For lots of folks, the fondness of travel and the drive to write are like Siamese twins — two heads growing out of the same body. It only seems natural. If travel is a way to self-actualize and writing is a form of self-expression, both activities can be personally fulfilling.
But, in my case, it seems the twin drives have been surgically separated. Each twin survives but feels the presence of a phantom limb. Every time I travel, I *dread* the accompanying compulsion to write about the trip. Though I feel something should be said, the truth is: I never know what to say.
I suck at recapping. I can’t pick the best pictures. I forget the name of that hotel or that restaurant or that clever phrase in the foreign language. I don’t know how to convey the breathless beauty of that landscape (where was it again?) or the zen-like tranquility of that moment (does a long series of “um”s equal one long “oooooom”?). And when I Google the accounts of other travelers to the same place, I find it’s already been eloquently described so many times over that any attempt to encapsulate my experience wouldn’t be worth the effort.
Such was my feeling when I initially returned from Seville, Spain, where I’d gone during the recent school holidays. But then, something unusual happened. I Googled one of my favorite areas we’d visited and found no traveler accounts of it whatsoever. No guidebook mentioned it. I even took out our map of Seville and didn’t find it on the map!
Okay, fine. In a city that boasts the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and more palaces than you can shake a flamenco dancer’s fan at, people aren’t going to be thronging to see the Science and Technology Park. Though the area was used for activities during the 1992 Universal Exposition, today, it’s just where corporations set up shop. Despite being off the beaten track, it turned out to be really, really cool part of the city.
You see, we’d done the whole wine-and-tapas-with-an-accordion-player-straddling-the-salt-and-pepper-shakers thing for a few days already (that is to say, we’d exhausted the obviously charming, touristy neighborhoods). We wanted to get a little away from our little getaway. And so we walked…
…. Past any place where you could hear English or French being spoken (many of the other tourists were French families taking advantage of the school holidays)… past any place you could see people, period… past the unmanned booth at the gate of a parking lot… past the parking lot… more parking lots. Buildings of a science-fictional appearance came into view. It was a Sunday, and they were all abandoned.
“It’s like we’re in Resident Evil or something,” I whispered to Z, so that the zombies wouldn’t overhear. Obviously, the undead had overrun the corporate laboratories that’d created them, necessitating the utmost caution.
Then, it happened: we were trapped. After passing eerie edifices for half an hour, we found ourselves stuck in a lot surrounded by a fence. And not just any fence — a diabolical fence. You see, this fence was made of rows of vertical pipes spaced just a little too closely together for a human being to slip through.
But that didn’t stop us from trying. After circling the lot and gnashing our teeth for a bit, I spotted a pair of pipes that seemed to have more than the standard space between them. I sucked my stomach in like a Sports Illustrated model, then threw myself at the gap. A bit of wiggling — and I was through!
It was Z’s turn. He squeezed into the gap. Wiggled. Wiggled some more. Tried to move back. Tried to go forward. Oh God, I thought. Please don’t let me have to call the Sevillan authorities and explain that my boyfriend is stuck in a fence. Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary, as – only a few bruised ribs later – he too plopped through to freedom.
Well, it had been a narrow escape from the zombies, and we were feeling pretty dead ourselves at this point. As we crawled back to civilization, Seville rewarded our adventures with a glorious sunset over the park.