It really isn’t an NJ road trip without something ridiculous happening, as you know from what you may have already read. My drive back to Conil de la Frontera really was no exception.
It was one of those beautifully clear ‘I’m ready to go home’ days. Fi and I were well prepared, even though we were going to part ways that day. I drove the landscapes I’d carved through before, but this time there was no rain in sight. There was however still as much to think about on a seven plus hour journey, but it was enjoyable all the same. The countryside didn’t disappoint.
Cruising along near Seville and the temperature was climbing well into the late thirties. Having had a piss poor sleep the night before, I’d managed a couple of random petrol cum Coca Cola cum lollies cum get some chocolate in my mouth before it melts, stops. Each time I opened the car door the heat would wrap its arms around and hug me, until I choked a little. I loved it. After a vending machine raid accompanied with old men staring, I was tired but wired on caffeine.
With an hour to go, Fi had had enough. She started to protest the final leg of the trip by the revs not ticking over and slowing down on the busy motorway. Thankfully there was an exit near and I pulled over outside a gated entrance on the outskirts of Jerez.
I tried to reassure Fi and tell her that everything was ok, but I didn’t trust her state of mind or the light that she was flashing. A security office had left his booth to come and ask me in Espanol, what was wrong. His English didn’t extend that much beyond ‘hello’.
It’s in these kind of situations that you dig deep and really find out what you are in fact capable of and that you are an awesomely kick arse being at the same time.
I had my hire car papers with me and together we managed to call the company. His phone was handed back and forth as we both said the same things in English and Spanish. Each operator palmed the job over to another operator until finally a tow truck was ordered and would be there in half an hour.
In the meantime Security showed me what was behind the gates. In one large shed he opened the door to a fabric warehouse and water cooler, which we both lapped up. Behind the next shed door was a bodega with massive casks of Jerez’s finest brandies and sherry.
In his little security room, he offered me his cushioned swivel seat and pointed the old metal fan in my direction. Pulling a container from his desk, he showed me a box of hamburger shaped gum and nodded his head. I pulled one out, admired the candy and popped it in my mouth.
With not much to talk about, Security showed me the shipping records of where the liquor went. I wowed in the right places at how far it was traveling, to intoxicate people in Japan. I pointed to picture of a young girl. This was his only daughter, who apparently was enough. He shook his head at the dismay the handful she had become.
At a lull in the conversation, he told me his name, Diego. Then I thought he was asking how old I was, but he was just trying to find out my name. It was a five minute affair in the art of lost in translation.
By the time the towie had turned up, we had become great amigos. He’d given me a pamphlet for a local liquor tasting room and to mention his name when I went. He also left his number in case I needed anymore help.
The towie spoke no more Inglese than Diego, but I think I managed to tell him what had happened. I took out my bags and signed a form to release Fi into the care of another. The taxi showed up not long after and took me to another hire car depot, in a hotel.
There were two gentlemen on the desk that appeared to speak fluent English. I realised that this wasn’t the case when they couldn’t comprehend why I had no keys. I slowly explained that I didn’t have them, but the tow truck driver did. That Fi’s replacement was booked recently for me to drive back.
“Ok. Can I have the keys?”
This jig lasted a few minutes, until I showed them the tow truck receipt. They hurried around and sorted The Replacement.
“Can I call my friend? She is waiting for me. I am late. I can’t call on my New Zealand phone.” I said pointing to the phone.
They nodded and carried on.
That jig lasted a few repetitions, until I got handed the phone.
Finally, I was back on the road in The Replacement. It was a bittersweet drive back as I longed to be with Fi. I marvelled at my personal endeavour of not freaking out, at staying calm and embracing the situation.
Back at the depot, I relayed my situation, my ordeal of nearly conking out in the middle of a motorway. The woman looked at me, eyes slowly blinking and pupils registered somewhere beyond my shoulder. She didn’t seem to give a sh*t. They wouldn’t let me sign to close my account, until they’d found out what was wrong with the car. They promised to call, but never did.
At the end of the day I was thankful to safely be back at home with my Spanish sister, at the wee slice of heaven on the southern coast. Keep posted for my exit out of Spain via some of the awesomest places that I’ve ever been. Until then, x