I woke up lost within myself one day in Portugal. I knew a shift had put me off balance. Maybe this is part of solo travel. I figured I could walk it off, think it off. I’d already been in Lagos for a few days, and was familiar with the beach town’s layout. I might have still had the map tucked into my bag next to my filled water bottle and unused sun block, but I know I didn’t use it. I wandered the coastline, I think I set out to find the lighthouse, but either way I didn’t.
I’d been fighting to get the alignment back within myself for a few hours, but align it would not. So, I wandered more, thought more until I realized for first time in my solo travel, I was physically lost. I wanted to laugh at my frustration that of course I couldn’t navigate the city when my mind was so off-kilter. But my thirst after finishing my first water bottle and still being pounded by 85 degree September sun was a distraction and the laughter didn’t come.
I knew that using my simplified English and pointing with a local would probably get me back to the city center, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask for help. Maybe I had more testosterone flowing that day, but I was determined to fix this myself – alone. Part of me thought my head would no longer be lost if I could walk myself out of this foreign predicament.
Eventually, after hiking in a few circles, I did find temporary home, or at least the blocks that led up to it where all the restaurants parked. Finally, there, I wanted nothing more than a fish taco. Simple, right, I’m on the coast for God’s sake. But the Universe or Fool’s Gold or whatever you believe would not let anything happen simply that day. I was turned away from two restaurants because it was that magical time between lunch and dinner service and the customers still gathered were all they would hold. I know from previous life experience that I suffer from Hangry, so I stumbled to the same restaurant I had lunched at the day before and ordered a tall Port.
Having been granted food and wine, I thought maybe now my day could have this restart I so desperately needed. Soon the sun would set and I knew watching the day end over the ocean was EXACTLY what I needed. I ran back to my AirBnb to switch clothes and unload before returning to the coastline that had been memorizing me since I arrived.
I made it just in time to see the sun falling from the Portuguese sky – directly opposite the ocean. It was the perfect capstone to my day; I couldn’t do anything right, not even eat a fucking delicious fish taco or find the right direction of west.
So, I did what I could, I wrote. I stared at the ocean in sentence pauses. I wrote about my awful day. I penned how my head couldn’t align. I hated everything I wrote. Until the last line. Right at the point I thought I was finished, with writing, this day, with this moment, that’s when it turned. I realized, only in that space, that sometimes we need to start right where we marked the finish line. Real living starts when we feel empty—in the push past the limit.
To officially end the day with my newly found peace, I went to an Indian restaurant. I asked for the best seafood curry they had. They gave me lamb. It was delicious.