As my adventure in Sevilla, Spain came to a close I turned my sights on a new type of adventure. Upon the ending of my study abroad experience I boarded a 3 hour train to Jaen, Spain, transferred to a 2 hour bus ride to Carzola, Spain where I then spent the night in a nice hotel. The next morning I woke up and enjoyed a breakfast of coffee and bread, before I began my first attempt at traveling by hitchhiking. You see, I was attempting to travel to a farm, or granja, in the middle of the Sierra de Carzola.
This farm not only required a train and a bus ride, but also a 40 minute drive up the beginnings of a mountain range and then a 3 hour hike through said trees. I hoped to catch a ride up to the beginning of the trail. I stopped by a local store to buy some snacks ( cookies) and began walking. I quickly learned that it was better to stop walking when the cars drove by for two reasons: there was very little shoulder on the road and I needed to get out of the way, and I figured my chances of getting a ride were more likely if they could see my face. About 10 minutes in I began to feel worried, these cars weren’t even slowing down; do people even hitchhike in Spain? What do I do if I don’t want to get into the car? Although these thoughts had crossed through my mind previously I find the act itself usually brings my concerns to the forefront. I was also not at all interested in the prospect of hiking between 10-12 hours in the middle of a 100 degree day. Thankfully, five minutes later a car slowed down and offered me a ride. There was a nice couple in the front and I decided to take the risk and get in the car.
After a clumsy greeting in Spanish (for some reason it’s harder to speak spanish when I get into a strangers car and am nervous, shocking I know) the couple asked where I was from. Upon my revelation of my USA origins the woman states, “Oh thank god, that will make communicating much easier). Turns out the couple were visiting from the Netherlands and I knew English. There were very nice, expressed concern for my plans to hike, offered me water, and then dropped me off at the start of my hike.
This hike was incredibly beautiful (the location of the largest continual field of olive trees in the world) , and also one of the hardest things I have ever done. Following directions from an email sent by the owner of the farm I began looking for things like ” The third ruin on your left” and “the second gate that has a red bandana”. After what felt like a long time I sat down trying to get a break from the sun and to figure out where the heck I was. My stomach dropped all the way to my feet when I realized I had been forgetting a whole page to my directions. With no watch, I estimated that I had been walking for over 3 hours. Something didn’t feel right with where I was, and the direction I was walking so I decided to turn around. I looked over my directions and thought I may have missed the “the second road on your left after the lookout/house”. At this point I had almost run out of water, judging by the sun it was about 1 o’clock, and I was starting to get dizzy. I began taking pictures with my camera to beginning marking the passing of the time. One hour later I reached the turn off I had missed and began climbing the almost vertical hike. Four hours into my hike, I no longer had the energy to worry about my situation and could only focus on two things: “Dont sit down, if you do, you will not get back up” and “keep walking”. Words cannot describe the feeling when I rounded the corner and saw the farm in the distance. I stumbled onto the farm in the middle of the siesta asked for some water and then crashed on a bed, waiting for the others to return.