After spending the weekend exploring Park Güell and Bunkers del Carmel with Asha, I was excited to spend another day being active in nature. My classmates and I took a hour and a half bus ride to Costa Brava to tour the old fishing town of Calella de Palafrugell. The town preserved a room for dyeing hand-tied fishing nets made by the women. The women would also lay out the nets on the coast after the men fished to check them for tears to repair and work in the markets to sell the fish that their husbands caught. I found that this symbiotic relationship between the men, women, and sea was very empowering since every person took part to create a strong community.
Right next to the fishing boats was a small beach with families relaxing and snorkeling. Leila, our guide, noted that convenient locations along the beach attract tourists while the locals visit the more secluded areas. I found that this migration of the locals due the tourist influence was disheartening because the locals had to preserve their town in such a way that attracts tourists and their money. Unfortunately, as much of a hassle as tourism is to the locals, it is a necessary evil in terms of staying financially competitive. However, many of the locals at beaches further along Costa Brava are fighting the influx of tourists on vacation in hopes of keeping their beach untouched.
The second half of our excursion involved hiking 8.5 miles and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. While the physical challenge of the hike was less taxing than I expected, even through steep hills and nerve-wracking unfenced stairs, I found the mental challenge exhausting. I am very future-driven and struggle with being in the moment, so I kept feeling unsettled during my hike. The hike was a time for reflection and enjoyment of amazing scenery, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing out on something. When I work at home or at school I often daydream of doing other things, but feel guilty if I decide to relax. I know this mentality is dreadful, so I was hoping a change in scenery might change my thought process.
When I was grumbling about having cuts on my feet and rocks in my shoes during the hike, Kasia said something that made me reevaluate my mentality. She said that she found the rocks to be worthwhile reminders of the crazy adventures we had that day. After taking her positivity to heart, I realized that my fixation on my own physical and mental experience was diminishing all of the “firsts” that Costa Brava involved. In just one day: I went on my first hike, I swam through a clear saltwater sea to reach a rock formation, I relaxed in the sun on a beach, I changed into my swimsuit in a bunch of bushes, I steered a ship, I blew on a conch shell, I ate fresh watermelon on a boat, I laughed and sweat with my friends. While I temporarily dealt with scrapes and seasickness, the memories from that day will stay with me forever. Now it’s up to me to choose what to remember.