Friday, January 16, 2009

South of Spain: Finding Out You're Traveling Alone

Part 1 of 2: There are several things people say that you must do by yourself before settling down in life. Two near the top of the list are living and traveling on your own. I had always wondered what it would be like to do the latter. How safe would it be? Who would I meet? Would my father even let me go? :) I used to read romance novels that talked about the independent woman needing no one except her journal on her travels. I used to read about the affairs she would have with a man that she met on her travels. My traveling alone story, however, is a little different then those...

I first met "Debbie" and "Bobby" while I was with my ex on a cruise to Hawaii. Debbie and Bobby lived in London had been together for many years, but never married. I found it fascinating that they went against societal norms by not marrying. When I met them, Debbie and I seemed to connect right away. She reminded me of my English family. She was cheeky, funny, sarcastic and full of life. After several days of our cruise friendship, she confessed to me that she had lost her mother at my age and I told her I had lost my mother as well. From there we felt like we were kindred spirits. After the cruise, I returned to Los Angeles and Debbie and I became pen pals. For years we exchanged letters and emails between Los Angeles and London. We sent each other birthday gifts and I was so excited when she told me she was pregnant. I also went once to London and spent New Year's with them.

When I broke up with my ex, I was pretty devastated. Debbie started encouraging me to come to Spain to stay with them. Bobby had a condo in the South of Spain. For a long time I thanked her, but I refused her offer. She would say "Come over and stay with us. We'll help you get over him," and other encourgements like "You won't need to pay for lodging," and "It will be really good for you to get away." A year after Debbie had her daughter, I decided that I would come and visit. This was a huge step for me. Traveling all the way to Spain by myself. "When would I get a chance like this again?" I asked myself.

I decided to travel first to London to catch up with a friend. I then flew to Luton airport in Marbella, Spain. (As I was on my way to Spain, this might be a good time to mention that I took French in school and didn't speak Spanish at all. I had to pick it up very quickly). I should have known that something was wrong when I landed in Spain and neither Debbie nor Bobby were at the airport to pick me up. Did I get that the day wrong?

A few kind locals directed me to the bus depot and helped me get my bearings. I got pretty lost with my limited Spanish trying to maneuver the bus system. I remember needing to take three buses and one of those buses also had caged chickens traveling in the seats with the passengers. Finally after days of traveling from Los Angeles to London and then to Spain, I got to a hotel near Elviria and I called Bobby's cell phone. " Oh Laura, sorry we couldn't pick you up. We're at the beach. Are you near?" I couldn't believe it. They didn't leave the beach to come and pick me up from the airport. "Did I miss something?" I asked myself.

Bobby came and met me at the hotel. He took me to see Debbie who was sitting on the beach near the hotel with their daughter. I had traveled half way around the world and they were sitting on the beach? When I saw her, it hit me. I knew things had changed. Debbie was no longer my bubbly friend, but seemed down/depressed and had gained a lot of weight. Not the five or ten pounds that we all gain, but a lot of weight. I hardly recognized her at first. She kept looking at me up and down and commenting about my weight. I should have known then that I was in trouble.

What would you have done if you were in my shoes? Stay tuned for final part of the story on Sunday 1/18/09...

* (I took the picture above in the early morning when I visited the markets in Mijas which is known as a white village. I loved how the light fell over the man sweeping the already clean street.)

8 comments:

cw2smom said...

Yikes! I can't wait to hear the rest of the story. I don't know what I'd do. If it were now, with my present sense of maturity..I'd probably get back to the hotel and visit once or twice before heading back home. There's something seriously wrong with people who don't have the courtesy to insure your safety when you are coming to visit them in another country! OMG I can't wait to hear what happens in this situation! Thank God you are here to tell the story! Blessings, Lisa

Stephanie said...

That's pretty inconsiderate. I understand she/they were going through things, but... someone coming to visit from halfway around the world is a pretty big deal, and I would never let someone in that position attempt to find her own way! How scary! But you did an excellent job, obviously. I never had the guts to travel somewhere by myself. I guess I still have plenty of time though. I need to get over my fears! Can't wait to read part 2. :)

Porty said...

I've reached a point in my life where if I didn't travel alone I'd never go anywhere ;). But I quite enjoy it. In fact, I recently returned from a two-week west coast stint thinking I don't know if I'll be to handle a travel partner anymore. I don't know what I'll do if I ever get a girlfriend again. As for your friends, sounds like something ominous is in store, so I'll hold off any thoughts on what I'd have done. Sounds interesting though.

Georgie B said...

I would have gone back to the hotel, give it some serious thought for a while, then spend the rest of the trip making minimal contact with the people who invited me out there.

Definitely sounded like they were a few bricks shy of a full load.

Natalie said...

Uh oh...

I can't even imagine what I would've done...


I'm hoping it turned out to be a good trip for you, though!

Charli said...

Hi Laura. Nice photo!

Your post brings me back.

I spent a winter and Spring living in Madrid by myself. Well, I actually lived with an old Spanish woman, but I was more or less on my own.

It was wonderful. Spain is the home of my heart. Thank you for summoning such sweet memories for me.

Le laquet said...

Ummm ....

I believe that I would have made the most of a bad situation - which I am sure you did.

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