Lessons learned on the road traveled
December 21, 2013
OTHER VOICES, Maj Ruess
I've never been that person who can jump into the unknown with no idea of what's waiting. Never been able to go out into the world with nary a plan or idea. Or so I thought.
My friends and I decided to travel overland from Lisbon to Cadiz on this trip. We planned to go from Lisbon to Seville by night bus and then on to Cadiz to meet the ship the next day. At the last minute, our accommodations fell through, but we decided to go anyway. That night we got on the bus bound to Seville.
It was an uncomfortable night with much twisting and turning, finding any position that was deemed somewhat comfortable. We arrived in Seville at 4:30 a.m., an hour earlier than planned after a sleepless night … with nowhere to stay. I must admit we were somewhat befuddled, not really knowing what to do so we sat in the empty bus station finding our bearings. Finally, we decided to just start walking in some random direction and explore until we could decide what to do. Luckily enough, we walked toward the city center.
Incidentally, while we were walking around, exploring the city, all the clubs were beginning to close. We walked past what sounded like a disco at one point and met a very nice young lady in a pirate hat who swooned about Seville in broken English. This was extremely comical to us in our tired state, so we walked around with her for a bit until she had to go home.
Now after we left her, the exhaustion really set in, so we decided to start looking for a hotel room. Unfortunately, it seemed luck was not on our side. We wandered the streets, going into hotel after hotel, always being met with the same reply, "We're full." We kept searching, until we finally found one that we could check into that day at noon … so we kept walking, waiting for the sunrise by the river. We went back to the churro place, explored alleys some more until finally going to a Starbucks where we promptly fell asleep, waiting for noon.
Although when we got to the hotel early, I think the woman at the front desk took pity on us and let us check in early, where we promptly took a nap before going out to explore again.
Walking around Seville at 5 in the morning is not the way I imagined my trip to go, but seeing this beautiful city with its cobbled streets and old buildings wake up was one of the most amazing points of this trip. Being able just to let all my anxieties and fears go, to walk into the unknown with no plan or idea of what to do next. The city looked completely different, its quiet streets filled with nothing but people slumbering quietly in their houses and the occasional drunk individual just returning home from a long night of reveling. The city at night had a totally different look and feel to it compared to the city during the day.
I've never really traveled on my own, independently. Every aspect of my travels were usually planned or lead by someone else. I was never able to just let go; to go wherever the wind takes me.
When I remember that frightened little girl in London at the beginning of the voyage, the one who didn't even want to leave the hostel, I can't believe how far I've come. I have become so much more free in my traveling style, being able to go into the unknown with more confidence. I am so grateful for the things I have learned, so grateful to have had this experience. I have become more than a tourist on this voyage, I have learned how to be a traveler.
Maj Ruess lives in Nevada City.
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