I made it to Spain! After a long, exhausting trip, I finally made it to the Malaga airport around 8:00 pm at night. But my journey wasn’t over yet. My destination was La Línea de la Concepción: the very southern tip of Spain. There wasn’t a direct bus to La Línea de la Concepción after 7:30 pm so I decided to stay overnight in an Airbnb in Marbella which was on the way to my final destination.
When I landed, my only goal was to catch the last bus to Marbella at 9:20 pm. I realized I only had an hour and twenty minutes to get off the plane, recover my bags from the carousel, and figure out how to buy a bus ticket and where to take the bus.
Let the countdown begin.
I fast-walked to the baggage carousel: forty minutes remaining. I waited and waited for the carousel to start: thirty minutes remaining. As I waited, I tried desperately to connect to the airport’s WiFi because my data wasn’t working. I needed to get in touch with my Airbnb host. I didn’t even know her address! Finally, I got the WiFi to work, and I let my host know that I was arriving soon…hopefully! The carousel spun, and my eyes scanned for my bag—nothing. And then the carousel stopped. I was sweating, realizing I could miss the last bus to Marbella. After fifteen breathless minutes, the carousel continued its rotation. I found my bags, and ran to the bus station. I ordered a ticket, got directions from a nice Spaniard of which bus to take, and I hopped on dat bus like a professional cowboy hopping on his companionable steed.
I had a nice, peaceful bus ride to Marbella. I watched the city lights of Malaga fly by my window, and gazed in wonder at the light from the moon shining on the Mediterranean as I cruised down la Costa del Sol. Then the realization hit: I left the U.S. at night, and I arrived to Spain at night after having a thirteen-hour trip; It felt like the apocalypse.
The Marbella bus station was not what I expected after hearing how Marbella was a home for rich British people; it was pretty sketchy. And what do you know, I did not have WiFi. I assumed every bus station in Spain would have WiFi; it’s 2018 after all! But no. And I have no clue where the Airbnb lady lived! I tried to put her address in my GPS beforehand, but the wrong address popped up on both my Google map and Apple map. I knew it was wrong because that address took me somewhere far away in the middle of a mountain, and I knew she was walking distance to the bus station.
The lady had given me her address over the Airbnb app, but I had no clue how to read it—nor did my maps. But I knew her street name, and I knew how to find it, so I formulated my survival plan. My plan was to walk towards that street without WiFi, without data, without technology—the old fashion way. But first, I needed to let my host know. Luckily, I found a tiny corner with a WiFi sign. I got as close as I could to that corner and was successful in connecting. I told the lady I was going to start walking to her street and that it would take me ten minutes. I told her, please, please, please keep an eye out for me because I have no clue where I’m going.
Realizing the chance of possibly sleeping on the streets that night with the local hobos, I picked up my bags, walked past the homeless people, and began my walk. I was wearing a t-shirt, flannel jacket, and a winter jacket. I was also wearing jeans and boots. I probably lost ten pounds of water weight on that walk. It was extremely hot outside, and the walk was all uphill! Not to forget the damn sidewalks that were made for people as thin as paper; I struggled to keep both my suitcases on the sidewalk. So I walked in the street, getting honked and cursed at.
Once I conquered the hill and found the correct street, I began to look at the gate numbers listed on the nice houses around me, trying to connect it with the address the lady had given me. The numbers made no sense. I couldn’t make a connection with the lady’s address.
So I walked, and I asked strangers for directions. But no one could give me an answer. Finally, after almost giving up and accepting my fate of sleeping with the hobos, the girl had found me. I switched to calling her a girl because at first I thought this was an old lady when I was messaging her. But when I met her in person, this girl could have been younger than me!
She leaned in for her two kisses. I will never get used to this part of the Spanish culture. Caught off guard, I smashed my two sweaty cheeks into hers. This pour girl. She didn’t know any English, and I was not in the mood to practice my Spanish. So I just followed her into her home, dripping sweat over this pour girl’s beautiful flat. I went straight for the shower—the best shower of my life. After the shower I realized I was starving, but it was late and my phone wasn’t working. There was no way I was chancing getting lost in Marbella. I dug into the last of Mamma Johns’ supply. If she didn’t pack that food for me, I have no clue what I would have done. I had no time to eat on this trip. I would have gone almost twenty-seven hours without food! Thanks Mom!
I ate the last of the available nuts and went downstairs to work on my computer, trying to figure out and plan my next day. My host and her boyfriend were upstairs as I worked in peace, trying to figure out what day it was, trying to comprehend where I was, trying to understand what just happened.
It was Wednesday, September 12th 2018. And I was officially in Spain.
As I was working, I heard something come through the door. But I saw nothing. I thought maybe it was a dog. All of a sudden I felt something itching my toes. I jumped, and looked down to find an unknown specimen at my feet. I was being attacked! After taking a second to relax, I realized it was a fricken bunny! I honestly thought I was going to be eaten. This bunny had come in from the outside balcony and decided to hop around the living room. I watched in amazement as this fuzzy, big-eared bunny hopped under the couch and hopped behind the TV. It was pretty darn cute; now I kind of want one.
After deciding which bus I was going to take to La Línea de la Concepción in the morning, and after playing with the bunny, I finally went to bed. It was then I remembered Spain had no air conditioning, and I knew it was going to be a very hot, very sweaty night. But the sweatiness didn’t overcome my exhaustion; I passed out and enjoyed my first sleep in this foreign country, preparing for the finale of my wild adventure to Spain.
Happy Halloween! What’s the spookiest thing that’s happened to you while traveling abroad?