It’s amazing how easy it is to have your prejudices challenged. For instance, one of the places I visited whilst on holiday in Spain was Orihuela – recommended by the guide book I was using as being one of the top 25 places to see on the Costa Bognor. It’s cathedral was also highly recommended, but the thing that clinched it was the promise that it would be free from tourists and ex-pats ….. mmmmmm, we’ll see I thought!
It was true, Spain, real and uncluttered with the trappings of holiday makers and I counted on the fingers of one hand the numbers of those speaking English. My slightly extended Spanish (thanks to the phrase book picked up the day before) enabled me to order coffee AND a still mineral water this time … I’m getting good at this!!
There I was sat enjoying the sights and sounds of the real Spain when my prejudices arose like a wave and were then severely dashed on rocks that I hadn’t realised were below the surface. Sitting near to me were some of those few Brit’s, one was covered from head to foot in tattoos, the others were only slightly less adorned. Strong regional accents confirmed my worst fears, until I closed my eyes and actually started to hear snatches of the conversation. They were all talking about their Christian Ministry and the Church to which they all belonged; discussing the politics that existed within the hierarchy and how best to approach some of the problems of accepting both themselves and others and giving to God. My first reaction was to smile, and my next was to realise just how much I’d pre-judged them. A gentle slap on the wrist was self administered and yet another lesson was learnt.
I find I’m learning lessons like this everyday, sometimes several times a day, at the moment; and it’s been like this for the last couple of years. Each time a realisation, understanding or awareness strikes, it is like a layer of the onion has been peeled back and like pandora’s box, I know that things will never be quite the same again, because of course, you don’t know, what you don’t know – but when you do finally know it, everything changes; your perceptions of yourself, others and the way the world around you works.
There was something inherently special about the time I had to myself in Spain, a stranger in a strange land. I’ve realised I can actually cope with anything, that I’m independent, have an adventurous side I never knew existed and yet I still love England, really because I like my countryside manicured!