Beach day and hiking at Cabo de Gata!

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Roma Sarathi
September 10, 2023
IES students walking down the volcanic rocks after their 3 mile hike to another beach in the Cabo de Gata National Park.

If you're familiar with the Andes plane crash of the 1970s, also known as Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 or La tragedia de los Andes, you'll know that after a plane crash stranded the boys of a rugby team and other passengers into the Andes mountains, two high school-age boys were sent to climb the mountains to search for help. They hiked for several days even while sustaining injuries from the plane crash, the high altitude, the freezing weather, and snow blindness from the mountains. Needless to say, their hike was far more treacherous and exhausting than ours was at Cabo de Gata this week, but I couldn't help but remind myself that humans can hike even the most dangerous of rocks in order to get to the other side of the mountain.

Our excursion began with an early start at 8am from the Neptuno bus station where all of us IES Abroad Granada students waited out the 2 hour and 30 minute bus ride to San José. The view outside of the window the whole way there was so mesmerizing. There were endless hills and mountains and sand that made me feel like I was in a Western movie (some of which were actually filmed around there!) Once we made it to San José, we stopped for a quick coffee and breakfast break in the beach town before heading out to the path that would lead us to our starting beach, Playa de Mónsul. After a 20 minute walk down to the beach, we found a spot for all of us to lay down our towels and rushed into the ocean. This was my first time seeing and swimming in Mediterranean waters and the combination of the water's clarity and bright blue color with the view of the mountains around us had me in awe for the 3 hours we were there. After our leisurely beach time filled with relaxation, soccer games, frisbee throwing, card games, snorkeling, and unfortunate jellyfish encounters, we gathered our belongings and headed up the path to the next beach.

I wasn't unprepared for this hike, but I definitely misjudged how careful and aware I would need to be while climbing. In a single file line, the group climbed up and down the steep volcanic rocks for about 3 miles and at some points, I grabbed onto some of the rocks for support and felt a little bit like I was rock climbing. There was nothing between me and the water below which made for some great pictures as well as some terrifying thoughts, and sometimes there wasn't even a real path to walk on. I was really grateful that I had gotten good outdoor shoes with supportive insoles because that was probably the only thing keeping my ankles from spraining. But as we got to the bottom of the rocks, we found a significantly smaller beach with some shade under some overhanging volcanic rock. Though I was a little bit scarred from the hike down, I felt ready to dive right back into the water again, not knowing that the waves here were a little larger and more violent than the ones at the previous beach. After some failed conversation attempts while in the big waves and a sight of some little fish swimming at the bottom of the shallow seafloor, we headed back up and down the rocks, across the previous beach, and all the way back to the town of San José for dinner.

Though nothing we did that day left me bored, dinner was another source of entertainment all around. We sat at long tables in a pizza restaurant and I got to sit in the middle of some very funny and interesting conversations on both sides of me. It felt very familial to eat dinner as a whole group and I loved getting to know both other students in the program as well as our orientadores (orientation leaders and University of Granada students) while we asked interesting theoretical questions such as "If your father had to die or you had to die, who would you choose to save?" or "Are humans born vegetarian?" Although I was left fully exhausted on the bus ride home, I was really glad I got to experience all that I did on such an amazing excursion south of Granada.

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Roma Sarathi

I am a Linguistics major at Bryn Mawr College with a vow to learn as many languages as I can. You can find me eating Trader Joe's Chili & Lime Flavored Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips and rewatching a comfort show or movie.

2023 Fall
Home University:
Bryn Mawr College
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