After lunch, a few of us went back to the car and then Kaitlin and I got ready for our hike.
Kaitlin told me that according to her hike research the path was completely flat. Based on this information, I didn’t think it was going to be a difficult trip so I threw on a sundress over my bikini and grabbed some comfy flip-flops.
“That’s what you’re wearing?”
Kaitlin asked me, with a slightly perplexed tone that was devoid of judgement.
“Well you said that path was flat right?”
“Right,” she responded.
“Okay, let’s go!”
I drove us to the start location which involved turning off the road, down a long dirt path and then leaving the car in the middle of the field.
Kaitlin and I had that typical America conversation that involved volleying back and forth between whether it was okay to leave a rental car, in the middle of a field, in a country province in Portugal. We ultimately decided that the car would be fine and that other people had done this based on previous car tracks.
Kaitlin was our navigator so we took the right track of the wide fork in the road. Fifteen minutes in, we had to turn around but it was worth it so see where the other trail was leading. We talked about Seattle and professors we both shared even though we were four years apart at UW.
As we started to climb a steep hill, I realized something.
Kaitlin had lied to me.
“You said it was flat!”
I bellowed at her.
“That’s what the app said!”
“Well obviously, the app is crap!”
We were laughing and walking up these completely dry hills with dead grass and few flowers, searching for the sea, as this was also promised by the app. We had also promised each other that if we finished the hike and didn’t quit that we could have cake. In between our hiking struggles when we came across another hill or it was getting too hot one of us would yell to the other one…
Soon we started to be able to hear the ocean. It only made us work harder. We couldn’t see it but we knew it was there.
Our eyes were no longer hit with the hue of the dry, brown dirt but of the blue, deep ocean blue.
“Hey Big Blue,” I thought as we peered over the cliffs together.
Our conversation had moved from Seattle to our friends and families. Kaitlin’s Grandmother was Japanese and was a survivor of the internment camps that the U.S. implemented during World War II. We forget (since it may or may not be taught in our high school curriculum) that the American government did horrible things to Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants. Kaitlin and I shared more stories about this and I told her about my friend Shiggy who wrote this beautiful piece about his Grandmother’s experiences in the internment camps. (You can read it here & more on Shiggy's Grandmother, Sarah, Here)
It just proves to me that our histories are often contradictory. America was supposedly fighting for the freedom of Jews, Romani, and many others in Europe while we were interning Japanese Americans and immigrants at home. We often hide this history and spin stories of America being the greatest country. When the truth is, like every country and nation, we have done some wonderful and awful things. But we need to face those atrocities so we may acknowledge, heal, make reparations, and move forward. We need to stand up for the freedom of those who are discriminated against today as we witness these cycles of our world.
As Kaitlin and I walked the hiking path along the cliffs we realized that was probably some way to get down to the beach. Eventually, we found another dirt path with a little rope where we could climb down and vio-la!
We discovered these black slate rock formations along the coast and then stumbled into red rock caves. We did some basic bouldering, Kaitlin rock climbs often. I was running in and out of the ocean and everything was just so incredibly beautiful.
I could feel all that natural energy lighting up my soul.
Then it hit me, why are we so mean to our bodies? Look at all the amazing things bodies can do. Look at all the amazing things nature can do.
It was dawning on me, in that moment, bouldering on the beach in my bikini, running in the ocean, exploring with a new friend, that my entire self-worth did not depend upon how flat my belly was.
Of course, this is something we know intellectually but to actually feel it and believe it is quite another issue.
When we finished walking along the beach we realized we were definitely, off the beaten track of the app but I noticed that we had stumbled onto Bordeira Beach. We just had to cross the sand dunes, walk through the wetland marsh, down the dirt path to the road, and then follow the street back to the car.
As we were walking through the sand dunes, I saw sand lilies, seashells and all kinds of nature that I had never seen. It felt like we were on another planet with all the different kinds of terrain that we’d experienced in the past couple of hours.
Traipsing through the dunes was giving us a work out and we started to bellow again,
After we carefully waded through the marsh with tadpole babies and walked allllll the way down the straight street back to the main street, we just had to make it back to the car.
Soon, we heard this angelic sound. Multiple variations of light bells and then we saw, a shepherd with his flock of cows. The sound of the movement of the cow bells almost put me in a meditative trance.
We did reach the car, got back to our hostel, and ATE.
Considering we burned 2000 calories, pizza and cake were on the dinner menu.
But it was amazing how much energy I felt like I HAD. Surfing in the morning followed by an almost 3 hours hike made me feel awesome!
I wasn't exhausted or overwhelmed, I was...happy...and hardcore vibing on nature's energy.
I met Kaitlin’s friend, Justin, who she was traveling with and we all ate together. Justin was from Kentucky, also a teacher in Thailand, and sounded exactly like Matthew McConaughey
The three of us had dinner and then watched Little Miss Sunshine at the hostel.
As I fell asleep that night, I watched the moon rise from my bottom bunk and quietly thanked her, for everything.