Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Fancy a walk?

by : 
Lynsey Pilcher

I am not an outdoor person. Outdoors is wet, it’s cold, and there’s nowhere to plug in your GHDs.  So you can imagine my reaction when a teacher at my school asked if I’d like to join a group of staff and pupils on a walk in the Castillian countryside?

Exactly – I’d rather gauge my eyes out with rusty spoons.

Well, that would have been my usual reaction.  But since coming on my year abroad, my outlook on things has changed. I’m the new girl now, the ‘foreigner’. I need to take any opportunity to make friends with both hands – or as my mum put it, ‘Go to the opening of an envelope if you’re invited.’  And you know how mums have a nasty habit of being right.  So with a few reservations, I said yes. Anyway it was only a walk – how bad could it be?
Famous last words, eh?

Alarm bells started ringing about two seconds after I’d said yes. ‘Great,’ said the teacher in question. ‘See you at the school at 8am on Saturday…and bring your walking boots.’ I think my blank face said it all. She just smiled and said trainers would be fine. But I was worried now - what was I letting myself in for?

Well, it turned out the term ‘walk’ had been vastly misleading. I was expecting a nice tranquil saunter through fields filled with flowers, a leisurely lunch perhaps. No such luck. At 10.15am, after an hour and a half bus journey into the midst of Spanish nothingness we began trekking. And trekking is really the only word for it: we scrambled up rocks, fought our way through trees, and slid down muddy slopes…well I did, at least. Bloody trainers. And, as always, I ended up at the back of the group, practically having to be dragged up the last part of our climb by the exasperated computing teacher. ‘You should have had a backpack’ he said, giving my bag a withering look. In hindsight, maybe my black patent handbag wasn’t exactly the best choice...

Anyway, at 5.30pm we eventually arrived back at the bus. Having only had three twenty minute breaks the whole day, I felt like the living dead. However, the teachers treated me to a coffee break on the way home (apparently I looked in need of one - charming), and although I’ve had to endure endless ‘enjoy the trek, did we Lynsey?’ remarks ever since, I actually do feel like I’ve bonded with them more now. Even the pupils who came on the trip have actually stared talking to me out of will, which is really nice. I had to endure what was quite possibly the worst day of my life for this pleasure, but hey no pain no gain, right? They’ve even asked me if I want to go on the next ‘walk’ in April.

I’m getting back to them on that one…

Discussion

Are you an outdoor person, or do you prefer the comfort of staying at home?