Most who know me know that I have a really terrible sense of direction. Not like ‘Ooops I’m on the wrong street’ but like ‘Ooops I’m in the wrong city.’ And I will walk for an hour in the wrong direction sometimes before the thought even crosses my mind of ‘Wait, maybe I should have turned left back there…’
This is something I’ve become aware of (how many times have I stressed the importance of knowing what kind of traveler you are?) and I now know to address this problem ahead of time. When someone tells me it’s only a 20 minute walk to get somewhere, I immediately ask if it’s easy to get lost on the way. Because a 20 minute walk for a normal person can easily turn into an hour long walk for me. Not that I mind walking, but it’s just good to know ahead of time if I’m going to be cluelessly wandering around some windy side streets or if it’s something I can easily handle. Like if I’ll be walking straight for 20 minutes. Even I can’t screw that up. *knocks on wood*
Before I started this trek, I made sure to ask every single person I talked to about how easy it was to get lost. And every single one of them told me that it was impossible to get lost on this hike. Plus, I didn’t really get lost at all on day one aside from some deviations, and those were on purpose. So they don’t count. I had a ton of confidence after day one and everyone telling me it was impossible to get lost.
Well, I sure showed them! Don’t ever let anyone tell you something isn’t possible! Anything is possible if you want it bad enough (or are careless and stupid enough)!
I started day two of my Gozo coastal walk in Xlendi, the town I left off in on day one with the amazing sunset. I would be walking from Xlendi to Dwejra Bay near San Lawrenz, which should have been an easy 11 kilometers (7.5 miles) along the coast. The beginning of the walk lead me through an adorable little town called Kercem, just up the hill from Xlendi. I plugged in a few of the other stops along the way into google maps before I left (my GPS works even when I don’t have service) so I would have a general idea which direction to go once I turned off the road and onto the trail.
But, like technology does sometimes, google maps betrayed me and I have little to no sense of direction to fall back on.
When I say google maps betrayed me, I mean that it completely lost the route I had plugged into it, and also tried to direct me to walk off a cliff. Sick burn google, telling me to go walk off a cliff. I mean I’ve probably yelled that at people before but to actually almost trick me into doing it was just a whole other level of maniacal. Props google, ya almost got me.
Anyways, I was basically just following a very overgrown trail that sometimes wasn’t a trail anymore, but then would turn into a trail again. At one point I was walking through someone’s farmland? That’s really not allowed at all, but I was no longer on the coastal walk trail I think, and the people in the field just waved at me, smiled, and pointed at where the trail picked back up. Have I mentioned that Maltese people are super friendly?
I knew that if I just stayed along the coast, eventually I would end up near San Lawrenz, so I just went with that and kept going.
This obviously added a ton of time and distance onto this hike. And a lot the walking was through a trail that hadn’t been used much, so it was very overgrown. I have a pretty intense fear of things that hide in long grass, so that was quite stressful for me. My thoughts while wading through the grass consisted of:
*rusting sound next me* Oh God what was that…?
Are there venomous snakes in Malta?
Why the hell didn’t I check to see if there were venomous snakes in Malta before I left?
Are there ticks in Malta?
Will the guy at my air bnb notice if I don’t make it home tonight?
Wow, look at that cliff! *runs to edge of cliff*
Definitely need a picture of that!
OUCH HOLY SH*T! Why do the pretty flowers always have f*cking thorns?
The one thing that helps me get over a frantic mentality like this is thinking about another time I got lost while hiking. It was absolutely terrifying. Nothing will ever be as bad as that time Rob and I were lost in the mountains in Slovenia, so when I think about that it always makes me feel better about whatever gummed up situation I’ve gotten myself into. Maybe I’ll post about it someday, when I’m ready to talk about it again.
After about an hour of walking along a beautiful, sometimes overgrown or non-existent, totally secluded trail, I saw some hikers off in the distance and realized that my trail and the real one were finally going to intersect.
The one thing I will say about this leg of the coastal walk is it was absolutely beautiful. There were so many wild flowers everywhere, and cliffs, and the occasional little cliff side hut (which reassured me that at least someone else had been there recently and I would be fine). The weather was perfect, the scenery was amazing, and I enjoyed it even more than day one. I was truly by myself, in the gorgeous countryside of Gozo, with only the occasional lizard or kind farmer to briefly keep me company and point me in the right direction. It’s so special to find an area that is so uncontaminated by outside influences, and that privilege was in the front of my thoughts throughout the entire hike (aside from a few panicky thoughts I had about snakes).
So I got lost yet again, but it was far from a failure. In fact, I’m extremely happy that I did the impossible and found a way to get lost! Maybe my subconscious took what those people told me about it being impossible as a challenge. I can now confirm that it is definitely possible to get lost on the Gozo coastal walk, and actually I highly recommend it.