The joys of ‘getting lost’

Have you ever noticed that some of the best discoveries in life are done when one is lost – mentally, physically, geographically or metaphysically speaking?

I love to get lost in a foreign city, walking at random, choosing the most interesting-looking streets. When one gets sufficiently misplaced and has discovered many yet unknown to one treasures, one can just jump in a cab or pop onto a bus to ‘be found’ again. The only city where this does not seem to work is Amsterdam, where it is virtually impossible to get properly lost, as, at least in my experience, every street eventually take you back to the same place. (All roads do not lead to Rome, they lead to Leidseplein…)

Being lost in nature is of course a whole different matter and can be dangerous if one does not treat it with its due respect. In the loving embrace of mother nature one can get so lost that one may not find ones way out again. Natural forces can be unpredictable and weather can change from one minute to the next. Here in Andalucía we get stiff winds from Africa. A cool morning can quickly turn to a scalding 40-degrees-plus day, yet to transform back into near freezing temperatures in the evening. Ample water, sunscreen and layers to cover ones skin is a must all year around. No place to get lost, you’d think…

Though I am not suggesting that you should start aimless wanderings, even in nature there are times when getting just a bit lost will lead to wonderful new discoveries and amazing vistas. When we go hiking with our monthly group, the entire trail is pre-planned. It seems to easy when we chug along, but what we had not thought of was that our guides plan every step and often forge out in the wild several times beforehand to make our hike safe for all.

We had the pleasure of going on one of these exploratory hikes in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park when this Sunday’s tour was to be charted. Of course we knew we would never get properly lost, as our guides know ever last peak and valley and can name each mountaintop from here to Morocco. The Andalucian outback are crisscrossed by numerous paths, old farm roads, animal trails, division trails between properties, dried up creeks and waterways, goat paths and donkey trails where cork and other rural crops used to be transported, and our guides miraculously seem to now them all. Yet, nature being nature, there are times when one needs to cross unmarked territory. Trails change and rocks may fall. Places that are safe in dry weather might be hazardous after a period of rain. But that is the exciting thing about joining the pathfinders. Feeling that we are just a bit lost and ‘off piste’ as we forge through woodland areas and crawl over stony ridges to find our next path. We know that they always bring us safely to our destination (and to a bar with a cold Cruz Campo) at the end of the hike.

So, thank you for a wonderful day to Rafael and Rafael, our guardian angels, and our other co-explorers. We love ‘getting lost’ with you!


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