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The Traveling Bean

A Humbling Journey

UNITED KINGDOM | Wednesday, 14 May 2014 | Views [72] | Scholarship Entry

With fear I knew I was not where I needed to be, as my optimistically blue suitcase and I rolled down the barren platform behind the only other woman who’d gotten off the train. She informed me that I had just stepped off into Clynderwen, a town in Wales I’d never heard of. I looked around to find myself not at a train station, but at a train stop––one that consisted of a measly brick shelter, doing a poor job of sheltering the very wet bench from the rain. I asked myself, no less confused than before, “How did I end up here?”
I continued toward the exit. A small red car was waiting, its engine whirring impatiently. The driver, a small old man with a plaid waistcoat got out to help the woman with her suitcase. I stood uncertainly next to an enormous, outdated timetable, knowing only that this place looked absolutely nothing like bustling Haverfordwest, where I would take the bus to St. Davids and arrive at my aunt’s house in time for dinner.
I would tell anyone that St. Davids was without a doubt my favorite place in the world; a city to which I knew all the ins and outs as well as my bedroom––from the best running paths along the coast to the coziest places to write during the rain. To travel there on my own for the first time, during my first college semester in England, I felt would truly define my independence. Yet after I had stupidly reinserted my earphones after the train conductor announced that the next stop was Haverfordwest, a woman asked to be let off at Clynderwen, a Stop-by-Request. There I stood, every drop of optimism draining as I was informed that there were no buses at all, when it hit me: I was stranded.
To learn that in three hours another train would stop there again only made my circumstance a little less gloomy. The prospect of sitting in the icy rain for the next three hours to wait for a train that I dared to believe was coming, based on a stranger’s words, was enough to bring me to tears, slumped on the wet bench, waiting.
Three hours is long enough, let alone three hours when all there is to do is think about my mistake and wonder if it would leave me homeless that night. I felt belittled by my travel attempt, humiliated by my false confidence, and finally, when the train did come three hours later, leaving no details unnoticed, my journey got me from Clynderwen, to Haverfordwest, to St. Davids, and I was humbled by the whole very real, trying, and very unanticipated experience.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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