Let's get Ice Cream July 04 2017

author: Brandi Bartha

Follow her on IG: @billycatx



Church of Santo DomingoThe balcony of our apartment is too small to fully stretch out and enjoy the blaze from the Spanish sun in a conventional sense; however, I have discovered that threading my legs through the railing bars allows me to dangle them over the ledge, creating a surprisingly comfortable lounge. With how high up our apartment is, I can't help but sometimes feel as if I'm perched at the top of a roller coaster. In this spot I often find myself staring up at the Church of Santo Domingo towering nearby, thinking of almost everything that can run through one's mind. How is my family back home doing? What am I going to get up to today? What were the right decisions I've made to fortunately end up here? What are the wrong decisions I'll make that keep me day-dreaming? How am I going to fund my next adventure? When can I finally get a dog? Where do I feel like going for tinto de veranos and tapas tonight??

Today I'm thinking of what exactly brought me to Granada in Spain.  At the root of my desire to travel, I think back to the memories I have as a young kid, as my mother, sister, and I would dance around our dark house at night before getting ready for bed. Our mother would stop us and say, "let's go somewhere". That somewhere usually being anywhere we could still get ice cream.

As a kid, I would appreciate these moments for obvious reasons, but as I got older those reasons began to change (only slightly. I still get excessively excited for ice cream). I understand now why I grew up too wired to sleep at night, but mostly I have learned to appreciate the nostalgia behind my mother's spontaneity to just 'go'. So when I decided I wanted to learn spanish, and that there were mountains nearby, that was good enough for me.

After issues with obtaining a work visa, I had a later departure date than expected.  Hoping to take advantage of what might be left of the winter season, I was still apprehensive in my decision to pack up my board bag with all my gear, considering I would be arriving in March. I had no clue what to expect of the mountains and snow conditions in southern Spain, a region popular for its beaches and Mediterranean climate, but I decided to hope for the best and hauled my gear over the pond anyways.  I learned that this would be one of those times where I could rejoice in one of my better decisions.

The walk to the bus that would take us to the mountains for our first tour had me second guessing myself at first, considering I was in snowpants with a board strapped to my back while everyone around me was dressed for summer.  But once we were at the mountains - and had hiked for 3 hours - we found.... SNOW!  Not anything comparable to the conditions found back home in Canada, but it was still rideable snow. And not only was there snow, but the size of the mountains themselves were bigger than I had anticipated. Expecting to find what we would call 'hills' back home, I was decently pleased to find that our first tour would be up to the peak of Mulhacen, an elevation of almost 3500 m. The runs weren't top to bottom, but they were still worth the hike up.


 And so we managed to get in a few tours up until about mid-may.  Our skis and board now patiently sit in the living room as a reminder of the winter season coming up in about 5-ish months, so lately we find ourselves having to walk back down these mountains after hiking up.

With the time spent in these mountains, my love for them, and for all mountains in general, was never as blatantly apparent to me, until living in the city. A season spent in Revelstoke initially opened my eyes to a new lifestyle and world that I was curious about, but it's the contrast between concrete and soil that really made me feel.  Heading out to Sierra Nevada on my days off for ski touring or hiking, I immediately feel a sense of peace as I stand on the wild soil, and breathe in the chilled - chilled, being relative for an inferno like Spain - air. A feeling contrary to the emotions that I find city life provokes.

I feel that John Muir was pretty spot on when he wrote, " Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life".  Maybe it's that extra surge of oxygen, or the lack of noise pollution, or being able to walk for miles without running into someone who is walking too slow in front of you, that rejuvenates the mind. Or maybe it's the thought of how fragile the natural world is under human influence, yet how powerful the force of mother nature ultimately is.  It's where emotions are most raw, where nothing is impressed by your Ph.D, job, or money. Where you have to respect and cooperate with the environment to come out in the end.

This ever-growing love has really stoked the fire in my heart and given me a more direct purpose, to not only travel and see the world, but to really get in there and feel the roots. To find comfort in uncomfortable environments. To seek the adrenaline that bubbles the blood. To get in the dirt of these landscapes that watch the city from afar (or maybe it's the cities that watch them?) To leave that dark house that is getting ready for sleep and go.

Only these days, it's to go for more than just ice cream.