In my head; setting off on a two-day jaunt to Spain to pick up a bicycle from a stranger, to then cycle 87km to the airport in time for my flight, whilst relying entirely on my adventurous spirit to get me through, sounded like the perfect plan.
Naturally the night before predictable worries set in and I questioned my sanity and allowed my head to fill with negativity;
I don’t know the city.
I can’t speak Spanish.
What if my phone doesn’t work?
What if I get a puncture and the bike doesn’t have a repair kit?
What if my legs fall off at the 40km stage?
What if this lady I am meeting isn’t really a lady but a big burly man who is setting out to kill me?
I definitely don’t have enough money.
…I don’t think I want to do this any more.
Swallowing hard on my negative thoughts, I got on the plane.
I might have been right about a few things but life has a funny way of always working out…
For example, I may not have known the city but the ever-so-kind bus driver took me on a 45 minute tour at the cost of 3 euros to introduce me properly. Well okay, I’ll be honest – my Spanish was so good when asking to go to the train station, that he didn’t let me know when we had arrived there. (It was only when we started back towards the airport that I had to sneak off quietly angry and walk the 2 miles back into town).
As for the phone; it didn’t work. Which, for 7 hours of wandering around, brought with it absolute bliss. But then at 5pm when it was time to meet Marilena and it soon became apparent I had the wrong address, I was in a bit of a pickle. Having a genius lightbulb moment I headed for the tourist info – surely they would let a poor English (lost) girl use their phone.
“No, this is for work use only. But you can try over there”.
Smiling sweetly at the lady, land-line gleaming in my periphery, she very slowly (and somewhat patronisingly) shakes her head.
A long story short: American guy let’s me use phone; I forget the name of the cafe on route. Woman in street stares me down as I attempt sign language for using her phone. She offers me money instead. I walk away. She then catches me up with English speaking daughter in car, calls Marilena, gives me a lift and saves the day!!
As for being wrong? For this trip I can happily admit to being it several times.
For one thing, Marilena was not only not a big burly man, but the nicest, happiest Spanish lady I have ever met. Even after being almost 2 hours late, she spent time talking with me, ensured the bike was good to go and handed over the keys so that I could stay the night in the flat, alone.
Not only that but she did be a big favour in terms of money. I was worried 50 euros might be a struggle for 2 days eating, especially with all of the amateur cycling. After tickling my taste buds with talk of amazing tapas bars in the area, I headed out to indulge in the Spanish culture. But Marilena must have secretly known about my worry – a big iron gate had secured the steps to the street and it appeared neither of my keys fit the lock.
As I sat munching my tiny box of dry Crunchy Nut, I closed my eyes and dreamt of vino tinto and paella.
I can also confirm that I did not lose my legs at kilometre number 40. In fact, I made it all the way to the aiport without a single glitch. Sure I had perfect conditions; 25 degree sunshine, flat roads and stunning scenery – but I couldn’t help thinking the entire way just how easy it is to get on a bike and ride.
The moral of this microadventure of mine?
Too easily can you talk yourself out of a situation because it is scary. But the idea of an adventure derives from somewhere and this should be focused on. I set off to Spain to pick up a bike that I will soon cycle around Iceland. I also wanted to test the water and see if I could handle going it alone, riding for hours at a time and to see if I actually enjoyed cycle touring in the flesh (I really really did!)
Yes there were glitches and yes at times I panicked but in the end it all worked out. Besides, it’s the ‘glitches’ that make it an adventure and without them I wouldn’t be sat writing this short story for your entertainment 🙂