Below is my Positive Experience response from July’s double dog dare.
In college, I hit the jackpot. My randomly assigned roommate became my best friend. This was highly unexpected. My family spent an entire summer coaching me on how to get along with a roommate and not be their friend. They were concerned that I was a lot to handle and a lot to love and perhaps my best approach was to be amicably distant.
The first night in college Carissa and I bonded over a shared cheese steak and a bottle of Captain Morgan. It was that simple. We were kindred spirits, but we were also exact opposites. I was tall, athletic and adventurous. Carissa was short, reserved and wise to the ways of the world. I spent my money on booze, concerts and travel. She preferred clothes, pedicures and going out to eat. It was no surprise sophomore year when I became obsessed with the idea of backpacking around Europe, Carissa remained ambivalent. Every night I’d read excerpts from people’s blogs and testimonies about their experiences backpacking. One night Carissa interjected, “Let me get this right. You take all your belongings, shove them in a backpack, carry that pack over cobblestone streets in the middle of the summer while sharing bedrooms and showers with complete strangers. AND, this is supposed to be a vacation?”
“It’s more of a travel experience. Carissa, imagine all of the exotic places and people you will meet. The freedom you will have to explore. Things will just unfold around us. No plans. No obligations. Just one grand adventure!”
These conversations continued for weeks until she finally caved in. Our plan was to do one week in London and one week in Spain. After four days in London our budgets required us to flee to Barcelona. After a couple days there, I suggested we go to Stiges, a beach recommended by Lonely Planet. We traveled with our 45 lb backpacks on our backs and regular-sized backpacks strapped to our front. At the train I asked the guard for directions to the hostel but he only spoke Spanish. “No worries, we’ll figure this out.” I assured Carissa. Forty minutes later we arrived at the hostel address. A 60 year old woman wearing an apron opened the door. She took one look at our backpacks and started flailing her hands in the air, shooing us away.
“Eh, Lonely Planet got something wrong.” I said sitting on the curb. “Here let’s go to this camp ground.”
We wandered up and down quaint cobblestone streets until we got on a bus. I asked the pot belly driver for help. He shrugged and shook his head. We sat down next to an elderly couple who collectively had five teeth. “Hola! We are trying to go here.” I said pointing to my book. Empathetically, they shook their heads. We spent the next three hours getting on and off the bus, asking every person we saw, “Donde esta Camping?” The question accompanied by charades trying to mime camping.
The next time on the bus I saw a middle aged Japanese man in the back seat. From other travel experiences I learned the Japanese were often well versed in languages. I approached with my book. The man listened, nodded his head and said, “Ah yes camping.” The whole bus erupted; he pronounced the word with a tweak of an accent that everyone could now understand. “Camping! Camping!” they yelled. Carissa and I jumped up and down yelling it back, exuberant to be understood.
Lost and Found,
A Warrior Princess