Murphy’s Law – if it can happen, it will. Saturday morning was no exception.
Lesson 1: Double check the AM/PM selection on your wake-up alarm…and maybe skip la discoteca the night before a weekend trip.
After oversleeping, missing our bus, and getting lost en route to the station, I was more than thrilled to finally arrive in Málaga.
My excitement soon dissipated. Graffiti and gang signs covered the city walls, tarnishing ancient brick with splotches of erratic neon color. To the left, a dried canal of stagnant, forest green sewer water. To the right, a dilapidated government housing complex, draped with zig-zagging wire lines of raggedy clothing.
Stray animals scurried across the filthy streets. Our cab zoomed past smoke shops strewn with bullet holes, rundown corner stores, and dozens of malnourished homeless men and women. The driver stopped at an alley and motioned toward the darkness.
Lesson 2: Don’t completely trust the internet or TripAdvisor. Hostel pictures on the web don’t always match the real deal, and a four out of five star rating is relative.
Once we checked in at Casa al Sur, I was overwhelmed with frustration. I spent my hard-earned money on this trip, suffered through a whirlwind of a morning, and was missing my Dad’s birthday back home. Bouts of homesickness set in and I could sense small tears of helplessness forming behind my tired eyes. I’m stuck.
Blinded by my impatience, I was ignorant to the hostel’s charm. I frantically called the bus station in an attempt to arrange an earlier ride home. Within seconds of speaking to the operator, my Spanish phone ran out of minutes. I’m stuck.
I knew that needed to deal, to explore, to breathe. I gathered the essentials – my wallet and my camera – and headed into the dirty streets. I walked briskly. One block. Two blocks. Three blocks. Then, the scenery suddenly began to change.
The gum-stained concrete transformed into slabs of shiny marble. The smoke shops turned into quaint corner cafes with live flamenco. Out blew the sticky, thick air and in blew a refreshing seaside breeze. My viewfinder captured the cathedral and the historic shopping center. The town bumped with authentic tunes and the sweet sensation of vibrant culture.
Change. I had left housing projects and been teleported into in a modern Spanish beach town and euro vacation paradise. All I needed was a little exploration.
Lesson 3: Don’t judge a book by its cover! You never know what may surprise you.