A Backpacking Story

August 2011
Granada, Spain

“So what if it was no longer acceptable to drift with the wind, asking for bread and a roof, sleeping on bales of hay and enjoying dalliances with barefooted farm boys, then running away before the harvest? This was the life I wanted, blowing around like a leaf with appetites.” — Steve Toltz, A Fraction of the Whole

Let me tell you a story.

In a resplendent little hostel nestled along the cobblestoned slopes of Albayzin, Granada, worked a man from Boston by the name of Nick. I met this amicable young man during my travels this summer when I stayed at the Makoto Backpacker’s Hostel. He showed me around — “Here’s our little kitchen. Breakfast is free, from 8 to 11 each morning”, “These are our hammocks, we only request that you take your shoes off when you use them”, “Here’s your bed for the next three nights” — and then proceeded to pour me an awful version of Tinto de Verano at the ramshackle bar.


One night, after wandering around Granada for hours and even getting lost for a little while, I returned to the hostel tired and sweaty and plopped myself down at the bar.

“So how’ve you been?” Nick enquired, as he poured me another Tinto de Verano.
“Good. I love this city.”

As I sipped my drink, I was overcome with curiosity about how someone from Boston came to work in a quirky little hostel in the hills of southern Spain.

“Well, I backpacked to Granada last year—sort of like you, actually—and stayed at the Oasis hostel. And I fell in love with the city, so I moved here.” Simple.

Now this story might not be particularly extraordinary, but some of you might share my admiration for the idea of packing your bags on an impulse and going after something you want without really knowing what lies ahead.

And for abandoning the futile pursuit of wealth and social status for something more satisfying.

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