If you’re like me, you’ve had those moments when you do something and think, “that’s probably not the best choice” but you do it anyway, and then later tell yourself, “I told you so”.
For example, I’ve consciously set sunglasses on the floor thinking, “this will probably get stepped on later”, only to, in fact, step on it later and crush it. Kind of like when you put eggs in your car and think, “I need to remember that these are eggs,” but you don’t. You waltz right into your home and sling your groceries around like a discus thrower in the Olympics.
This is a story about one of those moments.
It was time for my “day friends” and I to part ways. The Frenchman was going to Morocco, the Canadian was staying in Seville for a few more days, and the Brazilian was going to Madrid. And me? Well, I hadn’t decided. The internet in the room I was staying in was so bad that night that it frustrated me every time I tried to look up a place to go.
The heat from Seville had clouded my thinking. Part of me wanted to follow one of my day friends, but I knew better than that. I couldn’t piggy-back their trip if it wasn’t what I wanted. Before I had checked out of my hostel one of my hostel-mates had mentioned that he was going to Malaga.
Malaga? Yeah sure, ok, let’s go to Malaga. Did I know anything about Malaga? No. I knew it had a beach though. “You’ll figure it out when you get there” I kept telling myself.
So, I took a 2-hour surprisingly comfortable bus ride to Malaga.
The buses are quite nice in Spain. Air conditioning and movies, what more could you want? However the bus stations themselves are a little hectic. Slow service, long lines, etc.
I arrived in Malaga and fear set in. This was a city. There were big buildings. Dirty-looking buildings.
What had I done? What would I do? Where was I going to stay? This wasn’t at all where I should be. I raced around for my trusty Rick Steves bible finding no information whatsoever about Malaga, other than a sad face and subtext that basically described Malaga as “not so charming.”
It was already afternoon and I needed to decide. I knew that this wasn’t the place for me. It was just a resort town. Nothing historical, no old buildings, no unique landscape. I noticed a nearby town called Nerja that I had circled in my guidebook as a possible destination so in a split decision I bought a ticket and boarded the next bus to Nerja.
Here’s when I learned something that I already knew.
- It’s ok not to have a solid itinerary, but book your room before you travel to the city.
- You don’t know when you’ll have wi-fi again after you leave the comforts of your hostel.
I arrived in Nerja without a map or a place to stay, but thanks to the Canadian in Seville I had learned:
- Your GPS will work on your phone via satellite.
- It doesn’t cost you a thing, just make sure that you are still in airplane mode.
I used the GPS to scope out pension hotels and hostels in the area. Long story short, all of the cheap places I walked to were full and they wouldn’t even let me use their internet to look up a place to stay.
My eggs felt crushed.
I walked into Hostal La Ermita: desperation written all over my face. There was one room. $70 a night (they were even nice enough to let me use their internet to look for other places). For hotels in late summer, this is a fair price, (the air conditioning was even included) but I had planned to pay between $15-30 a night during my trip. I could feel my frustration boiling to the surface of my face in the form of tears. I was silently cursing myself for marching gallantly into a town thinking I was Samantha Brown and everything was going to be handed to me.
I took a deep breath of realization and forced myself to relax.
I kept repeating this to myself. I had to make myself believe it, otherwise I would dwell on this mistake for hours, maybe even days. My time here was much more valuable than time spent regretting things. I’d already lost too much of it trying to commit to the decision I knew that I had to make.
I could lose the day and spend money traveling to the next city, or I could stay here, take advantage of the comforts and privacy of the hotel, and promise myself to never again travel onward without a reservation. I bit the bullet and paid for the room (the receptionist actually knocked off $10 since I looked so hopeless, God bless her).
At this point, all I wanted was to go to the beach. So I did, and it was amazing.