Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Fall Down a Mountain and Decide It's Time to Go Home

I think maybe the universe is trying to tell me that it's time to get out of Spain. A group of about ten of us went hiking in the Sierra Nevada this weekend, which was stunningly beautiful and should have been a pretty much perfect day--except that I took one of the more epic and embarrassing wipeouts of my life. I'll explain.

I was really excited to get out of the city for a little while. Although I think I could definitely be a "city person" someday, city life has been getting me down a little. They're building the new Metro system right near my house, so every weekday I wake up to power saws screaming as they cut through cement, which is fun; and I'm also really allergic to whatever probably toxic dust all that excavation is kicking up. Then on Thursday my roommate and I walked a corner right near our house to find a morbidly obese guy beating off in the alleyway. I needed some fresh air.

The Sierra Nevada is absolutely gorgeous, and so totally different from any other mountains I've ever seen. (It's been awhile since I was a six-year-old geologist toting a L.L. Bean backpack of rocks, but I still have an appreciation for a good glacial formation). It was a gorgeous day, and everyone was in a good mood because our finals are mostly done and we don't have much to do except enjoy our last few days in Spain.

So anyway. Our guide for the day was named Paco, and he was pretty much a typical Spanish man in that he chain smokes and doesn't understand boundaries when there are college girls around. We had a beautiful trek to the top of a fairly small mountain, where we stopped to take some pictures. Paco was taking a picture of the whole group, and was still holding my camera.
"Here," he said, to me, pointing to a stone marker--about three and half feet tall, to indicate the summit--"This is a funny picture. Get up on this." So I do it, thinking he wants to take a picture of me standing on this thing, surrounded by the mountains. "Okay," says Paco, "Now, when I say 'ya' you jump, ok?" ("Ya" means "already" but it's kind of an all purpose word that means "Go!" or "Done" or a number of other things). Now, this seems dumb to me--not even necessarily dangerous, just lame--but I think, whatever, isn't going to hurt anything.

Yeah, no.

I jump, and immediately slip on the loose gravel and rocks on the ground and fall forwards on my hands, which would have been fine except that we're on a mountain--so I roll at least another six feet. I scrape pretty much the whole right side of my body, throw out my shoulder and knock the side of my head on a rock. For 1/50th of a second I think about that horrible book about people dying on Mount Washington, but then I get it together enough to form the words "OW!" and "FUCK." My friends all run over to help me up and make sure I'm okay, but Paco kind of ambles over and hands me back my camera. "The picture didn't come out," he says, puffing on his sixth or seventh hand-rolled cigarette of the day. "You're supposed to jump slow."


I assess the damage, which truth be told isn't anything too terrible, although I'm a little nervous about the whole head trauma thing. There's some blood and I have a couple of unholy bruises, but nothing much worse than that. Thing is, I'm kind of a baby. I do not play contact sports. I have never broken a bone, or even needed a root canal. (I also occasionally fall down a WebMD wormhole late at night when I'm sick, so I have an active imagination for things like concussions. Although at least this time it's probably not throat cancer. With WebMd it's pretty much always throat cancer.) I'm also kind of pissed, because although I might be a baby about pain, I'm not a baby about hiking. I grew up in goddamn New Hampshire, and this asshole and his precious little hipster cigarettes just made me take a full-on Sandra Bullock wipeout. I look like freaking Legally Blonde-goes-hiking.

The rest of the hike was beautiful, and although I was waiting to faint or throw up or something I didn't. Like I said, low pain threshold/overactive imagination. In the end it was nothing that Advil couldn't handle. Anyway, point is, I feel like it's time to go home. This whole week it's felt like when Spain wasn't grinning at me and jacking off, it was hitting me over the head with rocks. And if that's not a sign I don't know what is.

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