If my life were a book, this would be the first chapter. The prologue is over now, those endless days that stretched out into tedious nights: Now I am arriving in my own part, in a time where my life is up to me. Everything I could wish for is set out in front of me like a blank page.
Up til now, I feel like I’ve spent my life looking over my shoulder for something to overtake me. Now, finally, I’m arriving at a point where I’m looking ahead, towards whomever I want to be, and the vast uncertainty excites me more than I can put into words.
So now it’s time to take off: three friends, six bags, countless memories between us and wide hopes for whatever will come next. We share all these similarities with ease, and I think that we’re sharing our excitement too. This is our way to say farewell to our high school experiences, but it’s also a way for us to greet whatever is coming next the way we work best: All of us together, united and free.
In a way, there’s no better place for me to take this step into a new chapter than in Almuñecar. This town combines past memories with new expectations perfectly; this is where I have spent days on the beach and in the water, but now, it is also a place I get to introduce my friends to, a place where I can discover new corners while still being excited by the prospect of revisiting favorite spots. Being here and being so very present in the moment feels right. Here and now and with these people is where I want to be, and letting myself feel so content is what I need more than anything else after months of hard work.
Almuñecar always feels like it is caught in golden honey. The days flow by lazily, stretching out in mosaics of light and laughter. Before we know it, we’ve fallen into a lazy pattern of our own: Exploring every morning, relaxing at the beach in the afternoon, and finally finishing off the day with freshly-cooked dinner and a few episodes of “friends”. The sitcom is ridiculous and almost ironically on-the-nose: each of us looks at each other, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who can imagine us in that exact iconic café, laughing the days away. After all, it really isn’t that far from the truth.
The town - caught in golden light
The town winds its way up a hill with narrow streets. Tourists and stores mingle at its base, strange little cafés and shops without names. Our most common destination is the market, where we buy bags full of fresh fruits and vegetables for ridiculously low prices. Held in a market hall with stands open around the week, the piles of produce, cheeses and meats are like paradise. I try out my Spanish - it’s somewhat rusty, and was never much better than school Spanish to begin with - but am rewarded with grateful smiles from the vendors nonetheless, and am proud that everything I order is actually what lands in the bag. On our way back, we have fun looking in the tourist stores, considering what to buy for friends and family. However, we almost never buy anything at all, with the exception of postcards that mysteriously disappear after being thrown in the mailbox. It’s the possibility of the colorful paraphernalia, sold from every little, shady square, that fascinates us more than the act of buying itself.
Some days, we take a turn up the hill, and the world changes. Gone are the bustling crowds (which, as I know, will only grow until August), and a peaceful silence overtakes the streets. Most are too small for cars, so Vespas and motorbikes line the whitewashed walls. We snatch up bits and pieces of Spanish conversations through open windows and doors as we walk up, up, up, following signposts in the only direction there really is. We see dozens of stray cats, thin, hungry animals with scraggly fur, and pause for photos in front of colorful walls. In this manner, it takes us much longer than it should to reach the top, but we’re never in a hurry. We’re living in the moment, after all, and if the moment involves self-timed photographs, then I guess we’re doing something right.
A medieval castle awaits us at the top, and we’re happy to see that Friday mornings are free of charge. So of course we set off up the hill again that day, and walk through the old walls. It’s no wonder those medieval kings wanted to build here — the view of the coast is clear to both sides, and the Mediterranean spreads out for miles to the south. Tactical genius for them, and now, for us, the best spot in town to enjoy both some history and a brilliant view.
Every Shade of Blue
On Friday, I convince my friends to take a longer hike along the coast and up an undeveloped hill. The beaches on the Costa Tropical, the coast which Almuñecar is located on, are on different bays, and each bay has an atmosphere of its own. From the city beach where we spend our days surrounded by hustle and bustle, we come to coves where the waves beat hard against the rocks, and others where little fishing boats are pulled up during the day. Despite the unrelenting heat and intense sun, we make it all the way to the top, from where we enjoy the view of the pure-white houses in the next town, La Herradura. Once we’ve made it back down successfully (with which I mean that we neither fell down the rocks, nor did any of us come back with a sunstroke), we don’t wait long before jumping into the waves, letting the water cool us down. Since we didn’t pack towels, we let the salt water dry on our skin as we sit on the piping hot stones, simply relaxing between the elements.
Other days, we wade out near the rocks and snorkel through the bluest, clearest water one can imagine. We see fish in all sizes, and every now and then I take a deep breath and dive down, down, all the way to the sandy ocean floor. When I am forced to come back for air, I twist so that I can look towards the sky. The sun breaks through the waves, turning the world into an iridescent, shining place. From down here, where all sounds are muted, everything is simple and calm. I am floating, I am at peace.
So This is it
This is it, then, the beginning of something new. It’s exciting and happy and bubbly and light, but at the same time, it’s melancholy and bittersweet.
These are the days in which we fall in love with the world. We are young, we are free, and we are getting ready to take on the world.
But for these days, for this week, we are light, floating, together. This week is our week of independence and freedom, and we breathe it in with every golden breath and in every sunlit hour.