I’m writing this post from my parent’s garden in Spain. It’s way too sunny and hot even though there was a big storm just five minutes ago, but that’s Spain in September. I grew up on a small Mediterranean island, where summers are too long, and winters are just mildly cold. I usually come back once a year to show my family I’m still alive.
My life here couldn’t be more different from my life in England. In Spain, I’m the type of person that wears shorts, wears her hair wavy and messy and reads romance novels. In England, I can’t go out without my favourite cardigan, my hair is lifeless and straight, and my books are intense thrillers and murder mysteries. I prefer who I am in England.
I didn’t like growing up here. I always felt out of place, surrounded by people that love the summer, small island life and swimming in the ocean. Every time I come back, I hide in my teenage bedroom, trying to stay away from the mosquitoes and counting the days I can go back to my flat. But this time, I decided to explore the island where I grew up, trying to experience it as someone visiting for the first time. So I went outside and did touristy things.
Did you know this island has the largest natural harbour in the Mediterranean? I didn’t know either, but it turns out it’s almost six kilometres long, and most of it is covered with restaurants and expensive houses.
I walked around with my partner, taking him to the places I used to go to when I was a teen, all strategically located in the shade.
I’d forgotten how hard it is for me to find a restaurant I like on this island, most of the dishes have fish or meat, and vegetarian options are just an afterthought. Early this year, they opened the first vegan restaurant in town!
There’s nothing more touristy than taking one of those boat tours that sail around the harbour with a prerecorded guide narrating the island’s history, so I had to go on that. My parents paid for the overpriced tickets, and we spent an hour in the sun sailing around the port.
Overall, the harbour is a nice place to visit when you’re trying to escape the heat and are looking for a bit of shade. It’s usually not as crowded as the centre, and in the winter it’s deserted.
Another typical activity is kayaking around the coast. This was my first time on a kayak, and I was trying to impress my partner by being “adventurous”. I wanted to be the type of girl that kayaks in the ocean and looks cool while doing it. Well, it turns out the water was very wavy and scary, and I spent most of the time terrified we would fall in. The farther we got from the coast, the more seasick we got, and the more jellyfish started surrounding us. We returned the kayak early, choosing to spend the rest of our day at the beach and walking around the coast instead. I’m clearly not the adventurous type.
I’m not a beach person either, I think you can start to understand why I left Spain. Still, I wanted to experience a full day of summer: swimming in the ocean, trying to get a tan, walking around with salty messy hair and eating overpriced tapas at a beach bar. So we did all that, and after a few hours, I was ready to go home, make some tea and watch a movie with my cats.
My childhood home is in the middle of nowhere. The noise that wakes me up in the morning is a rooster crowing from one of the farms near us. I hear owls, birds, cats running around and sometimes annoying screaming children jumping into the pool next door. But the days are mostly peaceful and quiet. Every first night when I go back to England, everything feels louder.
My parents live in a rural area next to a few farms and chalets. I like walking around the neighbourhood, watching horses, cows, sheep, chickens and cats. You can walk for hours without running into people, and the roads are usually free of cars.
My time in Spain is mostly over, and I can’t wait to go back to England. I desperately need to be in my flat with zero mosquitoes and with a temperature below 20°C. I liked my time here, I had fun pretending to be a tourist and visiting places I’d never been before, but the heat and humidity made it hard to enjoy the stay.
I look forward to changing my shorts and summer dresses for tights and chunky sweaters. I need autumn, summer has felt too long this year.