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MORAN: The downside of a long journey in a foreign land

February 23, 2017 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Somebody recently asked me what I miss the most after traveling for three months. A few answers tumbled around my mind and lips, but after serious thought, my definite answer would be long-term relationships. Whether I am spending two weeks in a village with a cozy farm family, or one night in a big city at a party hostel, I am constantly encountering wonderful people of all nationalities and saying goodbye is always bittersweet. It is something you have to get used to when making a big tour in a foreign land. I have met travelers of all kinds; some have been globetrotting for twenty years.

It takes a certain type of person to live this rambling lifestyle, and that is definitely not me. Another downside to long-term budget traveling is it becomes stressful to eat out and soak up the local food culture. This goes against my main goal of experiencing the people and history through my taste buds.

There is no doubt I am having the time of my life right now. December and January were spent in rural Spain working, reading and exploring the countryside. After two months of this 'tranquilo' lifestyle I was ready to be thrust in to the hyper-social experience of backpacker hostels in Southern Spain. My recent city experiences have taken place during the arrival of a wave of international students beginning a semester in various cities of Andulusia (Spain's southern province). The new arrivals paired with Spain's legendary nightlife, where many events begin at 3 a.m., and you have a recipe for an amazing time. If you don't like dancing to the same five Spanish pop songs all night, it may not suit you.

I have a feeling of 100 per cent satisfaction with the 13 weeks I have spent on the Iberian Peninsula. There are a few more stops I must make before my final jaunt to the airport, but they are far from being an obligatory nuisance.

Today brings a reunion of a small group of solo travelers to buy costumes and tickets for Carnival in Cadiz. The city of Cadiz is a medium sized city on the narrow stretch of Spain's south Atlantic coast. Cadiz has a reputation for being the best Carnival celebration in Europe. I know very little about this festive time of year. What I do know is it occurs on the last weekend of February and the first weekend of March, and it is celebrated not only in Europe but also in Central and South America. Colourful costumes recommended. After, I will travel up the interior of Spain, making my first trip away from the coast and in to the Interior. I will be flying from Barcelona, which is where I landed on Nov. 17, 2016. On the map this will finish a loop covering one half of the peninsula.

In a few years, perhaps, I would like to cover the remainder of Spain and also Portugal. Many people don't know that Spain has four official languages. The three that don't speak Spanish are in three regions spanning the top of the country. In the east is Catalonia, in the center is the Basque, and on the west is Galicia. The Basque is a breeding ground for the careers of a good portion of the world's top-rated chefs and restaurants. For a professional forager, supplying B.C.'S best chefs with rare local edibles (which is what I do in B.C. nine months out of the year) this could be a career-defining experience. Galicia offers many of the natural wonders of Spain. These regions have few large cities and less English speakers. While in the area, Portugal can't be missed. This is the itinerary for my next dream European adventure. For now I will enjoy my final week of Spanish ham, tropical fruit and salsa dancing.

— Scott Moran is a local forager discovering his own path to food freedom


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