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Day 4 : London to Granada


So. Flights. And trauma. And Iberian Air.

We're up at dawn, out by 7, huff it through London, take the 1 hour tube to the airport, plane is late by 30m. No problem, no problem, everything is fine. I'm reminded that quite a few Mediterranean countries take a rather flexible view on time. This from a friend who's past life included having an intimate knowledge of British Airways lounges, and who likely has more than one briefcase, and perhaps a patented leather treatment for his shoes. Not quite a gadabout and maybe not a jet-setter but someone who has seen a bit of world. If only a bit of the world within a certain tax bracket.

Annyyways. Thirty minutes late. We get on the plane, it takes off with a really new and exciting/terrifying sideways jag movement (that it repeats on landing in Madrid). This is neither here nor there but maybe a bit of foreshadowing. We have ONE hour to get to the next plane, no problem.

We do some quick, very quick walking towards our gate. We got this. Up some stairs, up some more stairs, down an escalator. We pass a sign that says our gate area is 21 minutes away. MINUTES? Then our hearts sink low enough to beat a pitter patter on the lovely polished Madrid airport floor: we have to take a train. A train, to a gate.

No problem! We get in, and it's.. it's not a short trip, there is a reason they built an automated vehicular transport solution for this leg of the trip. Out the doors, now we are at a good saunter. A saunter that nobody in their right mind would ever do for enjoyment.

Up some more stairs, down a hallway.

Security check.

That's right, bags out, toiletries out, electronics out, coats off. But all that said to us VERY quickly, in Spanish. There are multiple clumps squeezing through, trying to get all our travel things in appropriate bins. Time is running out. There is no queue, there is just an amorphous mass that eventually does some sort of zipper resolution near the end for politeness sake.

Unpack unpack, get swept by any number of devices, repack repack, ok let's go. Except my son's bin get's flagged for closer inspection. Behind maybe 4 other bins. We eventually get to it, only to have the man scan it again, sigh, speak slowly at first about something that seems entirely unrelated to the fellow besides him, then louder and quicker across the hall and we are moved over to ANOTHER scanner, this one more heavy duty, manned by a youthful looking guard, the sort who's probably put in front of THIS machine because he's good with computers (he fixes the printer jam ONE time). He does a quick scan, gives us the bored 'I have no idea why they even flagged you this is clearly fine just get on with your day and the printer better not jam today before my shift is out' wave on, and we are out!

We have sent my wife and daughter ahead. Maybe they can stop the plane like any romantic movie made before the year 2001.

Now we are running, full on running. My son is about twenty feet tall and wispy and angular and gravity has no effect on him so I'm just hoofing as fast as I can go without making it a REALLY interesting day for the airport first aid staff. We get there, near there, the zone is K. No worries.

We make it to K. The gate is 96. The gate we are at is 52. Oh dear.

More running, more sweating and worrying if my heartrate is 'a healthy aerobic rate' or the rate that precedes a 'and then a got a sharp shooting pain in my left arm, doc'. We get flagged on the way there (gate 88, I think). It's the other half of the family. The plane is gone. Completely on time. 

So.. We wait, we get a voucher* for some dinner (quite humane), and four tickets for the next flight 3 hours away. Dinner done. We make our way back, early, very early, for the make up flight. Halfway there Michelle notices on her boarding ticket it says 'Stand-by'. Now our nephew has regaled us with story after story of the utterly torturous tribulations he's had to endure on standby all in the name of saving a few bucks. He's in his twenties, invincible, carefree, time has no meaning to him, it's fine. We got Vacation Days. And Time to Get Back To Work. And.. well, the word 'stand by' sends us into panic mode.. 

We rush to the ticket booth again. The lady there says 'yes nothing I can do about that', and 'you think you are the only one?'. I generously intrepret this as her being pre-emptively rude so the outrage from customers would not phase her. But there has to be SOME soft touch when a mother is complaining that she'd rather not be separated from her family. It was a grating experience that sent us RIGHT to the edge of ... places folks on vacation should not be.

So we line up even earlier at the gate. We wait. We are tense. I state that I'll stay behind if the standby ticket doesn't get seated and now my joke about The Terminal a few posts back isn't SO funny. A man arrives. He has a harried, tired look but also one who maybe knows the system well. Knows the system well and has had Quite Enough. Of what? Who knows. But he isn't having any more of that thank you very much.

He sits and gets all settled. As Canadian manners (or american manners? general manners?) dictates, we don't even approach the desk, we wait for him to get on with what he has to get on with and then eventually make eye contact wth us and beckon us over. We in no way want to do anything that'll jeopardize our very small request of abandoning me in the Madrid airport rather than Michelle (who organizes all the trips, and, let's face it, gets the most out of it).

We wait. Oh, he has a rather lot of things to sort out. Well and good.

And wait.

And then my nerves are pretty much shot, we are hour 12 of our travels since taking the tube and I'm still gross and sweat stained from the failed run and what's in Granada anyways, wait is that in Catalonia, etc etc. I'm spiraling, but, for me, spiraling is the first step for me to actually DO anything. Usually I'm quite relaxed and laid back and chill to the point of comatose. 

So I get us to step forward. Stand in front of the desk, BEFORE he makes eye contact and beckons us. I have visions of Politeness Police careening around a corner and dive tackling us for such an infraction. The man, by pure happenstance, looks up, takes a second and leans forward as if to say "I had no idea there was a lineup of 25 people in front of me but sure I'll help". He does not say this. He just.. emotes it. I worry about giving him anymore of that thing he's Quite Enough of, but Michelle explains our conundrum quite well. Could our massive inconvenience be perhaps transferred to this sad sap with the Skyrim t-shirt on, she asks him.

He nods, takes the ticket, and whirrs away on the computer, checkin this screen, perhaps consulting a slide ruler, I'm not sure there is quite a bit of work there. But.. no explanation, no words.

He hands back the ticket, circles where he's placed Michelle in an actual seat, and with a sigh that says 'this is a very obvious solution if anyone here bothered to read the sub manual on the VTec 2001 and the lateral data migration plan we've had since we moved off of Zybase, but clearly nobody has so I have to make this very simple fix again.'. He is the young man manning the Too Large scanner in 30 years.

Elation, relief, and whatever that feeling is when you almost get in a car crash but narrowly miss and now have to park on the side of the road and wait for you fight or flight response to get settled.

It looks like we are jet setting in a private
jet but really this is just a very small jet.

We make it to Grenada, and while I'm fidgeting with my phone trying to get Uber to work a very sensible taxi driver informs me that taxis are slightly cheaper and he's right here. Morally I have a problem with rideshares, so I gladly accept. As he's driving us to our hotel, we make a pretty good job of small talk. 

Somehow it comes about that he likes to travel and loves traveling to the Phillippines, has been to many parts of it (in truth has likely seen far more than we have). We have a great time of it. Talking about all the places he's been, both of us feeling slightly ashamed we only have a glimmer of a shadow of recognition avout anything he's talking about. 

But it was nice dovetail to our journey (see last post). To end with a Spaniard who knows and appreciates the Philippines, and us (yes, extremely westernized) (mostly)) Filipinos with a few days ahead of getting to know and appreciate Spain.

And not a single connecting flight in sight.

* Now I don't know if the man who gave us the voucher is uninformed, or likes to give us a.. expansive description of the food voucher "You can get a dinner anywhere in the airport, four vouchers". 

It ends up being for this one food court, actually, one food stall in this food court, actually, 3 very strict options within this one food court's particular food stall. This was revealed to us over many encounters with shopkeepers, each one getting closer to what was allowed, each one a little more awkward.


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