Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sollér to Madrid

I left my friends outside the house in Sollér as I was taken away by a Romanian cab driver toward the gate and off into the world again. The cabbie and I tried to have a conversation as best we could, but I learned that in Spanish, my mind is a bit like a slot machine. It spins and spins for a while and might spit out a decent sentence on occasion, but often you get cherries and oranges and the need to insert more cash and spin again. Either way, before I got too tired, I told him that I was seeking the "punto de embarcation de la linea feria Trasmeditteraneo" and he asked me if I wanted terminal 2 or 3. As I wasn't sure, I told him so and he promptly took me to the airport! When I started noticing planes instead of ships, I said "ah, this is the airport!" to which he embarrassing noted that it was indeed.

So, we circled the airport for one turn and then headed across town to the ferry port. By this time, I was cutting my departure short and there was a terrible traffic jam. I finally told the guy that I had to just descend and find it on my own, because I was going to miss the boat otherwise. He agreed, but promised not to charge me extra for the trip to the sightsee the airport.

On arriving in the ferry terminal, I found I was at the wrong one and then had to drag my 3 heavy bags down to the end of the row of buildings to find the right terminal. Once there, the lady behind the desk took my ticket without any appearance of interest at all, told me to go wait in "Sala 1" and that was that...or so I thought.

I waited in line in Sala 1 as we began to board. Thirty minutes later, I arrived at the security ex-ray machine and handed my ticket to the agent. This older man took one look at the ticket, screamed, "You are going to Valencia? You must run, sir, RUN to that last boat on the left about a kilometer down the pier there!"

I began remembering a story told at dinner one night in Soller where the word "local" was used to push one's way through line in New York City, but I simply shouted, "perdoname" and "urgencia" as I pushed and shoved my way through a crowd of people to get outside where I then began to walk as quickly as possible pulling a suitcase with 2 other bags in my hands. By the time I reached the ferry at the end of the line, I was sweating from every pore, and could hardly breathe.

The passport controller took my ticket and then urged me forward where a second man who had been watching me for ten minutes suddenly said to me that I wasn't allowed to bring luggage aboard and that I had to run all the way back to the ferry terminal with my bags, check my suitcase, and then run back in 15 minutes in order to catch my boat. Of course, I was freaking furious at that point. I just began running with the bags in tow and then thought, "There is no way I can do this again! I am going to freaking die right here on this sidewalk!" I took a moment to scream "SHITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT" while standing still and then found the urge to see the trip through. I finally made it back to the window where the disinterested girl was working and was screamed at by two Spanish guys who were in line in front of me, but whom I overlooked to find out where to take my bags. They were really letting me have it and I turned around to see the girl sitting there. Suddenly, I forgot the Spanish verb that they use for checking baggage, the word that implied sending by slow boat in cargo, and couldn't think of it under the pressure of trying to get back to the boat and to keep from getting in a fight with the guys behind me. Finally, the word came to me and I found out that there was another place completely where I had to check my bag.

Off I scurried to find that place. I found it rather immediately, but there was absolutely no one to be found there. At this point, I envisioned screaming the f-word so loudly that the whole din of the terminal would silence, but I finally saw a young man in a yellow vest and I screamed out "señor!" to him. He turned around and I found myself staring face to face with the same young man from whom I had begged the use of a cell phone on my arrival. I could tell he recognized me too and expected him to say "Ay! Tú!", but he didn't. Instead, God bless him again, he took my bag and checked it to which point, I took off running/walking very quickly to the boat, expecting never to see my luggage for the rest of my 3 weeks in Europe.

When I finally reached the boat, I found it was much better than the previous ferry I had taken that caused me to write a blog so scathing that I later deleted it out of shame. Now, though, I know that the ferry employees and the bad parents are the ones who should be blamed for the first trip and that I should not blame the most unruly kids I have ever been exposed to for four straight hours of non-stop chaos. I also know now that every one of the employees of that ferry line except for the kind young cell-phone owner needs to be sent to customer relations class.

This was a longer crossing, but was much more relaxed. There was a sit-down cafeteria and a piano bar with a couple of lounge lizards and even a creepy looking magician to entertain the children aboard. I was able to watch "Bringing Down the House" in Spanish and to hear Queen Latifah dubbed by the same old lady voice that seems to dub all Spanish films I have ever seen. I felt like I was watching an Almodðvar film hearing her voice!

Eventually, we reached Valencia, and I found, amazingly, my luggage had arrived before I did. The bags and I then waited outside for an hour for a cab and then went to the hotel where I checked in and left immediately for dinner. My waiter was the type that openly showed his disdain for all customers by listening to our comments and then turning around and walking off mumbling loudly and gruffly in a tongue that seemed to be his own. The food also sucked, by the way. I ate quickly and then returned to my bed.

This morning, Valencia was completely shut down due to Sunday morning. I ended up getting to the train station two hours early in an attempt to find an internet cafe, only to find nothing was open. When the train finally left, I was thrilled. Several hours later, I arrived in Madrid and checked into my hotel. Just a few blocks away was the gay quarter where I did a few interviews before enjoying a fantastic glutton's meal in an asian restaurant. Now, sated and looking forward to tomorrow, I am a happy man again. These travel days are tough, but so far, I am still with the game.



Blogger Vickie said...

Sounds like a very rough day. Hang in there. At least you didn't have the children to contend with! I'm glad you're finding some decent people in all of the confusion.

7/31/2005 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Bless your heart Ron, all that running and aggravation! Glad everything worked out ok in the end but that sounds like a whole lot of exercise!

7/31/2005 11:22:00 PM  

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