A travel moment in Wales

My first experience travelling on my own didnít start very well; I lost my wallet on the train and spent the first few days dependent upon the wonderful people of the Betws-y-Coed Tourist Information Centre. Gradually though, the rain and my spirits lifted and I began to enjoy my first visit to the land of my great-grandparents.
I went walking everyday; after months in London, I could breathe in the fresh mountain air, stop for lunch on a rock on the edge of a lake in the middle of a pine forest. I ate minimally, having around £100 to pay for all my food and travel for a week. I visited every church within ten miles, partly to get out of the driving rain and partly to experience the cold musty smell, as soothing as the flickering candles in votive holders.
Itís hard to say whether there was a crowning moment on that holiday. I learned a lot about myself and the amazing people who inhabit remote villages and youth hostels in Snowdonia. I learned not to be too proud to ask for help, which is often given in times of need. Many kind people made my stay in the mountains of northern Wales not only possible, but unforgettable.
However, I have to say that the best part of my stay in Wales was not being in the land of my ancestors; it was being in a land that is so much a part of the present. The wind and rain -swept landscape, the craggy mountains, the startlingly beautiful views, the collision of post modern mentality and traditional values. In Wales I realised how much my American upbringing colours my everyday reality. My climb up Mount Snowdon made me think about the nature of life and success: breathtaking views and sunny weather on the climb up, then as soon as I reached the top the heavens opened and I was forced into a hasty descent, not able to stop and enjoy the triumph for fear of being blown off the top of the mountain in the gale that quickly developed. But I have no fear of failure anymore; after all there are other mountains to climb and maybe the weather will be better.

J Gates

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