I enjoy pretending that I'm mercilessly self-assured and entirely independent. Truth is, neither of those statements could be any more false, at least not yet. There are very few trips I enjoy taking alone.
¿A donde vas? (Where are you going?), Loli (My home-stay mother) asked.
Uhm, I'm going to hike the entire, stunning coast of Santander, where else would I be going an hour past sunrise on a Thursday morning? To be fair, she had a legitimate point. Why would any sane human being hike part of the Spanish coast that early on a Thursday, especially when that senseless human didn't arrive home until 2 am that same morning.
¿Vas solo o no? (Are you going alone or no?)
Damn right I'm going alone! I secretly wanted to unleash my inner Christopher McCandless or even Cheryl Strayed, if you're an immense Reese Witherspoon fan. I knew it would be a f'ing blast! I chucked a few tapas (snacks) in my bag and was off. The locals aren't even up that early. I mean sure, a few overzealous college kids are lackadaisically promenading to class. Other than that, the only mammals that crossed my path were a few of your mainstream squirrels. Oh yeah, and a couple pigeons.
I mean don't get me wrong, if a friend or fellow gallivant-er were to accompany me on this audacious trek up the coast, I wouldn't mind. However, the cracks would immediately appear in my not so vigorous shield of self-assurance. Also, my attitude I exhibited to my host mother earlier would look utterly fake. Would you want that?
In all honesty, sometimes it's necessary to have a gallivanting buddy. You never know when you'll need that kick in the ass or when you'll need someone to take that astonishing picture for you. No one likes a selfie, especially when the idiot has his tongue sticking out. What a nitwit!
I had a specific destination in mind. My heart was set on getting to that one site of beauty, snapping the picture that would earn me 30 likes on Instagram and getting my ass off the miniature mountain! It was only a matter of time before I would be drenched in this monsoon that was visible out over the ocean.
A voice rang in my head though. It was most likely Mumford & Sons as they were babel-ing to me at that time yet I'm confident and convinced it was my Obi Wan! "Jared, trek through the soggy patch of grass to the right. You'll find what you've been looking for." That soggy patch of grass was simply an entrance to a vacant park that I couldn't pronounce to save my life. Again, I didn't have any plans of taking the road less traveled. All I was looking for was an elegant picture of the coast that would rack up 30 likes on Instagram. That's it!
Little did I know, the spot that Obi Wan led me to allowed me to release my inner Chris McCandless. I was hopping from wet, mossy rock to wet, mossy rock. Desperately trying not slip and drown myself in the puddles left over from high tide (Another reason to have a trekking buddy). I spotted that lone hippy-like fisherman who looked like he was having a rough day, evoked a brief conversation in Spanglish and was on my way. My adventure couldn't be any more comparable to "Into the Wild".
I bet you're still wondering when the tightroping is going to come into play. Well, the cliffs off the coast are very steep as you can imagine. Steep enough to have my mother look the other way. The designated path paved by other nomads is narrow, more or less hazardous. The wind is vicious! I'd post the other selfie as proof but between you and I, let's pretend it was never taken. All together, it's an exhilarating nightmare to say the least, one that I'll certainly jump back into next week!
It's one hell of an experience journeying alone. Less time is spent illegally carving your name into that graffiti-ed wall. I'm not saying that you should tell your friends to kick rocks on your next trip to Pizza Hut. Never do that! However, you should yank that excursion buddy out of bed when they plead to you their alarm didn't go off, especially when you're certain they would enjoy the journey as much as yourself. Traveling alone will still land you a new sense of empowerment, a stronger relationship with yourself and a new concept on the vast world we live in. Next time, take that fellow gallivant-er with you and bestow your priceless journey on them. I can't stress it enough, someone has to be there to save you from taking that utterly embarrassing selfie that surprisingly did earn 30 likes on Instagram. Thanks!