"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."--
04.08.2010 - 04.21.2010 0 °F
How does one go about creating an amazing blog entry nearly five months after returning home from the great place she’s trying to write about? I’ll start by explaining the delinquency in finishing our ever so popular Euro blog. I was going to let Audrey write about our amazing two weeks in Malaga, because she is obviously the better descriptive writer. Almost immediately after our return to the US, Aud had to re-pack her bags and go to London then Miami for job training. During this time, she asked me to finish the blog, which I had full intentions on doing….until I sat down at my computer. I had the worst writer’s block EVER. I think it was a combination of living up to Aud’s great blog entries, not wanting to remind myself that I wasn’t in Europe anymore and that instead of a few days of exploration to translate to our great readers, I now had two whole weeks to sum up. I tried multiple times to start the Malaga blog and each time I closed my computer unsuccessfully, I secretly hoped Audrey would come to my rescue and finish it for me.
Instead of trying to describe everything perfectly, I’m going to write more about the impression those two weeks made on me and the memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
It was Aud that had the genius idea about Malaga. A few weeks prior when we were in Berlin doing some trip planning we could not decide what to do with our last 12 days in Europe. Audrey said, “Why don’t we just stay in one place and use the rest of our train passes for day trips? “ And since the cold wave was on our heels throughout most of our trip, we both agreed that we should try to stay somewhere warm and preferably with a beach nearby. We sealed the agreement with a high five and immediately searched our map to look for the southern most areas of Spain. Malaga it was.
We used Malaga as a vacation from our vacation. After a month and a half of walking tours, train rides, and sightseeing, we were thrilled to do the exact opposite and park it in one place for the duration of our trip. The first couple of days we slept in, did laundry, and got our bearings on our temporary neighborhood. During those two weeks, we alternated our days between train trips to other cities and enjoying the sights of Malaga itself. We took day trips to Cordoba, Sevilla, and Granada and some of the most amazing views of the Spanish countryside. Through the entire duration of our stay, there was a cultural festival underway in downtown Malaga. So when we had time to kill we would wander down the boardwalk, snack on the various delights, and browse the trinkets from countries all over the world. Our favorite spot to hang out…besides in the kitchen with our hostel mates…was just down the block from our hostel. Across the street from us was the ocean. There were several jettys composed of huge boulders and we just happened to find these two rocks shaped just like Lazy Boys (not as soft and squishy obviously). At least once a day we would sit on our “chairs” with our toes dangling in the Mediterranean. I would usually journal and Aud would read. We would also have the ever-so-important girl talks regarding which of our friends we thought would be married having children first, or where we saw ourselves in 5-10 years. Not to mention recapping our favorite stories and inside jokes from our many nights on the road.
Even though this all sounds fantastic and dreamy, it still wasn’t my favorite part. What stole my heart about Malaga were the people we met while we were there. A small group of us were there for a week or longer….and not all by choice. Remember the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano ash cloud fiasco?? Many of our new friends watched helplessly as flights were slowly cancelled in conjunction with the ash cloud creeping across Europe. The positive side of this (for me) was that all of these people were scheduled to leave the weekend before my birthday….but now they were all forced to stay. By the time my birthday rolled around (which was only 2 days before our return to the US) we had quite the “family” at Sol Backpacker’s Hostel. We had all bonded while playing cards, exchanging jokes, and sharing our various budget friendly meals night after night.
The morning of my birthday, Audrey got out of bed before me and had a special birthday breakfast on the table when she woke me up….Travel Partner of the Year Award hello! Upon devouring my breakfast and wiping the sleep from my eyes, I notice a no-bake chocolate contraption on the community table adorned with aluminum foil flowers and origami birds. Complete with “Cat” spelled out in licorice. This “birthday cake” was made in the wee hours of the night while I was sleeping by Sally and Dom, the delightful and hilarious English couple. As I was about to get ready for the day, Colm, our favorite bunkmate, handed me a card complete with music notes composing a tune he wrote for me.
Here I’m going to copy and paste a perfect description of Colm that Audrey actually started when we were in Malaga. It‘s so fantastic I had to include it and wish we had her fabulous descriptions of all our new friends:
~Colm is a ray of sunshine. He is happy 24 hours a day. He is a 30 year old musician from just outside of Dublin who enjoys the pub and good ale almost as much as he enjoys playing the Irish Whistle (his instrument of choice). Colm's wardrobe consists of: a white t-shirt, either forest green swim trunks or jean trousers (Irish for pants) with a Texas long horns belt buckle, plain brown leather shoes and if it is a bit chilly outside a white and black plaid flannel shirt. His shirt is always tucked in and his pants are always hiked up to the navel. My mind obviously went to "Oh goodness does he wear the SAME thing EVERY day?" but after about a week of speculation we were told "I was at the Dublin Airport & I knew that I was gunna be cooped up on a flight so, I left me bag by me departure gate so I could take a stroll and stretch me legs. When I came back it was gone." We aren't sure if someone walked away with Colm's bag or if airport security put it through the shredder thinking it was a bomb. Either way, Colm had to buy some new pants (Irish for underwear), some new socks or he downgraded from a custom 180 pound (money not weight) whistle to one that he found for 5 Euro in a shop here in Malaga. He wakes saying "Top of the mornin' to ya" each day and is literally the happiest person that I have ever met. ~
So, back to the most amazing birthday ever….
My favorite thing about that card is the fact that it’s obviously in Spanish and is clearly a “congratulations on the new baby” card. But the fact is Colm went out of his way to find a card for me, someone he barely knows. Later that day Lena, the girl from Canada, joined Aud and I on the “recliners” for adult juice boxes and girl talk. After spending a few hours in the sun, we headed to the grocery store for party necessities. Audrey treated us to the fixins for mojitos from scratch. Lena opted to make her delicious guacamole. The best part of the day was watching everyone help make the mojitos using the variety of utensils found in the hostel kitchen. During this Betty Crocker meets MacGyver moment, a new arrival to the hostel (Emily from Montana) set her bags down to check in, asked what the occasion was, and said “I’ll run down to the store and get some meat, cheese, and crackers to snack on so I can contribute to the party.” About an hour later as the sun was beginning to set, there we were, all seven of us in birthday hats carrying kitchen pots full of minty fresh mojitos and balloons down Calle Bolivia. Cars were honking and strangers were gawking but I didn’t have a care in the world. As we sat on the beach watching the sun set into the mountains sipping mojitos from a soup pot, I sat back and observed this scene. I felt like absolute luckiest girl in the entire world at that moment. How many people can say that a group of strangers from various parts of the world chipped in their hard earned travel money (that they were running low on due to the ash cloud forced travel extension) to make their birthday one of the most memorable ever? The events and camaraderie of that day will stick with me forever. Amazing monuments, culture, and world history aside…the memories of that day will forever be the highlight of our 64 days in Europe. I will never be able to fully put into words what those kind gestures meant to me. Chance encounters like the ones in Malaga are the core reason that I travel and will continue to travel for the rest of my life.
I would also like to thank the best travel partner ever for giving me the opportunity to fulfill several of my wildest dreams. Without Audrey calling me up one day and saying "So....I think I'm gonna backpack Europe for two months" shortly follwed by, "So come with me..." I'm not sure if I ever would've done it. I mean I would've eventually travelled to some of those places at some point in my life....but never in the way we did it. That trip certainly changed the way I view the world and I truely feel that anything is possible. Thanks to you, Aud.
Till the next great adventure....