09 Jun On Leaving Spain and Searching for Adventure
As the children piled onto their bus we heaved a huge sigh of relief. Our last English camp was over, work was finished and we were free again. Minutes later we were speeding away from the tiny Spanish village into the countryside, towards a fresh adventure in a brand new country. As I watched the sun beat steadily down on the passing fields of red poppies, I hoped that the next chapter of our travels would be less turbulent than this one.
On Leaving Spain
We spent our last night in the country in our favourite Spanish city, Barcelona. We bought pastries from La Boqueria market and got swept along with the crowds down Las Ramblas to the harbour where we sat and ate, watching the sun slowly set over our time in Spain. There were no tearful goodbyes when we boarded a plane the next morning; while I’d learned a lot from the trials and tribulations of the previous months, I was happy to be moving on. Instead, I was filled with an excitement I hadn’t felt since we road tripped through the USA last autumn: the anticipation of a new adventure.
Searching for Adventure
During our time in Spain I felt an itch building inside of me, a fierce longing for travel and adventure. I often found myself pining for something more intense and extreme than Spain could offer and would regularly reminisce about our travels in Asia and dream about the countries we’ve yet to explore. Andrew and I spoke longingly of our upcoming trip to Eastern Europe but also of hiking and volunteering in Nepal, traversing Sri Lanka and visiting Japan. A photo of the Bolivian Salt Flats had us planning an itinerary for a South American trip, researching flight prices and obsessively reading blog posts about faraway lands.
What was it about Spain that ignited this desire for adventure? I never felt that same intense itch when we were living in Vietnam because for all its craziness, our life in Hanoi was full of strange new experiences and everything felt like a constant adventure; from buying groceries at the street market and riding a motorbike to work to celebrating TET and taking trips to rice terraces, rainforests and caves. I’d often turn to Andrew at the end of a routine day in Hanoi and casually recount something like: “Oh, today I saw a live pig strapped to the back of a motorbike”, or, “I walked in on a Vietnamese teacher using the communal squat toilet at school and she didn’t even bat an eyelid.”
Although we visited some beautiful parts of the country, this sense of adventure was missing in Spain and I’m not sure exactly why. Is it because we were immersed in a European culture which is familiar to us? Perhaps it’s because Spain is so close to the UK and so many British people live there? Did the trouble we had in Madrid put us off? Or maybe we just didn’t click with Spain in the way that we have with other countries? I suspect it’s a mixture of all of these things but for whatever reason, Spain left me longing for a new start.
A New Start in Croatia
I squinted through the bubble-shaped window of the aeroplane as our pilot announced that we were passing over Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Sure enough, I could make out the grey line of the city walls and red clay roof-tops clustered at the foot of a mountain overlooking the topaz sheet of Adriatic Sea. As we disembarked into the bright morning sunshine I felt my travel itch start to fade: our new adventure in Croatia had begun.