It's quite funny, actually, because just a couple days before I came back, I was telling my parents that the trip had gone incredibly well, but was fairly tame, and nothing really radical had happened. I even said it had been kind of boring. (Only in reference to wild adventures, which I tend to expect/experience during my travels and life.) Of course, my father commented on how it wasn't such a bad thing, and enabled everyone to relax a little more. But me, I like a good story, and expect them every time I walk out the door, so I was kinda bummed nothing too nuts had gone down. And then, as an answer to my unintentional prayer, adventure was delivered to me! I had to wait till I was back on Spanish soil for it to happen, but it did, and here it goes...
I flew in and out of Málaga's airport, which means going by blablacar (ride sharing) or bus from my town to Sevilla or Córdoba, and then again by blablacar or bus to Málaga. It's not the greatest arrangement, but every once in a while, it's okay. And I got really lucky with the blablacar I'd arranged to get from Málaga to Sevilla, because they were going to be leaving from the airport, and I wouldn't have to get into town and then sort out where to meet them. This was especially good news considering the previous adventure I'd had prior to departing.
We were meant to leave the airport between 16:30 and 17h, the trip takes about 2 1/2 hours, and the last bus I know about from Sevilla to Écija leaves at 20h, meaning I'd have a perfect amount of time to arrive and catch the bus back home. It seemed like a perfect plan, until four of the five of us who were going to go in the car went to get it from the parking place, and were told it had a flat tire. The couple whose car it is had no idea how this was possible, since they'd driven it there without one, left it there without one, and supposedly the car had been in the care of the parking people for nearly a week. Immediately I knew I wouldn't be making the last bus back to my town, and that I was about to get my adventure.
Surprisingly, it only took about an hour and fifteen minutes for the guy to come (we're in Spain, so that's incredibly fast, really), and instead of taking the car to the workshop, changing the tire, then driving back like they originally planned on doing (which none of us could figure out why, but again, we're in Spain), he just put some gook in it to hold it closed till we could get to Sevilla. So it ended up being about 18:30 when we left, and I started looking for other options to get home.
I learned there might be a bus leaving from the other bus station at 22h, and was putting all my hope in it, because strangely, there were no blablacars leaving from Sevilla to Écija that night as there usually are, nor were there going to be any leaving early enough in the morning to get me back in time for my 8:15 class! Completely opposite of how it usually is. Yep, I'd landed myself right in the middle of a new adventure.
We were driving along the highway for a while, getting closer to Sevilla, and then suddenly, I saw signs for Osuna, a town that's not far from Écija. I asked if we were going to pass through/by Osuna, and we looked on the map to find we'd be going right past it! I know that a lot of people go between Osuna and Écija because the hospital is much larger there than here, and the Holy Spirit started to prompt me and give me that feeling it often does -- that nudging feeling, trying to coax me one way over another, tell me something, guide me. I knew immediately I should just ask to be dropped in Osuna when I felt my chest tightening up, the way it does when an idea that makes me nervous comes to mind, but that comes from a place I know is far Higher than my mind. So what did I do? I tried to get it to back off, suppress it, because I'd rather get to Sevilla hoping there's a bus, than stand outside the hospital in a super-small Spanish town, asking every person that passes if they're going to my town. I was nervous to have to ask so many people, put myself out there like that, and run the risk of not getting back that night.
I started praying, sending messages to people in Écija to ask if they knew anyone going from the hospital that evening, and considered my two options. I really did not want to take the Osuna option, but then I thought about how I try to promote living a life that is based on going with your inner guide, doing things that freak you out, trusting God, and all that stuff I "sell", and I knew I couldn't not take my own advice in that moment. I knew I couldn't sit here and type to you all that it is the best possible thing you can do in your life to put it in the hands of God and trust Him with it all, if I wasn't willing to trust Him as far as to sort out a good, safe, timely lift home for me. I knew exactly what I needed to do. The time had come to stop suppressing the Spirit, and watch God work in my life. So in the last possible minute, as we were about to pass the off ramp into Osuna, I blurted out in full faith, "Could you drop me off at the hospital in Osuna!?" We veered off, and within minutes I was putting on my rucksack and walking towards the doors of the hospital, prepared to face a long string of rejection, but positive it'd all turn out.
In my daily devotional book, one of the quotes I pulled from it and have stuck on my wall says, "If you live your life too safely, you will never know the thrill of seeing Me work through you." (From Jesus, of course:) I read it from time-to-time, and try to allow it to manifest in my life, using it as a sort of creed for being daringly adventurous, always trusting I'll be fine. And this moment seemed too perfect to allow it to be played out. I mean, what's the worst case scenario here? I end up having to walk the 35 kilometers to my town, with my pack on, in twelve hours, all through the night, in order to make it to work on time? God would never let that be the case... I hope. :-/
So I gear up, and get ready to face one of my worst fears and least favorite friends, over, and over, and over, and over again: rejection.
I first went into the hospital to ask the receptionist if she knew anyone who was going to be leaving for Écija, and she said no, but that a lot of shifts were ending at that moment, so loads of people would be leaving. Then I took to standing outside, and asked every single person that came out the doors if they were, by any chance, going to Écija.
I've been told by every hitchhiker I know that Spain is a really hard place to hitch, and they try to avoid it at all costs, because you can lose hours trying to find a lift. So it didn't really surprise me that time after time I was told "no", especially considering what I was wearing, and the fact I looked like a proper hippie/alt-kid backpacker, and definitely smelled pretty bad.
I looked something similar to this, but with a quieter scarf and no flower in my hair, plus my backpacker's pack, which I kind of hid off to the side after a few minutes a.) to relieve my back, and b.) to appear "more normal".
One man said no because he only had room for one person and had to take his mother, one woman said no because her car was too full, one young guy said he could take me tomorrow morning, and would normally help me out in the moment, but he was there to visit his grandma and couldn't leave (kind offer, but I could sense some creepy intentions and was quite pleased he couldn't help me in my moment of need), I'd like to think no one lied when they said no, and then, after "only" 35 minutes of asking (throwing in some, "I live in Écija and work there"'s to try and convince the people I'm not just some weird traveling hippie hopping around small, Spanish towns), I got a "Yes"!!! Enter: Francisco.
Fran, as I shall call him, started by asking me a slew of rapidly delivered questions, as if I were a contestant on 20 questions and the clock was running out fast! At first I was surprised, but when I thought about it from his side, I understood all the curiosity. I mean, what is a young American gal doing standing outside a hospital asking for lifts from one random, small town to another?
He ended up being such a nice person, gave me a bunch of advice about life and traveling, and by the end of the lift, he told me he wished he was 30-years old and single, because then he'd ask me if I wanted to go have a couple beers. Haha! Fran was very kind, and delivered some beautiful words to me about the kind of person I am, that I think was God's way of smiling down on me, telling me I'd done right by trusting Him that far. It's pretty amazing the things that God (life, the Universe, yourself, whatever you choose to put your faith in, if anything/one at all) has in store for us when we just GET OUT OF THE WAY and let it happen!
Truly, there is so much good stuff that wants to happen to us, come to us, and bless us, but our fears, our doubts, our silly, limited human logic, and our inabilities to step aside prevent it all from happening. I hope this story inspires you to take some chances and let life carry you along its Grander-Than-Us Plan! To trust that all will turn out wonderfully if you let it and just trust.
Oh, and if you need some more convincing you haven't somehow gotten through any of my adventures, by taking this option, the "Scary and Uncertain One", I was walking in the door to my house at 21:05, earlier than I would have had we not have had a flat tire and I'd made the 20h bus I was originally planning on taking, and 2 1/2 hours earlier than I would have if there'd been a bus at 22h and I caught it. So really, this option, the one I could have never planned on taking or using, ended up being the best one in the end! Funny how that happens! ;)
Sending you epic amounts of love and light, and wishing you wonder and blessings!