I made it!
[written yesterday evening]
I’m sitting on the train and it’s a miracle. I still can’t believe I’m here.
This is what happened…
This afternoon Nog had a class until 7.30 (our train was leaving at 8.10) and the plan was that he’d go directly to the train station from there and I’d get a taxi and meet him there with the luggage. Fine.
I started calling a taxi around 7.15 and found it odd that the line was busy … put it down to a hectic long weekend Friday afternoon and decided to try my luck at the taxi stand at the end of my street. There are usually several taxis waiting there. So after saying goodbye to Azar about twenty times and lugging the two enormous bags and my laptop downstairs (I was going to ask the German guys next door to help me but they had gone out) it was getting on to 7.30. But I wasn’t worried because it normally only takes about 10 minutes to get to the train station by car. But weird! There were no taxis at the end of the street. So I tried calling the taxi company again and finally got through … and was told that THERE WERE NO TAXIS. They were on strike!!! I mean, holy fuck. There I was standing in the square with two massive bags and all the train tickets and with no way to get to the bloody train station. Because even if I could have made it over to the nearest bus stop there was no way I would have arrived at the station in time. So I called Flor to see if by chance she was home and could quickly come and get me, but it was logistically not going to work, even if we could meet somewhere part way … but Flor told me that there are lots of taxistas who work outside the union and I would probably find some on the ronda (ring road). Gaaah. What could I do? I decided to head towards the ronda rather than try the taxi stand in front of the Irish pub, which meant heading back down my street.
I was so desperate that I considered flagging down passing motorists and beg them to take me to the train station … and then I saw a neighbour getting out of her parked car in front of my house. Well, she’s a shop owner neighbour. I’ve said hello to her almost every morning for the past sixteen years but never knew her name … and suddenly I blurted out – “where are you going???”. She looked a bit surprised and said “what do you mean where am I going?” and I quickly explained my plight and said that if I didn’t get to the train station that everyone would miss the train and the whole weekend would be lost and asked if she could please please please take me there. There was just the slightest hesitation as my neighbour eyeballed me and my luggage and then she opened the car door and said – “get in!” Bless her.
Turned out that Isabel (me – “hey, I don’t even know your name!”) had been on her way home after work. She had just got into her car when a friend called her and said it had taken him more than an hour to get home – on a motorbike! – because the traffic was so bad, and so she decided to wait awhile and go have a drink with a friend instead. And that’s when I came along.
Well, her friend with the motorbike had not been wrong about the traffic. It seriously looked like even after Isabel’s generosity that we weren’t going to make it after all as we were totally stuck in a bottle neck about half-way to the station. But after inching along for what felt like an eternity (I was too nervous to check the time) we finally broke free and turned off into a less busy street … and got to the station just before 8 o’clock. I still had my heart in my throat and didn’t know what to say, so after getting the bags out of the car I turned to Isabel, flung my arms around her and told her that I simply could not thank her enough. Because … I mean, how could I? I still couldn’t even believe I was at the station. And then I felt bad because of course Isabel still had to battle her way through the horrible traffic … I don’t know if she decided to go home at that point or make her way back to see her friend.
As soon as she drove off Nog ran up behind me – apparently the traffic from his direction hadn’t been too bad and it only took him about 15 minutes to get there by bus. But we didn’t see Jessica anywhere, so when we got inside the station I called her. She had also taken a bus but hadn’t been as lucky as Nog. After being stuck in traffic for ages she got off and grabbed a rental bike … she was pedalling away when I called. So I kept it short, told her we’d get on the train and wait for her. Less than ten minutes later the train pulled out of the station and there was no sign of Jessica … I called her again and she said she’d just missed it by a hair and was in a queue trying to buy a ticket for tomorrow morning. Well dammit. But okay, at least she is still coming.
And I am sitting here on the train writing this on my laptop and still cannot believe I’m here. I mean, what were the odds? Seriously.
[It's now 1.30 in the morning...Nog & I have been out for a late snack and are totally zonked. But it was great coming back here to the apartment, getting things set up (and yes, the iPhone is working just fine as a dongle), feeling so at home. I can't believe I almost didn't make it! Amazing.]