Why do I always get lost?

I love going for walks in the beautiful countryside around Mirabel-aux-Baronnies, and for that purpose I have a couple of guide books with itineraries, easy and difficult, short and long. The descriptions are rather detailed, with little maps and instructions telling you where to turn left and right, for instance “keep left and pass in front of the large cypress”, or “take the small path on the right and pass behind the abandoned barn”, or “pass below the medieval tower on your right”.

Although I do my utmost to follow the instructions to the letter, I almost always get lost somewhere along the line and find myself on a small winding path going uphill instead of a straight road going downhill. Not that it matters so much, I normally find my way back, but sometimes it shortens the walk, to my great irritation, and sometimes it makes it rather longer. Usually this is no problem either, provided it isn’t a hot day in the summer and I’m running out of water.

A couple of weeks ago I nearly managed though! I just took the wrong path at the very beginning and thus I found myself in front of the abandoned barn instead of behind it. This was easily remedied (although the right path was so overgrown that it was hardly visible), and I continued the walk without any further mishaps. And just a few days later I managed a whole circuit without getting lost in the slightest until the very end where again the path I should have taken wasn’t visible. I think that is a fairly good excuse for not noticing it. But overgrown paths are usually not why I get lost.

When I stroll around inhabited areas I hardly ever lose my way – I think I have a fairly good sense of orientation. So what is it then that makes me take the wrong turn so often in nature? I believe it is … nature!

The landscape, the views, the vineyards, the light – all these catch my attention to a much higher degree than the dry and factual descriptions in the guide books, especially if I walk with my camera, which is often the case.

Also in my defence I must add that it may happen that the indicated cypress just isn’t there anymore, perhaps due to a fierce autumn storm, or it may be that the abandoned barn has been restored and turned into an inhabited house and is no longer recognisable as a barn, or it may have been torn down. Sometimes it really is the guidebook and not me.

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