Losing My Innocence in Spain

An Innocent Abroad

It’s about time I lose my innocence. Again. This fantasy of mine has been swelling up, transforming, and growing beyond the limits of my imagination for 17 years now.

Many people think that innocence is something that is lost once we hit adulthood. Once we have sex, fall in love, become heartbroken, try a drug, commit a crime, lose a loved one, get a “real job.” We are then experienced, and the wonder and naivete we once carried is forever gone. This, in fact, is not the case.

I met Don George this past January at Diesel, A Bookstore in Oakland, California, US. He edited a recently published Lonely Planet anthology entitled, An Innocent Abroad. I had the honor of meeting and listening to Jenna Scatena and Jeff Greenwald, both well-established travel writers, read their stories of purity lost on the road. While Jenna told of her experience following a caveman through the Thai forest, Jeff read an account of his first time attending Burning Man. As I sat there, soaking in their carefully chosen words that wove tales of extreme adventure and wild bacchanalia, a deep longing burst within me. First off, these two are top notch writers. No words are wasted. No triteness. No boring chronology. Just an expansive vocabulary used to tell a story as it should be told- to take you on their journey with them. I was inspired to be a better writer, which I hadn’t felt in awhile.

The second emotion aroused that night was one of hypnotic wanderlust. I fell in love with travel again. To be sure, I’ve never fallen out of love with travel. It has never betrayed, disappointed, trapped, or bored me. Travel is the best lover I have ever had. But that night, and each consequent day I’ve read the anthology’s pages, my fervor has overwhelmed me. So much so, that I have made a decision.

It is time to end my innocence. This yearning has gone on far too long. At the age of 16, I sat on my parents’ balcony, overlooking the foothills, while reading Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. The way he described the lush verdure of rolling hills as he drove into Pamplona seized me as Jack Kerouac’s cross-country American Dream road trips had. I wanted to be there; I needed to be there. I imagined myself as part of the Lost Generation, sitting at a cafe, sipping wine, smoking a cigarette while intellectualizing with my well-educated, well-traveled friends. (Very cliche, but I was a young teenager who had never been on an airplane, let alone in another country.) I was hooked. The idea of tapas, siestas, colonial architecture, the Spanish language- even the brutal sport of bullfighting- would cloud my mind as I attempted to study Chemistry and U.S. History. I would take Spanish lessons to fulfill my language requirement (which delighted my mother due to our Mexican heritage), and then I would take a year off before college to move to Spain (which did not at all delight my mother) to become fluent in castellano.

Nonetheless, life happens, new interests spark, and paths diverge. I never took a year off before college, and I never went to Spain. Instead, I’ve had a crazy roller coaster of a life, visited 23 countries, become fluent in Spanish and (quasi-fluent in) Brazilian Portuguese, traveled through lands alone where I spoke not one word of the language. I’ve had days when I’ve felt invincibly, boldly happy, and days when I couldn’t get out of bed. Days when I wore a ring on my wedding finger and days when I swore I’d never love again. I’ve peered into the monstrous eyes of dehumanized violence and beheld the gaze of enlightened kindness. You’d think I’d no more innocence to lose, but I do.

My ticket is purchased and I leave to Barcelona in less than two weeks. I recently had a full-time job that I thought would be my dream career, and that was a massive deception that quickly dissipated. My bank account is as good as empty, but safety nets are illusory anyway. This will be the first time I travel without any savings. It will also be the first time I will attempt to secure lodging through house sitting and couch surfing. Maybe I’m insanely foolish, or possibly just tenaciously determined. I’m not quite sure what the self-labeling should be right now, but I am going to Spain.

If you’d like to help out with my journey by offering me advice or a place to stay, purchasing some of the jewelry I’ve collected in Latin America,  or donating to my Trevolta fundraiser, I would be ever grateful! You would be an integral part of this journey that is truly a mystery to me. I don’t know what to expect, but I am infinitely excited and ready for all of the adventure to be had, and all of the innocence to be lost.

Do you have a similar story of losing your innocence? Have you traveled without money before? What do you think of An Innocent Abroad? Please share your experiences in the comments; I’d love to hear your feedback!

32 thoughts on “Losing My Innocence in Spain

  1. She Dreams of Travel says:

    You are going to have an amazing time in Spain! I loved reading about how you came to make the decision to finally make the trip here. It takes a lot of courage what you are doing, and I am sure you will be rewarded for it. I’m currently living in Seville so if you find your way down to the south during your time in Spain we can meet up if you’d like 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. fallequinox2006 says:

    You’ll enjoy your adventures in Spain no matter what. It’s much better to experience the world than just stay in one place doing something that’s a routine. The only regret I have in life is not starting to extensively travel when I was younger.


    • Cristina Luisa says:

      Thank you! So far, Spain has been amazing. You’re right, routine is awful. I wish I’d started younger, too, but then again, if I’d gone directly after high school, I may not have ever gone to college! 😉


  3. Bemused Backpacker says:

    I understand that disillusionment of your ‘dream’ career turning out to be not so much, believe me. But don’t ever let anyone tell you (including yourself) that you aren’t doing the right thing here. Don’t worry about things like finances, security, blah blah blah. Things always have a way of working out and you will find a way if you want it enough. Follow your dreams is always a massive cliche, but what else are we here for? Hope you have an awesome time in Spain!


  4. Elena says:

    Great choice by the way! i came here (Barcelona) almost 10 years ago and wherever I go travelling after a while I always come back here. Feels more home than my home country – you will understand me when you get here :)) if you need any tips before or after arrival, please feel free to ask


  5. jennmalka says:

    Your writing is truly wonderful. But im excited for you and your adventure! It will change you for the better! Spain is such an amazing place, you will have the best time.


  6. The Roaming Renegades.com says:

    Though provoking and really well written. I totally get where you are coming from, we are turning our backs on the idea of careers and paths set our for us and soon setting off around the world. Best of luck to you, the greatest thing is to throw away all those fears and to just go for that thing you really want, then you can live without regret. Go for it 100% and you will have an unforgettable time!


  7. lesvoyagesdumonde says:

    Wow, thought provoking and really well written! The way you describe Pamplona and Hemingway’s words, have ttruly inspired me! I’m putting it on hold, and will need to give a read. Can’t wait to see where your travels take you, and understand completely: there are moments that remind you why it is that you travel and why you fell in love with it in the first place.


  8. Melody Pittman says:

    Cool post! Sounds like you are ready for a new take on life and I am so happy for you. Best wishes in everything with your travels. May you find the love in the most unexpected ways and places.


  9. heather843 says:

    It takes courage to do what you’re doing and I’m sure many of us wish we could too but are too worried by not have that (albeit illusionary) ‘safety net’ under us. Good luck with the transition, you’re going to have an amazing experience not matter how it turns out!


  10. mdookeran says:

    You have the determination and inspiration you will find your way and realise what a beautiful world is out there. Barcelona, I’ll be there in April! There are many posts I have read of people successfully travelling through couch surfing and house sitting, you can do it too my dear. All it takes is the first step and you are already headed in the right direction.


  11. whileimyoungandskinny says:

    This was a great read! I just love Hemingway and I am SO jealous that you’re off to Barcelona. It’s my dream to live in Spain one day.


  12. Gabor Kovacs says:

    I moved to Barcelona a decade ago from Hungary, and although I left several times for traveling, always ended up back again in this wonderful city. What you feel now, I remember from back then. If you need tips about visiting the city or whatever else, feel free to contact us!


  13. Anquanette says:

    Great read! I’m even more convinced now that my desire to go to Spain for a 4-5 month cultural immersion program is not crazy at all. In fact, it’s the most amazing thing one could do! You will have an amazing time & you won’t have to look back and ask “what if?” I don’t plan on traveling to Spain until October but if you’re still there, it would be a great adventure (and an awesome article for us to write about) if we were to meet up! All the best in your travels!


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