September 16th, 2007 – by: bede17
Christine and me eating cake in NYC
Ok, well here I am on the start of another trip. I had a nice time at home in between ActionQuest and here, and I got to see lots of people. First I spent a few days at rescue in Vermont (and saw Steve and Jess!), and then a night in NYC where I saw Steph, Jo, and Christine, and then a couple days in Providence with my three week old twin nephews. It was tiring, but a lot of fun. Last week I flew from Boston to Barcelona via London, which was sort of a pain mainly due to the annoying regulations in British airports.
Even if you are in transit from another flight you still have to go through security again, and they make you take all sorts of busses and escalators and elevators and stand in all sorts of lines. Arriving in Barcelona was the easy part- the guy at immigrations barely glanced at my passport and stamped me through with no questions, and my bags came pretty quickly. They were rather heavy though, and getting them on and off the two trains I had to take to the boat was extremely difficult by myself. Luckily some nice people helped me out every now and then. I took a lot of Spanish when I was in school a long time ago, but even then I was pretty clueless on the train. They have no posted routes, and no announcements of the stations when you arrive, and the signs are very confusing at the stations.
our provisioning van
So I just started asking people, and sort of figured out where I needed to go. I ended up making it fine, but boy was it a challenge! The boat looked great and it was really nice to see everyone again. We spent the next couple days getting ready for the program, which in my case meant preparing for shopping, shopping, and going through all the medical supplies. The shopping trip was pretty fun, but it took forrrrrever because the store was laid out pretty poorly and we had to go the entire length of it to get more carts or go to bathroom because there was only one entrance. The day our shipmates arrived Kate and I took a 7am train to the Barcelona airport and waited outside the arrivals area for all of the shipmates that were flying in.
Unfortunately the two terminals were about a ten minute walk apart through chaotic check-ins and people poorly driving unwieldy carts with lots of luggage, and each flight we met alternated arrival areas, so we barely sat down the whole day. But there were a lot of dogs! Our last shipmate met up with us at about 3:30 and we all went to the train station to catch the train to the boat, and it was about to leave the station, so we made a break for it and ran to try to get in. Kate and I managed to squeeze in (although Kate was caught in the doors when they closed, and in case you wanted to know, they don’t reopen… they just stay stuck until someone comes and pries them apart enough to let you through), but as the train pulled away we saw our shipmate still standing on the platform with his bag. We tried to motion to him to get on the next train to the next stop, but we weren’t sure if he understood.
The trains only go every half hour, and we couldn’t get one back in time to find him, so we waited at the platform checking our watches to make sure we found the right train that was exactly a half hour later. We figured he knew to look for us, but were hoping we’d see him with enough time to tell him to stay on the train and for us to get on. So the train showed up, and we tried to ask the conductor guy if it came from the airport, because we didn’t see him in the windows. The train started beeping and the doors closed to and we figured we were screwed when we were told it was the right train, but lo and behold there was a commotion on the last car and someone was stuck in the door so the train couldn’t move. In the chaos we saw our shipmate trying to get out of the car and we quick hurried in and told him to stay, and all was solved.
Except that the reason there was a big chaos and someone was stuck in the door was that a passenger had just been robbed and he wasn’t going to let the train go anywhere before he found the culprit. So he started yelling at everyone in Spanish and the police were yelling at people and everyone was pointing fingers at everyone and the police grabbed the purse of the girl next to me and then literally grabbed her shoulder and shoved her onto the platform. At one point they grabbed me but I said that I had just gotten on at this stop and Kate said that we didn’t speak any Spanish, and they left us alone. But the robbed guy was really adamant that nothing was happening til he found his wallet, so everyone is looking around and then the next thing you know there is a guy being handcuffed on the platform and a wallet at his feet. Then the train left.
this bird hung out for a while
It was quite a scene!! We made it the rest of the way uneventfully and met all 24 shipmates who were now on the boat. That night everyone went out to dinner and the next morning we did some policy and paperwork meetings. Oh yeah I was the head chef so the three of us made eggs in the morning, sandwiches for lunch, and BBQ chicken for dinner. Cooking for thirty is a bit more challenging not just because of the size of the food, but figuring out the amounts because I have never provisioned for that many before. So far they seem to be eating less than our other groups! Today we had two classes in the morning and then free time ashore in the afternoon to go to the local festival that started today. Kate, Mike and I walked to the square to see the human tower practice for next week’s competition.
It was a pretty impressive feat, they had at least seven or eight layers of people stacked vertically, the top most one usually being a small child. There was quite a crowd (with lots of dogs!) watching and cheering. We also walked around their version of a flea market, which has all sorts of interesting random odds and ends. Back on the boat I heard later that two of our male shipmates got recruited to be in the base of the human tower, and the people all fell! Not because of our shipmates, I’m sure they fall often enough, but how crazy a story is that to tell your friends at home? Now I’m just relaxing on the boat, getting some blogs ready to post the seamester website. We’ll be in port for another two days and then it’s off to France.
cute dog watching over the square