Even before going abroad, I’ve already learned a lesson: Traveling is nothing more than misadventure.
My semester in Mexico begins this month, so I spent my lengthy vacation looking for ways to pass the time. When my friend Jess invited me to visit her in Mallorca, the small Mediterranean island where she is studying Spanish, I jumped at the chance.
I soon discovered that when I’m in a place I know little about, any number of things can and will go wrong. Perhaps my most humorous and harrowing misadventure occurred the day Jess and I visited Pollença.
About an hour out from the city where Jess lives, the village of Pollença lies at the foot of a mountain. At the top of the mountain sits a 14th-century shrine called the Puig de Santa Maria, a destination for adventurous hikers and spiritual pilgrims.
Jess had visited the sanctuary before, so she took me around back where we climbed to a patio with an unlocked door.
Once inside the sanctuary, we found ourselves in a long kitchen. Another door opened to a small courtyard. Jess led the way.
As I closed the door, I realized it had no doorknob on the courtyard side. It was too late. The lock on the kitchen side of the door fell back into place.
Jess and I looked around. An iron gate was chained and locked. A door leading into another room was also locked. The rough stone walls were climbable, but the roof jutted out a few feet, blocking any path over the building.
An hour passed as we tried kicking the doors open and prying wood away so we could reach the locks. Nothing brought success, and the last bus out of Pollença was going to leave in an hour and a half.
I considered the 30-degree nights on the top of the mountain.
Finally, Jess noticed an open window about nine feet off the ground. She boosted me up on her shoulders, and I pulled myself through. The window was about 2 feet wide by 2 feet high, and I was hanging headfirst into a room full of junk. Somehow, I turned around and landed safely on my feet.
I shoved my way through brooms and benches, only to find the door locked with a chain. In desperation, I pulled the door as hard as I could, and the chain ripped away.
After I freed Jess from the courtyard, we walked out of the sanctuary, giggling in hysterical relief.
All I could think was, My God, if this is what happens to me in Spain, how am I going to survive Mexico?
Sara E. Howard is a junior journalism and politics major. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.