Waking up on a Saturday morning is a hard task on its own. When my alarm clock went off at 9am the first thought on my mind was: “Why am I going sight seeing right now?” Nevertheless, we all showed up on time and filled in the bus, ready to go. The destination that we had in mind were the Witches’ Caves. The bus ride including stops for sight seeing and stopping for food took probably around 4 hours. My energy was at an all-time low. I thought my body was going to fail me. But it didn’t, when I saw the Caves and the beauty of the naturally formed rocks and the water that flows and drips to create a background noise that could only have been described as serene, I only felt amazement. When Professor Z told us that we were then going to hike for 15 minutes to see a lookout of the surrounding area I was excited. The same person who was slumped in his seat was ready to trek up a mountain to see the countryside. Looking back at it now I’m still surprised I wasn’t dreading the Saturday morning hike.
I had never been out of the country before going on this trip, so I had just assumed that it would be like any other family vacation. I would be dragged to places that I wouldn’t want to go and I would deal with the obligatory tourist destinations in exchange for the time off from responsibilities. I first realized that this would not be the case when we drove to the city and we were driving through valleys and mountain ranges, me staring in awe.
This feeling of wanting to explore and see everything is completely new to me. If I spend any time in my host mother’s house, it feels wrong. Not because she is a bad host mother, she is great by the way, but because I have the freedom and opportunity to see something new everyday.
Which brings me back to the Caves. I knew what was in the Caves before I left for the trip, I saw pictures and even voted to go there at a pre-trip meeting. This simplification of traveling by myself I think has been limiting me. I saw the Caves in the photos, but I didn’t experience the Caves. You smell the humidity, you feel the smooth rocks that have been eroded by water, and the most defining image, the light creeping in from the mouth of the cave illuminating the stream that runs through it.
I’ve been thinking, and I’ve come the conclusion that the difference between this trip and the ones that I’ve gone on previously is independence. When I’m going on a trip with my family, I never have time to breathe. I never really have time to really take in what is happening. This trip has opened my eyes to what travel is meant to be.
People always say they want to “See the World” but I think that’s wrong, you should want to “Experience the World.” I have been seeing the world for my entire life leading up to this and what do I have to show for it? I can say “I’ve been to this city,” but what does that do for me more than just being another notch on the belt. I would say San Sebastián is the first city that I have truly lived in besides my home town. I know how to walk around this city better than Boston, and I’ve been here for 2 weeks while I’ve been going into Boston for my entire life. I’ll tell people here that I’m from Boston to make explaining where I’m from easier, but this trip has made me think about the meaning of what I’m saying. This trip has made me want to go back to all the cities I’ve visited over the years. I want to experience those cities rather than just go through the motions.
This trip has given me something that no other city or place has been able to for all my nineteen years, an appreciation for the world’s places and the different things and culture you’ll see in it.