“Not all those who wander are lost”*, but sometime they are.
Lost wandering is best done with a companion. Solo lost wandering quickly turns into just lost panic. But if you have a good partner, it becomes an adventure. Just a little more heightened excitement than you planned for. Each intersection becomes a joke, you know it’s probably straight but there’s a question, should we turn? Always turn. Treasures are tucked into turns.
My wandering companion was the nervous type. “Maybe we should just ask somebody”, “It looks like it’s going to rain.” A challenge. As people around me unravel I become increasingly calmer, I guess it’s a pretty good survival technique. The flip side of that is less of a strength – “Why is no one else panicking?! Do they not realize we’re LOST in a FOREIGN city?!” Balance is everything.
Lost wandering by definition takes you off the beaten path, into neighborhoods with gardens occupied by children, into grave yards with tombs stacked on top of each other, past yellow tape into a deep blue cove, and up to the top of towers. Being lost frees you from the rules of knowing. When you know how to get home nobody wants to give that privilege up by pushing too far past the comfort zone. But when you’re lost, well you’re already out there, so you might as well bring back some stories.
We got wander-lost in El Campeón, looking for the Roman ruins, which we did find, three minutes after they closed. El Campeón is a small city or a big town North of Alicante on the Mediterranean cost, it’s tourist population in the off season is almost zero, and by the look of the hotels and beach-front apartments it’s on season population is about the same.
Altea is a much more successful town, with historical buildings that have been meticulously maintained by residence, what it lacks in mystery it makes up for in beauty. The old city sits up on a hill, removed from the dangerous cost where pirates were prone to raid. We poked around the top of the hill, taking more photos than was probably healthy, but what else was there to do? We found an actual water fountain in the main plaza (the first in Spain), and chowed down on some delicious Gelato.
The most amazing thing about Altea is how much care the residence put into their city. The white buildings all look clean, and well cared for. I don’t think I even have a white shirt that’s as stain-free as the Altea streets. There is no dog business, no trash in the street. There’s an old woman sweeping the street around her front door, and then she continues up the street, whipping away the residue of tourist’s boots from her neighbors stoops. Walking up streets in old city I found myself forgetting that actual people live here. Spending there lives in pristine white apartments, raising babies behind those blue shutters, and growing up on such clean streets. What’s it like to grow up in a 100,000,000 tourists’ photographs?
* to quote one of the most over pined quotes on Pinterest