Adventures in Spain and why pictures can lie

I keep receiving tantalizing images on Facebook, reminding me of where I was one year ago.    This is both a blessing and a curse, as I still can’t believe that, (a) we actually did it and it wasn’t something I dreamt, and (b) omg its over.

I thought I might like another go around, so, bear with me if you want to take another ride…

The memory looked like this….

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the tranquility…..

But pictures can be deceiving…

This time last year saw us in Cartagena, Murcia, Spain.    After collecting the car in Barcelona, being assured that Spanish drivers were way more sane than Italian, hitting up an actual Supermarket, visiting a hospital and smashing a coffee table in the quaintly named town of Peniscola, staying with the Valencian equivalent of Norman Bates where an actual moose head was mounted on the wall, we found the car pointing toward the beach for a couple of days of r and r.    R & R may seem like a weird concept for people ostensibly on a year’s holiday, but – as the title says kids, it wasn’t a holiday.

One or two days at a resort-y place was called for, and we found a nice little bolt hole in Cartagena.  Located in Murcia, I think on the Costa Calida **  (much loved by the Brits) we were mightily impressed by the room, and facilities (toaster-kettle-toaster) and an actual shower with a screen instead of an over-affectionate shower curtain.   A sleep in and breakfast (I did say toaster didn’t I?) we thought we would leisurely drive around very local sights, perhaps the lighthouse and a couple of nice bays, have some lunch and then laze on the sun deck of our hotel, maybe read a book, how decadent.

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An impressive lighthouse on a rocky promontory, which involved a moderate climb, and some lovely views.  We took photos, watched the gulls and the folk in their campers parked in the carpark, assembling their dining equipment and eating breakfast in the sun.      On then to a nice little bay where a man was fishing and the sun was splintering on the water.  We lay in the sun and took a short walk along the cove, headed back to the car and on to the national park, and the beach there.  No rush, we didn’t have to be anywhere by any time, so we had the whole day ahead of us.    We pulled into the car park, found a nice park in the shade and readied ourselves for another bask in the Spanish sunshine.

The tranquility evaporated when a flurry of activity from the other side of the car was detected.  Frantic patting of pockets, urgent inspection of the abyss between the console and seats alerted me that something was, indeed amiss.  “Where are the room keys???”  Steve looked at me as if I had stolen them from his pocket.  “I don’t know, where were they?” “When did you last have them?”   Now I know you will have had this conversation yourself, possibly more than once, but it takes on a new meaning when the keys were the new-fangled security type, not just a key. And you are in Spain.  And the potential cost in Euro is …we didn’t want to think about it.    Inspections of the contents of bags, impressive yoga moves to grope under the seat were in vain.  There began to be moderate yelling and it could have been from either or both of us.  A fearsome debate took place over the definition of “lost” versus “misplaced”

Back to the lighthouse, ask the caravanners, attempt to ask the lady at the kiosk at the lighthouse where no one could understand us…one, two, three laps of the lighthouse, including an examination of the spot where Steve had “visited” the outdoor facilities,…no luck.    We went back to the first beach, where many more cars were parked, walked the beach, got down on all fours to look under the newly arrived cars, asked the guy fishing….nothing.    Back to the car, a further forensic examination of the car, removal of items in the boot…nothing.  Back to the second beach, a search of the carpark with more peering under cars….nothing.

Did we check the wall at the lighthouse where we stopped to take some photos?  Not sure, back to the lighthouse….nothing.

At some point, you need to call time.  We called time about 1 pm.  We went back to the hotel, and confessed to losing the key.  Are you absolutely sure?  the receptionist said, with a slightly hysterical note to her voice.   “My boss is coming down from Valencia this afternoon, and he will go crazy”…these are special keys, and the whole complex will need re-keying”.    Oh.  Okay.  We felt wonderful (not).

A sombre afternoon was ahead of us.

We paced, and tried to think where those damn keys may have made a break for freedom.   We decided another round of the morning’s route was as good an idea as sitting there doing nothing.

Back to the lighthouse, nothing. Okay, what to do.  Retrace our steps?

Back to the first beach…another walk up the beach to the rocks.  Another inspection of the sand and scrub.

Nothing.

Walking back to the car, I heard an utterance from Steve.  It went…

“Are you having a %^$#& laugh????”

And there they were….sitting on the domed cover of the rubbish bin leading to the car park, the work, no doubt, of some good Samaritan and all round great person, who found them, and thought…”someone will be looking for these…I’ll put them somewhere obvious”.

A potentially several hundred euro weight lifted off our shoulders. The day, by then about 4 pm, started to look up, even though we were mentally and physically exhausted.   We breezily returned the spare key to the relieved receptionist, went to the nearest bar and ate the biggest pan of paella we could find.  A  bottle or two assisted in calming frayed nerves.

New systems for key storage were implemented.

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** thank you for the proper name April.

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Is it too late to have a gap year in your late 50s? To take back some time from our day to day working life to travel - unplanned, unescorted, unfettered? To take that leap? It was a defining year - liberating, challenging, humbling, scary. It was many things, but it wasn't a holiday.

2 thoughts on “Adventures in Spain and why pictures can lie

  1. What a lovely story and so nice that someone found the keys and left them to be seen. Quite stressful though. I went to that region of Spain earlier this year. Its very nice and has s more local feel then say Costa Blanca up the coast and Costa del sol further down the coast. I think the area is called Costs Calida. It can be nice when pics of old home come up on Facebook and its great to relive old memories good or bad. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading your story.

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