I first left Sweden when I was 20 years old. I started working the day after I graduated from high school, three hours after the party had finished. I saved money to go away. I did my driver's licence, and I found myself a job abroad. Any job would do, and any country, too, all I knew, was that I wanted to explore the world, and life outside of Sweden.
I got a job as an au-pair in a Swedish family, who were moving to Alicante for a year.
Once there, I met many nice people from all over the world. One of them was Georges, from Canada. We decided to rent a car for a few days and go camping. We looked at a map, and we found Cabo de Gata, a natural park, outside the city Almería. We decided to go there.
Road trips are always fun. We took off in the afternoon and arrived in the dark, so we had to stay in the city of Almería instead of camping in nature, as we had no idea of where to go.
We found a family-run hostal in town, with a patio in the middle of the big, old house, and tall ceilings. We had dinner in a busy Mexican restaurant and we walked the fiesta-packed streets.
The next day, we drove off into Cabo de Gata.
This area receives the least rain in all of Europe. It is very, very dry. There are cactuses growing and the landscape is dry and desert-like. A Bond-movie was shot here, at the "Playa de los Muertos"- the beach of the dead.
I cannot describe this place in a good way. It has to be seen and felt for itself. But what I can describe, is what it did for me.
It opened up the traveller soul inside me. It unlocked who I am.
So far in my life, I had been an adventure-seeking teenager. But spending a few days here, in this radical, extreme landscape, with its majestic silence and naked beauty, woke me up to who I am. A traveller at heart. Someone who wants to see what else is out there. Not just parties and gossip, but the real world, beyond.
I sat on the empty beach, naked. I listened to the sound of the pebbles as they rolled in, and out, with the strong waves. I felt the sun on my skin. I tasted the salt on my lips. I saw cactuses and nothingness, and I got frightened. How do I make this experience stay with me? How do I not forget about this feeling, this beauty?
Back in those days, we wrote letters. I wrote a letter to my parents, and I asked them how to make beautiful moments stay with me. I wrote "I am afraid that I will lose it". My father told me that experiences will always be part of me. In fact, they are the only thing that I will truly own in my life.
I returned to Cabo de Gata in 2008, with my ex. Our relationship ended very soon after. I came here again a few days ago. I felt as if it was a new beginning. I felt as if I accepted my destiny. My destiny, lies, in fact, in this country. It may not always be easy to live here. But it is here that most internal things have happened in my life. Healing. Endings. Beginnings. Acceptance.