Getting Lost in Spain

Beach scene in Spain

Getting Lost in Spain
| Published May 21, 2014 |

By Krista Tani
Thursday Review contributor

I jolted awake and looked around, startled. Buses never fail to lull me to sleep and this short ride between cities in southern Spain was no different. I took in my surroundings and admired the rolling hills covered in neat rows of olive trees. I was heading to a small, seaside town called Almunñécar to visit a museum as part of my thesis research.

The town came into view and we pulled into the bus station a few minutes later. I gathered my belongings and disembarked, looking around for a map of the city. Usually a meticulous planner, I had gotten into the habit of intentionally not bringing a map with me on these thesis trips. This is not a good idea under most circumstances, but I found that it worked well in these small towns of Andalusia because of their size and well-established tourism infrastructure. I could always count on finding maps posted around the city and clear signs directing travelers to my target museums. I found that I paid more attention to my surroundings using this technique and loved getting the chance to practice my Spanish if I did make a wrong turn.

I quickly found a map and noted the location of the archaeology museum before heading out of the bus station. The layout of the city originates from when the region was under Moorish rule, which means that the narrow, winding streets make it easy to get lost. I found myself doing just that, but it produced some unexpected results.

As I searched for the archaeology museum I stumbled across what ended up being my most memorable museum visit: an interpretation center called La Casa de Cultura (The Culture House). The center’s exhibits and content became an important part of my thesis and the docent was able to provide invaluable resources, which I made use of for the remainder of my research process.

Later, I got turned around again but ended up in front of an aquarium. I adore aquariums and treated myself to a visit. The aquarium staff was then able to point me to my original destination and I finally made it to the archaeology museum. In searching for another recommended city sight, I accidentally found myself on a beautiful beach and finished my day eating my sandwich under a palm tree, listening to the waves roll into shore.

By getting lost in Almuñécar, I ended up having an incredible day filled with unforgettable experiences. I have by no means forgone my affinity for planning ahead, but as someone who has always focused on the plan rather than the experience and the destination rather than the journey, learning to get lost was one of the best and most unexpected life-lessons I could have learned. It was with a contented smile that I boarded the bus and started going over my notes before falling asleep once again.

Related Thursday Review articles:

The Not-So-Lonely Travels; Krista Tani; Thursday Review; December 13, 2013.

Moroccan Hospitality; Krista Tani; Thursday Review; February 25, 2014.