España Part 2: Las Palmas
Around the World
01 August 2017
There usually comes a time within a long period of travel where I become unhappy. I’m not sure if this is a common occurrence with others, but I’ve traveled enough that I’ve come to expect it. The reasons vary for this mild despondency, but it often follows a sense of purposelessness.
What am I doing on this trip? Of course, there are a lot of places I’m seeing and people I’m meeting, but the purpose I’ve aligned with it has left me feeling wanting. Maybe it’s because it’s too far off in the distance to see. Even while on this trip I’m going through a type of preparation for when I return.
There’s an often quoted phrase that holds a lot of truth, so let me quote it as well:
If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.
View from the Ocean
Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
When I took those early tentative steps and left the United States for Europe, I think I was intimidated by the travel ahead of me with virtually none of it planned out. The plans were mostly placed in meeting and hanging out with the friends I had in Europe. Requesting to stay on the farm in France was the first big risk I felt I was taking with regard to last minute preparations (I gave Fabien a three days notice).
By the time I left France I had plans made up to Nepal, where I’m currently writing this from. However, I gave myself 11 days in the Canary Islands without any plans whatsoever. I thought I’d just figure it out upon my arrival. This was a bad idea.
For one, I got sick the first three days I was there. I’ll leave the description at bowel issues and an anti-diarrhetic. I did have a friend on the island, but she lived about an hour away. Again, poor planning. I choose to stay in Las Palmas on recommendations of friends and reviews I saw online, but when I got to my hostel I just wasn’t feeling it.
I looked up work exchanges and couch surfers just to get me out of the hostel I was in, which wasn’t bad, but I was looking forward to some privacy during my stay and hoping to get some work done. Since it’s an island there weren’t a lot of opportunities for either work exchange programs or couch surfers. The one couch surfer that replied actually lived in a hostel and paid the $11 per night for his “surfers”. Strange, I thought.
This is where I realized there was a problem. I put myself in a position where I was looking for a cheap or free place to stay just to run out my time on the island. The weather was always cloudy this time of year due to a seasonal rain shadow effect, so I didn’t have that going for me. The beaches were nice, but a cloudy beach is only so enjoyable.
If I had planned something out I probably would have enjoyed my stay, but my friend wasn’t able to get off work much and then she got sick toward the end of my stay, so we saw each other three times in 11 days. Not the best batting average.
An Airbnb came through for me at 21 USD per night for nine nights. Not a bad deal. It was a five-minute walk from the beach and a beautiful flat to boot. I had a private room and my hosts Coral and Niko were more than hospitable and easy going with my hermitaño behavior.
Mi amiga, Maria!
Moya, Las Palmas
In the end, I think it worked out for the best. No friends and no sun meant I got to sit down and write and edit photos and do everything I had been putting off for weeks. I finally got caught up to the country I was in. Unfortunately, I took off for Italy before I could write this post.
And to get back to what I was saying about the unhappiness settling in, I felt a little lost. I would often go sit at this one cafe about a 15-minute walk from my Airbnb. Right off the main boardwalk, a beautiful view of the water. I’d do some journaling or writing; practice eavesdropping on Spanish conversations. But I began to question the months ahead.
What am I going to do in Nepal? What about Japan? Where am I even going to after Japan? Lost. Am I going to be spending my entire trip questioning the point of my trip until it’s over? Well, that sounds like a terrible way to travel the world.
Thankfully, a friend gave me a call from North Carolina. I met him two years ago while walking the Camino, after which he found himself in Nepal for four months. He just turned 18 at the time. He did an Everest Base Camp with a friend and his father. Once they left he decided to stay and do what he could to help volunteer in the area.
I actually wrote a whole post on everything he accomplished during his stay in the country. I’ve taken the older posts off the site for now, but you can read that article here: A Mountainous Effort.
During the phone call, he asked how I was feeling and how the trip had been going. To paraphrase his encouragement to me, “Don’t worry if you find yourself waiting for something to grab you. You don’t have time to do everything, so waiting for the right thing to come along isn’t a bad thing.”
An hour later, Kristian himself had waved the attention-grabbing opportunity in front of me.
The plan was always to go to Nepal. To do what? I wasn’t sure. Work on a farm? Do some hiking? Yeah, yeah. Hiking, Nepal.
He gave me the contacts of six different people in the country who I can go to for different needs: housing, food, transportation, trekking, etc… This guy will give you a discount on your hotel. This guy has the best damn restaurant in the city. What’s my budget, he asks. Can I afford to spend $300 on flights to Lukla Airport? Okay. Go there. It’s the world’s most dangerous airport. This guy will get you all the passes you need. You may want to hire a porter or you can leave your stuff with this guy. Eleven days. That’s all it will take for an Everest base camp hike through the Khumbu Glacier from Lukla.
I checked on that. Eleven days if I want to exhaust myself with altitude sickness. Let’s stretch it to fourteen. But, okay. I’m down.
So an opportunity came along. I booked a few more flights to Malaysia and Japan for the upcoming weeks and browsed some Work Away opportunities in Japan. Things are looking good.
To summarize my stay in Las Palmas, it was like a motionless boat in the doldrums. I enjoyed the few days I got to spend with my friend Maria. We made the most of my stay with some walks around the city and a trek through the mountains. I swam in the ocean for the first time since the Marshall Islands. I miss it. But again, those activities stretched to nine hours out of my 11-day stay.
It’s not the most beautiful city, but this could also be because I just left Toulouse and Barcelona, so it had some heavy competition with my perception of beautiful cities. Also note that I only posted photos from the rare moments of sunshine. And that sunset was something else. Had a good moment sitting out there on the rocks. It was all bad, in fact, everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves. But we all have our own ups and downs. Right now I’ve got a lot I’m looking up to.
Thankfully, I managed to catch a breeze and sail off to a familiar place, one of the few I call home on this earth. After a trying eleven-hour layover in Madrid, Impruneta, Italy was the next stop.
• • •
As I write this, I’m sitting in the Tibet Peace Inn in Kathmandu, Nepal. I’ve met almost half a dozen people who remembered Kristian from his stay two years ago. He left quite an impact on these guys. The owner of the hotel did give me a deal. The trek manager did get the passes I need. I have a guide, Nima Tenjing Sherpa. I made some changes though.
Due to the world’s most dangerous airport being much more dangerous during the rainy season, it isn’t likely that I’ll be flying in, so the plan is to take an eight-hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Shivalaya and begin a five-day trek up to Lukla. This will also help with getting acclimatized to the Nepali “lowlands”, you know, only 7000 feet.
Nima and I leave for the 18-day Everest Base Camp trek tomorrow morning at 7:00 am. We can change routes along the way, but we have a main trek planned out. I’ll be sure to do a proper post with all the details once I get back. Wish us luck!
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