Lagos, Portugal | July 6, 2016 | 6:45am
I never sleep well in hostels. In fact, sleeping anywhere besides my bed is always a challenge. When I travel, I simply accept the fact that I won’t sleep well for a few days or weeks, or however long my trip happens to be. It’s fine. Friends and family know my mantra: I'll sleep when I'm dead.
So I'm pleasantly surprised when I wake up from a few hours of much-needed good sleep after our second night at the Boca Surf Hostel in Lagos, Portugal. I open my eyes just a minute before my 5:45am alarm goes off. Unencumbered by the typical weight of exhaustion, I quietly slip on my sandy sneakers, grab my camera and car keys, and venture out into the early pre-dawn light.
The beach is only a five-minute drive away. I park and step into the warm morning. Thick, salty air swirls around me. No matter where you go in Portugal, you are greeted with a breeze.
At the other side of the parking lot, a group of young 20-somethings is still raging. Surrounded by empty bottles and crumpled bags of potato chips, they dance and laugh and yell into the wind. I smile, reminded of a similar morning I experienced on New Years Day in Sydney, Australia a few years ago.
I turn away from the revelry to look out over the ocean. The water is placid and the sky is plain—a wall of dismal, gray clouds blending into dark blue water creates a stubbornly monochromatic backdrop.
Well I’m here, I think to myself. I’ll just wait for a little bit. Maybe the clouds will break up some. Maybe the sun will poke through at some point.
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Why didn’t I bring my book? I wish my phone had service here. With nothing to do but occasionally glance over at the party kids—now they are sitting against a wall, leaning their heads on each other’s shoulders—I start to get impatient.
Forty-five minutes pass. The clouds remain solid. I begin to think longingly of the early morning activities happening at the hostel—fresh, hot coffee brewing, pancake batter sizzling, young, beautiful and bleary-eyed people waking up and smiling coyly at each other.
I snap a few photos of the unremarkable view, and get back in the car. As I pull out of the parking lot, I take one last look at the wall of clouds. My thoughts wander to a good friend who loves the outdoors. What would he do? I know exactly what he would do. He would stay here—just in case.
As I pull back into the same parking spot, the tiniest sliver of pink pokes through the mass of gray.
Twenty minutes later, I take the above photo. It is one of the best sunrise images I have ever captured, and I almost didn’t get it.
I spend the rest of the day contemplating the value of patience. I think of my dear friend Sage and one of her favorite mantras: "practice, and all is coming." I adapt it slightly. "patience, and all is coming."