Getting Lost in Porto Petro

Trip Start May 31, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Monday, July 10, 2006

I walked around aimlessly yesterday through the lost narrow streets of Porto Petro, boarding the arid almond tree fields, and as the harsh sun beat down on my head and shoulders, I couldn't help thinking about the change of lifestyle I overwent in such a short period of time.

I was trying to find my way back into town after spending the day at a lonely beach I discovered. I must've taken a wrong turn because now instead of large summer houses I saw stone walls separating the road from the olive plantations. Thick bushes exploding with lush blackberries crowned the tops of the stone walls, and unable to contain myself, I picked a few juicy berries for a light snack on my long endless walk.

Fast cars with tourists on their way to the beaches sped past me, glancing at me curious as to why I was walking alone on this dry hot road. I was wondering myself the same thing, and while I cursed myself for trying to be adventurous in taking a different way back into town, I also rejoiced at the free time I spared to actually get lost and enjoy it.

The beach I had visited was small and was practically abandoned when I got there, if it hadn't been for and old man with crocodile skin lying asleep in the sand and for a good-looking middle aged woman in a white bikini trying to install her sun umbrella. I had positioned myself near the shore where the water lightly pushed itself unto the sand, virtually noiseless. The water was crystal clear, as I had yet not grown accustomed to, so I could see to the bottom where the rocky growths of the cove lay underwater.

It was a particularly hot day and after only a few minutes of sun tanning on my towel, I couldn't help the urge to cool myself off in the water. As I walked in, submerging myself slowly, I noticed tiny curious white fish surrounding me. They nipped at my legs probably thinking I could be eaten, and as I tried to move forward into the deep, I suddenly noticed more and more of these little fishies agglomerating around me, until I felt a hard bite on the side of my thigh. I no longer thought they were cute or curious, just plain hungry....or demonic. I let out a high yelp and ran out of the water as if a shark had attacked me. That had been my first and last attempt at cooling off.

As I continued to walk in the scorching 3pm sun, I laughed at how silly I must've looked running out of the water like a madwoman. But now, skin glistening in beads of sweat, I wished I was back in the water, piranhas and all. Up ahead I saw the glimpse of an indicator sign which looked familiar. As I approached it and read where I was, I laughed at myself even harder. I was walking in the completely opposite direction. I was now in the same road I took previously to go into Mandragó Cove, which was a nice 30-minute walk away from where I was supposed to be headed.

I decided to keep moving on that same road since I now knew where I was and didn't want to take any more random turns that would render me lost again. I had quite a bit of walking left and I was already dehydrating , plus my eyes were crying from the hard squinting I had to do, sunglasses and all.

As I walked I decided that I would walk this picturesque road with my sisters when they came to visit later this month. My Dad had announced their surprise visit to me only two days ago, and having been seven months since we were all last reunited, I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to show my parents and my sisters the little streets, corners, coves and beaches I had discovered on my short stay here. I would show my Dad a great spot to jump off from the rocks about 5 meters into the light blue water. I would urge my sisters to buy the cheap snorkeling gear sold in the local souvenir shop so we could all venture into the sea life these coves hold. And I would take my Mom to the nicest beach here, where she'll carelessly lay in the sand with a book as she loves to do.

At last the almond plantations disappeared from my scenery and in came the large summer houses for rent I had longed to see. This meant I was only 5 minutes away from my destination. But the best part was that now I entered a zone where the high trees created full shade over the road, giving me relief from my sunny punishment. I walked by a construction site where the workers yelled all sorts of things I decided to ignore and just wave my hand in an innocent but polite gesture.

The road finally opened up to the Porto Petro marina I had hoped to see. I was wishing to find Ed waiting for me at the staircase leading to our flat but when he wasn't there, I groaned at the prospect of having to walk 3 more blocks to the restaurant where he probably still was. Curious as to why he hadn't left the restaurant at 3 pm for his afternoon rest as he always does, I walked in the appropriate direction, waving and greeting the people that looked my way when I passed. Most of the people I hadn't talked to before, but since this was a small town and the faces you see here are the same ones everyday, everyone is just friendly to each other.

I waved at Antonia, the owner of the local supermarket, at her son Miguel who took us scuba diving the other day, I said hi to Manolo, the manager of the Martina Restaurant where I was already offered to work, and to Don Miguel and his wife Martina, previous owners of that same restaurant and neighbors to the Varadero Lounge where Ed still worked. I realized how new it was for me, an old city rat, to walk just 2 blocks and greet 10 different people, some whom I didn't know the names, and some whom I spoke to on a regular basis. 

It was a nice sensation to feel welcomed, and most of all, to feel accepted. After three weeks of having settled in Porto Petro, everyone already knew who we were, where we came from and what we were doing. And although I still got lost on its winding roads, although I still had more secret beaches and coves to discover, more fish to keep away from, more wild blackberries to pick, and an endless amount of people to meet here, I still couldn't believe how much my life had changed and would continue changing. And the change feels great.
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