore on holiday from a bright red button-up shirt to purple chinos or trainers with my name embroidered on them. That one look I promise won’t happen again, but I have one outfit which I still bring out once a year and it is for partly Irony and all novelty. I still enjoy a truly awful Hawaiian shirt the goofier the better with short Cream chino shorts!
The final day of our holiday felt sad. To be honest I feel once you can’t use your own room the holiday is already over. I was incredibly upset, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t throw a strop leaving the hotel on the coach to the airport. However, my Carers took one look at me and reminded me to not ruin the week that we have all shared, which had been incredible, and I will never forget.
My first holiday was amazing, and I looked forward to each holiday in the years to follow, they were all different and special in their own way.
Story By Iddi Cayman CFT Apprentice and Care Leaver

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