I’ve noticed something about travel. Read the rest of this gem…
The most difficult thing I find about life —
I was going to have a bathroom update for you today, Read the rest of this gem…
I’m just going to be honest here, and you can judge me as you will.
And most likely, you will.
I’m at a point in my life where I pretty much consider myself too old for the club scene.
Well. Maybe not too old, but too crotchety.
Maybe that’s it. Whether I’m headed out with Justin or with a few good friends, I’d much prefer the mellow sanctity of a martini at a jazzy bar, a spicy margarita and faux mariachi at my favorite Tex Mex hole, sipping a SoCo and coke with a splash of lime and dash of salt at a local dive while listening to a solo guitarist as he stands, essentially naked on the stage, because — as far as he’s concerned — he’s showing us a piece of his soul.
Yes, I’d much prefer that to finding myself surrounded by a mass of wobbly-drunk, sweaty, crop-dusting strangers. (I’m not exaggerating about the crop dusting — I actually saw a guy lift his leg when he did it.)
And I don’t think it’s a married thing. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t my scene when I was single, either.
Lucky for me, aside from the wild, expensive dance clubs for which it is famous, the island of Ibiza is packed full of stunning natural landscapes, interesting architecture, and a slew of culturally diverse inhabitants. Our server from Bratislava, who was fluent in 3 languages and working on a 4th, couldn’t hide his elation that he’d finally saved the money he needed to move to his favorite vacation spot and was now living the dream.
He served us this sangria.
And I’ll never forget our quirky, art-loving hostel director who, upon figuring out how she wanted to spend her recent and substantial inheritance, arrived in Ibiza for a week-long vacation and simply never left.
Even the Spaniards don’t want you to fill out the paperwork, she reasoned, while explaining how she’d managed to remain an illegal, business-owning resident for the past 16 years. It’s nothing but headaches for everyone involved.
And based on my very limited experience in the country and stories offered up by my sister-in-law who was there on a work visa, I’m thinking she was probably right.
Ibiza at dusk.
So I was more than satisfied on Ibiza, using a rental car to explore our small corner of the island, searching for its signature smooth shells on the beach with Becca, playing paddle ball with Brad in the surf, laying in bed with Justin while listening to inebriated teenagers try to find their way back to their hostels by bouncing shouts off the city walls and timing how long it took for their echos to return. Apparently.
Playing paddle ball. Yes, my exposure sucks.
But Brad. Young, unmarried, still-able-to-consume-copious-amounts-of-liquor-wine-and-beer-in-a-single-night-without-sporting-a-massive-next-day-hangover, Brad. Brad had a rather fuzzy-yet-exciting memory leftover from the last time he’d visited Ibiza, and he was determined to recreate the experience with our group while we were there. It was his birthday, so we couldn’t argue, and I’ll admit — his proposal did sound intriguing.
The plan was to buy ample supplies at the grocery store and then stay up eating and playing drinking games in our room until 1 a.m.
Photo by Brad Thayer. Since Justin’s and my room had 3 beds for some inexplicable reason, ours was the designated party room.
Crackers, white cheese, Spanish ham, chorizo, olives, chocolate cookies, crackers with chocolate, chips, orange juice, rum, our cheap-ass 40s, and soda.
Then, Becca and I were told to get “club-ready,” which — thankfully in Ibiza — simply means putting on a swimsuit underneath a strapless beach dress and trying not to poke our eyes out while drunkenly applying a fresh coat of mascara. The boys threw on swim trunks and t-shirts, we wrapped our 40s in plastic bags (yes, we were classy — and they were only like €1 each, which is $1.50), and headed out into the chilly night air to walk about a mile to Club Paradis, for which we’d earlier bought pre-paid entrance tickets for €15 each (that was half the price!).
The “house music” (aka. techno) assaulted us immediately upon entering, but I will say this: the enormity of the room, the sunken dance floor, the crisscrossing catwalks with scantily clad dancers, the pure energy of the place was exciting as hell and made me feel like I’d suddenly been transported to Vegas. We pushed our way down into the dance pit, which managed to resemble a giant hot tub under some Greek columns with a bunch of fluffy pillows covering the steps. Beautiful — and I mean imported-from-Eastern-Europe beautiful — costumed dancers did their thing on the catwalks overhead, while some creepy metro guy with spiked hair and high tops walked around playing amplified bongos, and I couldn’t help but think, as a random stranger with only 1 lens in his sunglasses walked up and pet my face, that this whole scene would be best experienced with a hit of ecstasy.
But it was too late for that.
Image from Ibizavote.com.
So we danced. Or at least, Brad, Becca and Justin danced while I attempted to dance. But my buzz quickly wore off from all the stimulation, and after 2 1/2 hours of back-and-forth between the crammed dance floor and the blissfully air-conditioned ladies’ room, I was ready to leave before the main event.
But I didn’t.
I stuck it out.
Because the thing we were waiting for was something I’ll undoubtedly never see again in my lifetime. Most likely because I’ll never stay at a club until 4:30 in the morning again in my lifetime. With each dramatic climb of the techno, we thought the moment had finally arrived. But it hadn’t.
Until, finally, it had.
In a surprisingly anticlimactic change of music from heady techno beats to a cutsie rendition of “Singing in the Rain,” fountains burst forth from the top steps of the dance pit and began filling it with water.
A fact that no one seemed to notice, because we were inside, dancing, and it was raining, people! We’re about to be in a pool! In a club! With our clothes on! Except apparently those are optional because some definitely came off.
Now. If you’re one of those people who gets nervous about swimming in a public pool because some kid might have peed in it, imagine standing in a pool at a club where everyone is wasted. Aside from the flip-flops, plastic cups, and random pieces of clothing I saw floating around on the surface, I can’t imagine what might have been in that water. And after almost getting squashed by a 180-lb. guy who never learned that pools aren’t for rough-housing, I decided it was time to get out. I didn’t want to be a pooper, but I’m sorry — I refuse to be that girl who ends up in the morning headlines because I had my front teeth knocked out on the dance floor steps while partying a little too hard at El Paradis. Stone sober. No way.
Image from spotlight-forums.com.
However, once I was free from the sloppy stew that had once been a dance floor and shivering uncontrollably on the sidelines, I was able to appreciate this as one of those moments I’d likely never come close to experiencing again.
And while I can’t say that’s a bad thing, I also can’t say that I’m not happy we went. If I had it to do over again, I’d definitely bring money for more drinks at the bar. I’d hide a sweater somewhere in the club. I’d take lots and lots of vitamin C. And I’d put my game face on because if anyone’s losing a tooth, it’s the 180-lb. guy who thought he could push me around.
The walk back to our hostel was freezing. And we had to get up in 4 hours to check out and catch a ferry to Formentera. But I slept better than I had during any night on that island.
Maybe because I’d finally moved past the pretty beaches, the sunsets, the shells, and the water, and embraced the true nature of the beast — the thumping, gyrating, strobe-light phenomenon that is, for better or for worse, Ibiza.
So how about you? Do you love going to clubs, or would you rather stay in your jammies eating ice cream and watching reruns of Seinfeld?
***UPDATE*** It has been brought to my attention by my good friend Leslie (huge country buff and friend to country singers everywhere), that the person I should be slamming in the title of this post is Miley Cyrus and NOT Taylor Swift. Since it’s a pain in the ass to change post titles once published and they’re all the same to me, I’m not going to change it. But since I love Leslie and don’t want to blame Taylor for Miley’s missteps, I will, for the record, stand corrected.
(But Taylor probably doesn’t know what she’s talking about either.)
I’ve been to a few beaches in my time.
It’s odd because as a teenager, I always thought I was more of a mountain girl. That might have something to do with the fact that I primarily grew up in Nebraska, and it wasn’t unusual to take family trips to the magnificent Rockies where my sister and I would don knee-length shorts and flannel shirts tied around our waists (hey, it was the 90’s grunge era, and if I’m not mistaken, the plaid shirt thing is currently making a comeback, suckas!), and we’d hike the scenic trails of Estes Park, marveling at pristine mountain lakes from pointy vistas, trying desperately to comprehend sheer size and distance based on the veritable layers of mountains that faded off into a purple haze on the horizon.
Fortunately, for the most part, the mountains still have that effect on me.
But nothing — and I mean nothing — has ever made me feel smaller than the ocean.
Except maybe that senior who called me ugly during my freshman year of high school.
But while oceans have swallowed ships the size of small cities and an entire mountain range that, if its base were above sea level, would boast peaks higher than the Himalayas, all that senior managed to swallow was a drop of my 15-year-old self-esteem, which, by comparison, was much smaller.
So, considering the fact that I haven’t yet been to outer space, the ocean reigns supreme on my list of awe-inspiring things in terms of sheer vastness.
In this life, I’ve been lucky enough to dig sand dollars from the warm gulf surf off the cost of Georgia; scuba dive the reefs near St. Lucia’s black sand beaches, feeling the stunning shock of sea gnats while gazing at the limitless colors of coral and fish; view the North Pacific, with its cliffs of rock rising out from its frigid depths, as it feasted on the remnants of hundreds of sand castles along its beaches; witness the power of waves that looked like building-tall scoops of ice cream sprinkled with runaway surfboards as they tested human courage on the beauty of Oahu’s North Shore; watch cruise ships dump inconceivable amounts of pollution into the shockingly blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico; buy trinkets sold by colorful hippies and artists while absorbing the vibrancy of the beach known as Venice; frantically flee strange, floating jellyfish in the bathtub-warm waters of the Caribbean while learning how to scream through a snorkel; accept a proposal for marriage on a beach composed entirely of shells on the east coast of Florida; and accidentally lose track of the top of my bathing suit in a wave working its way towards the famous shore of Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica.
Until I recently dipped my toes into the surprisingly June-cool waters of the Mediterranean, I was convinced I’d seen it all.
But that’s the beauty of the ocean.
No one has ever, ever seen it all.
You know that song that’s all, It’s not about what’s waiting on the other side… it’s the climb? I think it’s by Taylor Swift. Well. As you can see, she was dead wrong.
The climb, which we did on bicycles, sucked. But that thing that was waiting on the other side?
Pretty. Damn. Fantastic.
So. To answer the burning question I know everyone is wondering but is too afraid to ask:
Did I “lose” my top on the notorious nude beaches of Formentera?
Let’s just say that I never realized how utterly uncomfortable bikini tops are — until I experienced a world without one.
Photo by Becca Gard
WordPress, which is the platform I use to modify this blog and host my site, has this thing it calls “Freshly Pressed.” In case you’re unfamiliar, it’s basically a list of highlighted posts from WordPress blogs that, when chosen, get published on the Freshly Pressed page for a day or so.
The cool thing about getting Freshly Pressed is that it can bring thousands of new readers to your site — readers who, with literally millions of blogs to peruse throughout a particularly unproductive work day, often refer to the Freshly Pressed page for the lucky picks the WordPress editors choose to highlight.
Needless to say, ever since I became aware of the phenomenon, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the day when I, too, would get Freshly Pressed and my new wealth of fame and readership would finally — finally — justify why I ever started this thing in the first place. After all, I wanted to be a writer. A surefire sign that I was on the right aspiration path would be to get pressed. That’s what happened to Catherine. And Nate. It happened to Kat twice. So it was perfectly reasonable to think it would one day happen to me as well.
So I waited.
Maybe it would be one of my food posts.
Okay, so I’m not a cook per se and definitely didn’t create the recipes, but if I don’t share the joys of an orgasm panini with the world, who will?
Maybe it would be one of my DIY home improvement posts.
Okay, so I’m not the first person to tile a backsplash, but this might very well be the only place where, among the slew of detailed, step-by-step how-to photos, you can also see photos of my husband’s butt and learn why the word “caulk” is a homophone.
If it wasn’t going to be any of those things, then it would definitely be a post about one of my trips. Who doesn’t love reading about vacations to Hawaii or 2-month trips to Costa Rica?
Apparently the WordPress editors, that’s who.
Wait — that’s not right. I’ve seen Freshly Pressed blogs on each of those topics, including one almost exactly like my (and Erin’s) post about waterfall rapelling.
So apparently they just don’t like my posts about these topics.
I honestly thought for sure one of my posts about Spain might get pressed. I mean, I realize there wasn’t much writing involved, but I still have some highlights of the trip I’d like to share now that I’m home, and I somehow just knew the editors had my blog on a “watch” list, just waiting for the right post to press and finally give me some sense of validation.
Then, today happened.
I went to the Freshly Pressed home page and saw it — a post someone wrote about their recent trip to the South of Spain.
You have GOT to be kidding me.
It made me want to chuck my computer out the window.
It made me want to punch the wall.
It made me want to cry.
It made me want to quit the blog.
I realize this is a huge show of weakness on my part. I mean, I didn’t start the blog for anyone else, so why do I suddenly care if many people read it?
Then it hit me: I care because this is what I want to do. Write.
I decided while on the trip to Spain that I would attempt to get a “real” job upon our return. Not a “career” job, but something with a steady paycheck that I could manage while still trying to do the writing thing. But still, in the back of my mind, I had this dream that some sign would intervene — one of those epiphanies you read about where some lucky person is handed a clue that tells him — beyond all reasonable doubt — that he’s doing the right thing.
The problem is, I was so intent on looking for affirmation that I failed to accept the obvious signs that maybe I’m not doing the right thing.
Or, maybe I’m concentrating my efforts on the wrong thing.
Or, maybe signs are bullshit.
I don’t know.
But I do know that persistence and grit will only get you so far. After all, continuously spinning the tires will often dig a deeper rut.
So. I’m not quitting the blog. Not even close.
But this is my renewed commitment to myself to try some new venues on the path to becoming an actual writer. You know, like maybe sending some pitches in to various publications. Freelancing for other blogs/writing projects. Starting up a rejection pile. Things people who actually make a living in the industry actually do.
I know — there’s going to be work involved.
I can’t believe it either.
Here are some more Spain pictures if you’re one of those people (like me) who actually likes looking at other peoples’ vacation pictures:
Graffiti near Becca and Brad’s apartment.
Malaga from above.
Old juxtaposed with the new.
Malaga store window.
Ferry ride with our hosts, Brad and Becca.
How Spain said goodbye through an airport window.
On my Facebook status the other day, I described the Spanish wine we’ve been getting as “moi barato,” which is French for “me barato” and Spanish for “moi cheap.” I realize now, through the miracle of a little internet research, that what I meant to say was, “muy barato,” which is very inexpensive.
But it’s okay. I can’t be blamed for these things because I took German in college and no one corrected me.
My friends are too polite.
Here are some things I like about Europe (and I’ve been to this continent all of twice now, so I feel it’s fair to generalize):
1. Language. No matter the country, I’m always surrounded by foreign languages. Often several. And while this is frequently the cause for discomfort and/or mild irritation, I find that when I sit down with a glass of wine and bowl of olives at an outdoor cafe, hide behind my sunglasses on a plaza bench, or type here at my computer in my sister-in-law’s basement apartment and just listen as strangers converse while they pass by (and it’s not eavesdropping if you can’t understand a word they’re saying), it really is quite intoxicating.
Bar snacks in Malaga.
2. Food. What can I say? There’s nothing I don’t like about food. Even food I don’t like. Whether I’m sitting down in front of a tiny bowl of seasoned olives with wine at a swanky cafe, a steady stream of tapas and beer at a pub, an empanada or falafel procured from a street vendor, fried churros served at a tiny alleyway table with chocolate dipping sauce and a very strong café con leche (ie. couple shots of espresso with steamed milk), or a giant pan of paella cooked right out of the chef’s childhood home, I’m pretty sure I’m the happiest woman in the world.
Paella on Ibiza.
3. Exercise. When we want to go somewhere, we walk. When we want to go farther, we walk to the public transportation, take a train, then walk again. When we’re on the island of Formentera and have no car, we bike. When we’re on the island of Formentera and decide we want to see the one thing that requires getting to the top of a very large hill (*cough*mountain*cough*), we ride our bikes, walk our bikes, and ride our bikes again — over 13 km, both ways, up hill, in the snow just to get there.
(All of that’s true. Except for the snow.)
Southeastern lighthouse on Formentera.
Oh, and sometimes these old cities have stairs. Lots, and lots of stairs.
But whether you bike it or hike it, it’s always worth it when you get to the top.
4. There are like a billion ways to flush the toilets.
Need I say more?
I´m back on the island of Ibiza (in a different city, but the same island from where I last posted), and this computer also will not read my memory card.
Because I seriously have many, many photos I wish to share.
Hopefully I´ll have a chance when we get back to Malaga tomorrow night. If not, the day after for sure. Or definitely the day after that. Mañana, mañana, mañana.
I am in Spain, after all.
I´m doing my best to adopt to their culture.
Which, as far as I can tell so far, basically means working all morning, taking a 2-3 hour siesta involving lots of food and alcoholic beverages in the afternoon, working a bit more, and then eating and drinking again. And since I´m unemployed in this country, we´re basically cutting out the superfluous “working” part and pretty much sticking to the eating and drinking.
The only thing making me not feel like a complete blimp is the fact that we just returned from 3 days on the island of Formentera, around which our only (chosen) way of transport was bicycle. It was relatively flat, for the most part, except for that day we decided to ride up a frickin´mountain (at least by Formenteran — and Nebraskan — standards) to see a lighthouse.
I´d like to say it was worth it.
And I will tell you, it was.
So, so worth it.
The pictures will be forthcoming.
The only down-side is that my thighs seem to be en fuego.
That´s on fire.
Anyway, I´d love to catch you up more, but the lack of photo sharing ability is kind of getting on my nerves, and my last night on Ibiza is waiting outside this cafe, so I will have to say adios for now. It´s 9:30 p.m., which means it´s time for dinner.
My favorite part of the day.
Aside from… you know… breakfast, lunch, and siesta.
Life is rough, my friends.
Very, very rough.