This post is in response to the Daily Prompt : Fight or Flight (it’s a couple days late, but I really liked this prompt and it took me a bit to finish) Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?
I was in Spain at age 19, during my very first trip “alone” if you will. I had a travel partner, but he was hopeless at planning or making decisions about anything. (Read more about how not to choose a travel partner here). We had taken a lovely trip to Valencia, Figueres and Cadaqués, where we toured Salvador Dali’s home and museum which were amazing! We took a late afternoon train back from the North after spending a few days away from Barcelona. The hostel I booked gave directions to take a “Renfe” train (which I thought was a subway line when I read it) and that it was “right in the heart of Barcelona!” We rode to the end of the Metro line and got off. After asking where the Renfe line was, I found out it was outside the metro line! It was after dark and the train was slowly chugging along (it was a lot slower than the Barcelona metro).
The farther we went, the more I wanted to turn around and find another place to stay, but it was getting late, I was exhausted from traveling all day and just wanted to go to bed. We got off at the stop and there was nobody around! I mean a deserted train station with nothing around it! I spotted a sign with the name of the hostel and an arrow pointing. I apprehensively looked at my travel partner and stepped forward with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. We saw another sign pointing us up a large hill which ended up taking about 15 minutes to climb up, my anxious feeling growing with each step. We walk into the lobby area and it has a summer camp type feel which for some reason creeped me out even more! (think of all the horror films which occur at summer camps!) What creeped me out even more was that the other people who were there seemed totally at ease, almost too pleasant though.
I should say that I watched horror films as a kid and didn’t have nightmares and generally do not scare easily, so when I get strong feelings like what I was feeling, I trust them! I had already decided that we were not going to stay there for the 3 days we reserved. I wanted to get out of there right away, but it was already pretty late and the receptionist kept saying “It’s not my responsibility” when I asked about a refund because the boss wasn’t there, but also couldn’t tell me when the “boss” was going to be there. I felt trapped, but I knew I wanted to get out of there, even if I didn’t get a refund. I wanted to look for another hostel to stay at, but there was a line to use the computer. While I was waiting, a woman gets out of a taxi and the first thing she says is “What the hell is going on?!” Turns out, she was as creeped out at first impression as I was! And she was a New Yorker, so she had no problem voicing her opinion! It was comforting to have someone else who felt the same feeling as I did. I was finally able to get on the computer and booked 3 beds for me, my travel partner and the New Yorker, so we could all get out together.
I was still uncomfortable being in this place, but at least we had another companion. We were able to get a room together too so we shut and locked the door and tried to get some shut eye. We woke up early the next morning and I went straight to the receptionist who STILL couldn’t tell me when the boss would be in. The place didn’t feel any less creepy during the day. I decided to cut our (my) losses, got a receipt for leaving early and finally, we were on our way out of that creepy place. We were walking down the hill and I felt like we were the remaining survivors of a horror film. It was amazing to literally feel stress lift off my shoulders and the sinking feeling was gone from my stomach. Our moods also instantly lifted knowing that we were out of that situation. I don’t often have feelings like that, but when I have, I have learned to trust them for they’ve often turned out to be legitimate.