The first vacation that I consider a life-changing experience would be my most recent trip to Malaga, Spain last June to visit my Aunt Elaine. While in Malaga, my aunt introduced my mom and me to its people, places, and culture. We walked, not drove, everyday to the beach and back to meet interesting new people and to ultimately experience what ordinary life was like in Spain. One day, my Aunt drove us far away from the coastal city in which she lived, up into the winding, unending hills to a small town named Mijas. The scenery that was flying by outside my passenger window was beginning to change, slowly but surely; the tall, bricked apartment buildings and busy streets were transforming into quieter roads, with less apartment buildings and more houses. As my aunt’s manual silver Nissan trudged higher and higher into the hills the view seemed to change colors into the dark greens and browns of land. I could now see hundreds of small farms and even the treetops from small forests scattered in the distance. We eventually reached the pleasant little town at the top of the hill, and as I stepped out of the small car, I took one step forward and then froze. I felt as if I was on top of the world, as if I had just conquered Mt. Everest, as if I could see everything. I inhaled deeply, breathing in the smell of rain and dew settling upon the town, possibly because I was so close to the clouds. There was no longer the taste of sea-salt in the air that constantly drifted in from the Mediterranean, just the smell and taste of clean, fresh air.
I walked slowly towards the edge of the hill; the view was amazing, unbelievable, and unreal. This spot was easily the most beautiful picture my eyes had ever witnessed. As I viewed the picturesque scene as a whole, I saw the dark blue of the ocean, the white tops of buildings and houses, and the green and brown mixtures of all the land in between. But as I stood at the edge, I began to realize what I was truly looking at. On the top of the hills surrounding me to my left, I saw extravagant mansions and condos towering majestically above the sea, with their black BMW’s and Mercedes’ waiting right outside the front doors, while at the bottom of those same hills were rows of tiny shacks in which I could see young children crowding around a soccer ball in the gravel street. Straight ahead in front of me I saw thousands of miles of blue sea stretching across the horizon, and when I looked down to my right I saw nothing but miles of green hills. I was seeing two opposite parts of this world coming together as one. In my mind, each individual area I saw represented a puzzle piece, and in the end all the pieces fit together to create an unforgettable and unbreakable masterpiece.
Standing there at the top of the hill in Mijas made me realize how truly lucky we are as humans to live in such an amazing place. I felt truly humbled by the magnificence of my surroundings. This experience has taught me to view the world as a much bigger place than just the bubble we live in everyday. By recognizing the extraordinary beauty of the world around us, we learn to appreciate what we have, what other places and cultures can offer, and ultimately to see a much larger picture of life.
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