There’s a first time for everything. A first time to walk and to talk, and inevitably a first time for adventure. Isaiah, a fellow backpacker, experienced this and more, for the first time in his life in the summer of 2015 right after High School graduation. The interesting thing about beginnings is the things you can’t account for and Isaiah’s trip was surely full of the unexpected. In the words of Woody Allen:
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” – Woody Allen
Running on Fumes
Interview Excerpt: Thomas: “So, how did you feel before the trip like what were you thinking? How it was going to go?”
Isaiah: “Well, in the beginning I thought, I was just… beyond excited. I couldn’t believe that I was actually doing this. That I was getting into this… this honestly, this adventure. That… you know… that I only dream about or see in movies.”
The first three days into the EU were hectic to say the least. Flying into Sweden and then on to France where we spent the night in the train station, things were a hazy dull. Our backpacks weighed heavy on our shoulders and thinking we’d have to carry them for another month was an agonizing thought. Isaiah, of course, never the complainer, just silently internalized all his frustrations. He was homesick already, and for good reason. He had just graduated high school to take on such a Herculean task as walking the entirety of a country was beginning to overwhelm him.
I, of course, kept beating the same old drum and told him to: “look around, we’re in Spain, isn’t this awesome?“. The breaks in the first light of the trail came far and in between and the first real day of hiking began on the 27th of August. Our schedule was ambitious, to walk the 25 kilometers over the Pyrenees into Spain, ending it with a nice hot meal in Roncevalles.
Did that happen? Well, my August 27th diary entry left things on a relatively positive note with the last sentence being “Views are spectacular” and they were, indeed:
However, the August 28th journal entry read:
Journal Excerpt: August 28th, 2015
“Yesterday was a disaster.”
Our efforts were met with near dehydration, a broken set of tibias (shin bones), and overall depleted morale. Eventually, we pushed through and Isaiah is the better man today for it.
The First but Not Last
Around two weeks later Isaiah was met with another challenge, splitting up with me and hiking the rest of the way alone. After we had been hiking for just one day after leaving my step-father in Puente La Reina, we decided it was best to go our separate ways for a while. Our paces were different and the mutual decision was that we both might gain a little more by being by ourselves. At first I think we both had some trouble adapting without having the crutch of familiarity but eventually that melted away as well.
Isaiah had begun the journey as a fresh adult with all the anxieties and doubts as anyone else. In Santiago, perhaps his cocoon had been sheared away and someone new emerged. I’ll just leave you with a quote at the end of the interview that I think sums it all up.
So all in all you would consider this a worthwhile experience?
“Absolutely, one of the best experiences of my life.” – Isaiah
Thomas Foreman is an aspiring writer, photojournalist, and cheap beer taster. After school, he set off on an excursion through Peru, and then later throughout Europe. The travel bug having been securely attached, he now teaches English in the land of the Maya.