Costa Brava translates directly to wild coast and that is an accurate description of the rocky
coastline along the Mediterranean Sea; filled with small beaches, wildlife, and boat houses owned by the locals. To me, our excursion was based on hiking the coastline and observing the nature and surroundings and how physical activity is linked side by side with nature. Having prior experience of endurance running and being in the middle of training for the Chicago Marathon this October, so I was looking forward to hiking Costa Brava. To be completely honest I was expecting the hike to be a little more of a challenge, with a tougher terrain. At the same time, I had to keep reminding myself to keep an open mind about the excursion and that I was not soley there for the physical aspect of hiking. That I should not be expecting the hike to go a certain way.
As a group, we began our day at a small fishing village called Calella de Palafrugell that is alongside the Costa Brava. Having only slept a hand full of hours I was still eager to begin the day. Our tour guide Layla gave us a brief history lesson on the old way of fishing and how Havana, a type of music, is such a great influence on the culture. Layla also mentioned how once a year gathering of Havana’s are held in that village and many other surrounding villages. Reflecting on the time spent there I remember noticing all the different artwork encased on the buildings. Though a lot of the small village have been shaped to fit the needs of the tourist, hints of culture are still held tight in the paintings and homes.
Once I began the hike from Calella de Palafrugell to Palamos, which is about an 8-mile hike, I was extremely excited because I knew I was in my comfort zone. On the hike, I spoke with Layla, and she specifically asked me if I noticed any tourists. As I looked around I did not besides another group who were being led by a guide. I asked myself how such a beautiful nature trail could be separate from civilization. Layla said the reason for that is because the people of the region fought hard against the government to not allow for any modification to the land by adding department store and restaurants to attract tourists to the beaches. This helped me draw a comparison to what is natural and what is man-made when it comes to nature.
Though the hike itself was not as challenging as I expected I found the value of the experience of the hike outweigh the terrain. Costa Brava being composed with many different hiking trails connecting one beach to another, but when looking closer none of them were made with the intention of bringing big crowds. The lack of safety rails, the narrow rocky paths, and no maintenance to the vegetation of the area clearly showed no intention of drawing tourists to the area. Comparing it to the I&M Canal Trail back in my hometown of Joliet Illinois, though it is a long trail it has many sections that are covered with asphalt and areas maintained by the city that takes away from nature. Costa Brava, with the lack of safety on trails and tourists, opened my eyes to the knowledge of how nature should be used to enhance physical activity. There is a loss of connection to nature when performing physical activity; whether it is walking, running, or biking; is done in a synthetic environment like paved trails. Not only was this experience eye-opening, but it also made me appreciate the connection I have with nature a lot more.