Since I've settled into a new school and made friends, some anxiety has been lifted off my shoulders. My Spanish is still nothing near fluent or even proficient, but I rejoice in small victories such as recognizing new words or formulating a verb without struggling over the conjugation.

On Sunday morning I went out on my host family's boat for a few hours. As we pushed away from the shore I was mesmerized by the view of Dénia - the city perfectly nestled between the mountain of Montgó and the Mediterranean Sea. I stretched out and closed my eyes to embrace the sunlight warming my skin on that beautiful October day... Just one of those "I can't believe I'm really here and this is happening" kind of moments.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I climbed the mountain of Montgó with my host mom, younger sister, and family friends. At first one thinks "this is so easy" because the relatively smooth trail has a gentle incline and its width can fit four across. However, we soon reached the real trail that required us to walk single file, climb steep inclines, and take considerate care to not fall off the side of the mountain. The loose gravel would often slide out from under your feet if a firm step was not planted to hold your weight. We took breaks for water every fifteen minutes and paced ourselves to the top.

"The top" is exactly where we thought we were when we stopped to eat lunch and take in the magnificent view of all the remained below the mountain. Our ultimate destination was to reach the cross though, which we soon found out, would required over another hour's hike. No longer in the shade and protection of the mountain side, our bodies were exposed to the direct sunlight that beat down on us at the time approached noon. Sweat poured down our skin as the climb proved to be even more challenging.

Finally, at the cross, we all sat down to rest and rehydrate while indulging in the breathtaking sight. I plucked two thorns from my shin that had somehow pierced my flesh on the hike up. I found the trickle of blood very suiting though, as I sat at the foot of the cross. We took some pictures, drank more water, and tried to prolong this time of rest before beginning the decent down the mountain.

Some 45 minutes later we began the decent. Before leaving it was announced that everyone was out of water, and the two hour hike in the afternoon heat promised us all a great deal of discomfort. My legs and feet complained at the mercy of each jagged rock they encountered. The only thing willing me to go faster though was the sandpaper in the back of my throat and thick saliva that could barely pass it. Going down the mountain required greater care and patience with the challenging terrain. I felt bad for the young boys that were with us because their legs were much shorter and I could only imagine their discomfort as I took into account my own.

Finally, at the bottom, we piled into the car and chugged down a few warm water bottles that were in the trunk.

I can't deny the amazing view from the top of that mountain. We could see every town and mountain for miles. However, I now understand why most residents of Dénia only make that hike once in their lifetime! ;)