Once returning from Ecuador, I took a week to unpack, wash my clothing and reflect on the Journey. I had severe trouble with prior injuries at altitude but still had an appetite for something that would place me in mortal peril. The answer was the Caminito del Rey in southern Spain. Heralded as the most dangerous hike in the world, and only a few hairs above sea level, this was right up my alley.
I ended work on a Monday morning and was on a flight moments later, sleeping through some amazing service on a Turkish Airlines flight I paid way to much for. I landed, hopped in the car I arranged and drove two hours to the beautiful town of Ronda, Spain. This old, tiny little fortress resembled King’s Landing and had some amazing bridges, castles and cathedrals. Stuffing my bags in a locker at a bus terminal, I immediately went to work, prepping for the next day’s hike. Hiding in a Vinyard just outside of town, I launched my drone Icarus, catching some amazing footage of the massive Arabian fortress and the beautiful bridges the town keeps up. As I found out while entering the country, Spain has some serious laws for using drones. A €6,000 fine for anyone caught doing serious fuckery like I was. Obviously, they’ll never take me alive….but I didn’t push the envelope either. I still wanna keep my day job back home.
Since the sun doesn’t go down till 10PM, and nothing ever really closes, I made the most of things. Bumbled through gimmicky tours, bought my niece a dress at a custom shop and blitzed through one hell of a wine tasting. God bless those Spaniards and their wine, and God bless the serve yourself/honest system they use. Sleep being an afterthought, and I didn’t really have time for it, I grabbed a ride to the trailhead, sleeping in the backseat.
The Camanito del Rey. A sloppy walkway erected early in the century, its deterioration made traversing the massive gorge a serious problem. Thrill seakers like myself would rope in using a harness/helmet/brass testicles, tip toe over the walkway and hope they weren’t one of the many people to fall to their death (there were quite a few, although the memorial plaque was in Spanish, and who knows how to read those heiroglyphics anyway).
The trailhead was a bit fucked up. There are no signs, no fun walkways or well lit paths. The only help you have is a sole information booth situated no where near where you need to be. My Spanish tongue equating to a blind man reading Michael J. Fox’s grocery list, I relied on simple hand gestures and grunts to speak to a lovely Spanish girl who seemed fed up with my American bullshit. Walking a wooded path two miles into the forest, I thought she had grunted me off into oblivion. However, this path opened up to a little ticket booth and the party had begun.
Although you still have to wear a helmet, and they’re pretty strict about how many people are allowed each day, the path was a shadow of its former glory. Yes, you could still die. Yes, there were parts I didn’t like. But it really ended up being a nice little jaunt with some stunning visuals. I’m glad I made my way out here and added this to my outdoor resume. After ending on a good note (I found a stray cat. She purred like a friggin machine), I found my driver and made a race back to the airport. Late for my flight, I used my dashing good looks and salon quality hair to slip on just in time for takeoff. Four hours and a nap later and I awoke in yet another smelly Arab country.
Now don’t get all triggered on me, just try and hear me out. Fact number 1: I’ve been in more Arab countries than you. No, I’m really serious. The list of ones I haven’t been to is much much smaller than the other list, which is still probably way bigger than your list. One of the benefits of military service, ask your recruiter for more information. Fact number 2: they all have a certain smell. Some non-Arab countries could probably smell similar , and Turkey is right on that line, however let’s not get off point. The air has a scent. That air, once hitting your nostrils, gets imbedded in your memory. That memory was recalled once my layover took effect in Istanbul.
Visa in hand, and a shower badly needed, I made my way to my hotel, put on my Sunday best and hit the town, just squeaking on to a hooka boat heading up the Bosphorus.
Separating the Black and Aegean seas, the Bosphorus was lined with Mosque after Mosque spewing out the evening call to prayer while I boozed my tears away and made smoke rings like a cattipilar on a mushroom. Flanked by belly dancers, I engulfed a leg of lamb till I had to adjust my belt. This was the way to end a trip. Forgetting myself, I made my way back to land and hoofed it to the airport, catching some must needed sleep on the flight home. My flight arrived in Boston leaving me enough time to get to work and shave in the restroom. Having some unsightly razor burn is a small price to pay for kicking ass in a small amount of time.