On Pottery, Doors, Fish and Where to Chill Out
It’s so easy to get caught up with our day-to-day duties, working long hours and feeling giddy about conquering our to-do lists at the end of a long week. Tasks mark the beginning of our journey and reaching the finish line becomes all too consuming that sometimes we forget to eat. We hit the ground running and boom! We’ve made it through the day. We’re proud, and the sheer thrill of accomplishment keeps us going for days, even months, without a moment to reflect.
But what is at stake is not just our sanity, our barometer for a happy, healthy soul. It’s our ability to continue to produce new content while outplaying what’s ordinary. A chance for us to chase our passion; rejuvenated and perpetually inspired.
With that in mind, the Flavor Republic team drove south to the city of Fayoum for a weekend of fishing, shopping and much needed time together away from the office. For two days, they walked the narrow streets of Tunis, awestruck by the mud brick houses, ceramic selection and gorgeous old doors.
For them, it was a chance to reflect and spend time together without the stress of work. A welcome journey where the hustle and bustle of Cairo was temporarily replaced by a quiet, picture-perfect Fayoum.
The experiences left a different impression on each one, and below are snippets of their stories from that weekend.
This retreat unconsciously created a test of time management, of collaboration and of teamwork: trying to plan the day together and sticking to it and planning to do things separately but meeting in the end were both examples at play.
I enjoyed how chilled people were in Fayoum, they don’t care if you come and go; they don’t care what you do or what you wear. Coming from the busy, loud and nosey Cairo that was a nice change of pace. The air was cleaner, and the noise level was much lower.
I noticed few things about Tunis that I found iconic: there seems to be a continuous stream that flows under their streets, no matter which street you walk in, you’ll always hear this little waterfall of water below you. Everyone seems to have kept their old doors and never thought about repainting them, which is great, because it was in the most perfect used condition. I wished we could have taken all of them and used them as surfaces in our shoots.
We also bought some really pretty pottery from Tunis. Looking at them in our prop closet, they now look much prettier than when they did at the shop.
My most memorable moments were when we were sitting all together at the dining table, through breakfast and lunch. It felt like if this were the only thing we would do during the trip, it would still be a fun trip. I was happy to spend some personal time with the team, without being towed by work. Laila is such a low maintenance girl; we all had pull-along carry on suitcases, and she was off with a trip in a duffle bag – so cute. White fish really didn’t like Hoda, and I believe Mahy could have stayed in that pond forever, fishing quietly.
Fayoum left rather an artistic mark on me. I initially thought we were going to do team building activities where we’d get a chance to get to know each other, although I think I already had an idea of who everyone was. Looking back now I realize I traveled with people who are very artistic – actually, extremely artistic. While walking through Tunis, I felt each and every one could create art from anything that we laid eyes on, whether it was a door in the middle of a crushed wall, an animal, a window or just kids running across the street. The amount of doors we saw… beautiful!
Everyone made me realize how little things can still be beautiful, how you can capture something that was left behind and change the way you look at it, turn it around to make it seem more valuable. I kept on asking: “So you would take this door and not paint over it?” And the answer was, “We wouldn’t change a thing.” Every time they’d say that, I was wowed.
I see myself as someone who loves nature and greenery and the little things, but this trip made me realize other little things that I felt only this bunch saw. I felt I was around very humble people. Everyone is really, really talented in their own way, and I’m really happy I’m part of this team. After this trip, I felt like I have a lot to learn.
I really enjoyed this short trip. Fayoum is a really cozy place, I loved everything about it. The clean air, its humble yet productive people, their doors, and – last but not least – fishing! I was also surprised by Lake Qaroun. It’s beautifully huge, something I didn’t expect.
I wish I could live like this forever, clean weather away from the city, fresh and healthy food – we even got our herbs and lemons from Kom El Dikka’s own garden.
I love our team. Everyone has his own personality. I loved spending time with them, I feel like they are my family now. We also missed some people who couldn’t make it, like Hanya, our head of communication and social media (my personal comfort person) — oh how I miss her and Sara, our studio producer.
I think my big takeaway was the realization that we’re all on the same page with regards to sharing and affecting each other’s workload. Now, on the other side, I’m going to use the clarity I got from the retreat to do amazing stuff with this team.
**Endless gratitude to Kom El Dikka for hosting us, feeding us and lending us their garden.