When I last wrote, I was one terrible night’s sleep away from escaping el Hotel Peninsular, right off of La Rambla, in Barcelona. Well, the next morning, Chuck and I took the fast train to Zaragoza, to visit with my cousins María Jesús and María Asunsión Visauta. María Jesús met us at the train station that afternoon to take us to her place, and then after a filling lunch and a nap, we had dinner at María Asun’s and her husband José Luís’ place. I know my Spanish is improving, because I understood their jokes so much better than I did five years ago.
But now the rest of the trip is becoming a blur, because I’ve already been on one run already around Phoenix Lake, back in Marin County. We’ve been back to Peet’s, a Bay Area chain mecca.
Just the other night, Chuck and I were sitting at the Chocolatería San Ginés, eating some chocolate con churros in outside seating in a small alley way, wondering out loud about what could only be either drama club members or groupies of some sort (there is always such a fine line). They were an animated group, in sparkling clothes. Some in cowboy hats.
Feeling brave, I asked them (in Spanish, of course) what was going on.
They were waiting to meet the band Los Tigres del Norte, a “Tex Mex” band from upstate México, who had been playing in the theater next door. They sing about sneaking narcotics across the border, said our new friend, the one person who took the time to answer questions for our interview.
Let’s roll Contrabando y Traición now.
I’ll need more time to decide if this music is my cup of tea. But where was I? Right. That’s my problem. I don’t remember where I was.
A day ago, I was crying that we were leaving Spain so soon. María Jesús gave Chuck and me a tour of La Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar and El Catedral de la Seo, and I do recall feeling, for at least while I was in both of these buildings, that I understood God’s message. Since then, the message has faded. Dammit. I was so close. I even for a minute here tried to relay the message, and it’s slipped from my fingers. I can’t stand it when this happens, because every once in awhile, not just this time, I come up with it, and I get very excited, because it’s the type of thing that would make most people say, “Oh. Duh.”
Well, sorry about that, I don’t know the message, so you’ll just have to carry on.
The only problem with leaving María Jesús’s place on Thursday, particularly after a day of seeing these beautiful, ornate buildings, is that it meant that Chuck and I didn’t think that much about getting a train ticket in advance to Madrid, to make our 10am flight. Nor did we think much about getting a hotel room.
No, wait, scratch that. I believe that we both had individually thought about it, but never thought to voice the belief that we should probably do something about it, and this is how we ended up on a 3.5 hour regional train ride back to Madrid, when, had we only thought about it maybe the day before, we could have been on the bullet train.
Being the optimists as we are, we opted to view this elongated ride home as an opportunity to see the Spanish country side.
The only drawback to being this type of optimist is when you neglect to even thumb through the guidebook on the train to find a hotel in Madrid, preferably something near the airport, to minimize the pain in the morning, as our regular waking hour the past two weeks had been 9am, and now we had a 10am flight.
So after maybe an hour of walking back and forth around the Chamartin train station in Madrid, not sure what we should do next, Chuck and I thought it would make the most sense to just to back to the hotel where we had stayed the first time, the Hotel Plaza Mayor, and then only freak out if it might happen to be that there was no vacancy.
There was no vacancy at the Hotel Plaza Mayor at 10pm that night.
And so that is basically when we had our first official freak out of the trip, but heavily modulated, because we are professionals.
Oh, where to go with this story. Should I tell you what we did next? I need to sleep on this, not because it’s a good story, but because I am still so under the influence of jet lag, I have lost my train of thought.