Author: Isabel Orno
When my dad had first told me I was going to Spain, I was elated. I was so happy to finally be doing something on my own and learning for myself. I wasn’t completely alone, because we had family friends living in Reus, Spain, which is where I stayed. However it was one of the first real trips I took on my own without any relatives to accompany me. Yes, 5 weeks seemed like a lifetime to a 15 year old, and I knew I was going to miss my friends and family, but I was more than ready to do this on my own.
After about three weeks in Reus, a smaller city about an hour south of Barcelona, my family friends Claus and Natalia decided that we should go on a trip. Claus could afford to take a day off of work, and their two boys, Victor and Mark, would love to come as well. It was decided that they would take me up north to the ski resort that they rent a room from. It was a small place in the town of Lleida, about three and a half hours north of Reus, where we explored the surrounding villages and ski resorts for the following two days.
Out of all the places we visited, the Aigüestortes National Park, which was about an hour drive from the ski resort, made the biggest impression on me. Even from a distance it was so beautiful. The mountains were lush green and covered in pines with snowy tips. There were wild animals roaming around, and we even saw a donkey when we first drove in! We paid the fee to get into the park, and then we started hiking.
I’d always considered myself as relatively fit, until we started hiking up those mountains. It seemed like we would never reach the top, and with each step it was getting harder to keep moving. I was short of breath and kept losing my footing due to the uneven lay of the land and jutting rocks here and there. But once you reached the top, it was as if you were on top of the world, just looking over everything below. We kept following different paths through the park, and after a few hours, we reached a lake.
This part of the Pyrenees Mountains was unlike anything else I’d ever seen in my life. It literally felt like Heaven on Earth. We sat on giant boulders overlooking the lake, and Mark, Victor and I decided to climb down and wade in the water because it was so hot. One of my pictures featured is the view from the top of the rocks to where we were at the bottom. We took our shoes off and dipped our feet in the ice cold water that was so clear you could see everything underneath. We sat at this lake for a long time, just admiring our surroundings. I knew that, for me, there was nothing else that compared to this place here on this Earth, and ever since that day, I have an incredible appreciation for nature and all that it has to offer. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to experience this place in that kind of setting, so relaxed and beautiful, and I know I am so lucky to have had that chance.