Santander Travel Blog› entry 1 of 3 › view all entries
August 15th, 2007 – by: peace4everybody
During the half an hour drive to the Bilbao bus station, we attempted communication while I tried to speak slowly, as did he, yet to loudly, as most Americans do when speaking to foreigners. The last thing I wanted was to appear American. His assumption was way off, guessing that my nationality was of the British kind, which actually flattered me quite a bit.
Finally, we made it to the bus station and I thanked him profusely, he wishing me a safe time in my travels. With a wave and a smile, I was again on my own.
I looked around me. I ran through my sister's insturctions again and again, but here I found myself lost and confused. All around me were people sitting in various metal benches between large, cement poles, and all about me was the constant milling of people and the constant murmur of Spanish/ Basque.
The next task, phoning my sister. She had requested that I call her cell phone when I arrived in the station at Bilbao so that her family could coordinate a pick up at the station in Santander and bring me back to their pad. Approaching the phones, I looked all around the sides of the phone booth and realized that all the instruction were in Spanish only, rendering them useless to me. I briefly looked them over trying to glean some kind of meaning from the bizarre combinations of letters, but got nothing past pick up the handset, and put in money. Putting my tired mind to use, I decided to watch how it was done by someone else. The next in line was an old nun. I attempted to look over her shoulder while also trying not to seem like some kind of curious psychopath, but I failed miserably as told by her backwards glances at me. Not to be discouraged while I was so close, I tried to approach her about the how in working this confusing mechanism, she waved me away in French and continued on her way.
A bit discouraged, I tried again with a lady who had just finished on the other phone. I stopped her with a "pardon" and, pointing to the phone booth, asked "como"? Beginning to speak quickly, I waited until she was done and stated, "no hablo espanol mui bien". Sighing she said clearly and slowly, "numero?" I showed her my sister's number. She looked at it and stated "euros" and I took out my purse. Holding it open, she rifled through and selected three coins and inserted them into the machine. Then, dialing my sister's number, handed me the phone. It didn't work. "No," I tried. She selected another coin and tried the number again. This time, I heard the familiar voice of my sister on the other end. I grinned and offered, "gracias". She shrugged and moved on.
After the phone call, I was left to figure out where my bus was to be leaving from. I found the platform, but it was surrounded by sketchy middle-aged men who were eyeing my knee-length skirt with great interest. I decided to chill out somewhere a bit more public for the time being. While waiting, I finally saw. Children playing with their parents watching and laughing, old women and men traveling together, holding hands, young people laughing and joking, people sleeping on one another's shoulders, people looking to one another's eyes. These images calmed me. So I didn't know the language, but I knew the people here. What a comforting thought.
As I arrived in Santander, I was greated by my familiar sister, whom I hugged relentlessly until she told me that we had to buy our tickets for Barcelona now before they were sold out or overly expensive. She kidnapped me to a car already full with two, boisterous sisters speaking quickly, and interjecting their speech with English words so that I could at least understand the jest of the conversation.
Parting ways at the house, I entered to meet my sister's host mother.
I bit nervous, not wanting to offend, we entered the house and were greeted with a warm, understanding woman who not only knew what kind of condition I was in after having traveled so long, but also what kind of condition Alyssa was in from the night before. Thankfully, C'lotta spoke French very well and we were able to communicate easily with one another. She offered me soup, bread, and langoustines, and then sent me off to bed, which was a relief to me. A busy arrival, but a happy one, I fell asleep in a warm bed, hugging a giant, stuffed banana.
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