Lost on a Mountain in Spain

The eighteenth installment of my abandoned Granadino memoir, Flawed Abroad: Useless editorializing from an ignorant, close-minded American on his semester overseas.

Sabado, 5 Feb. ’05, 21.15 (Saturday, February 5, 2005, 9:15 pm)

Lost on a Mountain in Spain…that’s what I was planning on calling my book, assuming I got out of the whole debacle alive, of course.[1] To bring you up to speed, our group leader Cindy had organized a day tour of one of the picturesque villages located in the mountainous Alpujarra region of southern Spain.  To my delight (and to my cigarette-loving friends’ collective chagrin), part of the tour actually consisted of a moderate hike through the mountains themselves.  After following the trail as a group for some time, Luís—already lagging behind—realized he had dropped one of his gloves somewhere along the way.  After a brief, shouted explanation, he turned around and scurried back up the trail to look for it while the rest of us pressed on.

Concerned with Luís’s ability to accomplish this task without endangering either himself or others (and if you knew Luís, you’d be equally concerned), I began dawdling in the rear of the pack, hoping he would catch up with us soon. After 15 minutes or so had passed without any sign of him, I began to get worried and gave him a call on his cell to see where he was. He told me that he’d found his glove but had no idea which path would bring him back to us.  Remembering that we’d had to navigate a partially obscured 180-degree switchback to reach our current position, I told him to stay put and began hiking back up the trail myself, cleverly neglecting to tell anyone that I was going back because a) there was nobody left in sight anyway, and b) I didn’t feel like wasting money on a phone call.

Reaching the switchback a few minutes later, I was rather perturbed to see that Luís wasn’t there.  After jogging a few hundred meters in either direction to look for him, my perturbation turned to minor anxiety and I began calling Luís’s name out loud.  When nobody responded, I tried his phone again, but the mountainous terrain made for tenuous reception at best, and I was hard pressed to decipher more than a few words at a time.  However, I caught enough to conclude that Luís was sounding just a little panicked at this point, so I told him to start walking back to the trail where he’d lost his glove and I’d find him.  It was then that I began thinking up clever book titles like the one mentioned above, on the off chance that this turned into one of those adventures where the imprudent school boy who should have just stayed put to wait for help instead tries to determine a way out of the predicament himself and, through sheer dumb luck, lives to tell the tale and is subsequently offered a movie-of-the-week deal on ABC and all the 18-year-old virgins he can stomach.

As it happened, however, it was only another five minutes or so before Luís finally stumbled over a dusty hummock about 100 meters beyond the main route, leisurely smoking a cigarette as he ambled over to where I was waiting.  I made him jog back down the correct trail in order to catch up with the rest of the group, but by the time we arrived at our scenic destination (a charming wooden footbridge traversing a gushing seasonal brook), they had already seen everything there was to see and had begun hiking back up the trail we had just busted our asses getting down.  In addition to missing most of the scenery, neither our guide nor our group leader was very pleased by our extended absence—though I still got some virgins out of the whole mess, so I guess you could say it all worked out in the end (much to their dismay, if you catch my drift).

The only other highlight of the trip—aside from all the fascinating cultural whatnot that I can’t really remember—was when the bus driver backed into a tree while turning around to go home and busted in the rear left window.  We were thus able to enjoy the luxury of an hour long bus ride while four-degree Celsius mountain air streamed in through the missing window, enveloping us in frigid remembrances of times past.  Simpler times, really.  Times when our bus had all of its windows and we didn’t freeze our faces off during the ride.

Miscellaneous Observation (subtitle: “The Movie Was Groovy, but the Seating Was Fleeting): Oh, you wacky Spaniards.  Just when I’m beginning to appreciate your quaint local customs and habits—indeed, going so far as to call them my own—you go and do something like this…and totally redeem yourself!  (Actually, you totally ream yourself; I just felt like quoting Dumb & Dumber.)

Alex C. and I attended a movie at Al Campo on Friday night, making sure to arrive with plenty of time before it started.  Upon entering the theater, we immediately began commenting to one another on how nice it was and how comfortable the seats were.  It was, indeed, a superior viewing area.  One strange thing I noticed though was that the seats were numbered for some reason—and not consecutively, either.  All the seats to the left of the aisle were odd, and all the seats to the right of the aisle (where we were seated) were even.  I remarked on this phenomenon to Alex, but quickly forgot about it as the lights dimmed to indicate the start of the movie.

At that moment, an usher walked up to us and briskly asked to see our tickets.  Trailing behind him were three timid-looking Granadinos who I’d seen entering into the theater moments earlier, only to leave again after a few seconds.  Upon seeing our stubs, the usher shook his head condescendingly and informed us that we would have to move.  I was on the verge of presenting him with a look of withering disdain when it suddenly hit me, with all the force of a three-year-old walking into the path of an oncoming dogsled team but none of the subtlety: the movie theater had assigned seating.

I was absolutely floored.  Or, more accurately, de-floored.  Here we were, reaping the rewards of an early arrival with some of the best seats in the house, when these coños who didn’t even have the common sense to get to the theater until 10 minutes after the movie’s scheduled start time show up and complain to the usher that we were sitting in their precious seats.  And, of course, while they were making themselves comfortable in our beautiful center row aisle seats, we were being shown to our designated seats in the last row of the farthest left-hand corner of the theater. ¡Que mierda de toro!

I bet Franco wouldn’t have let this fly.  True, he probably wouldn’t have permitted American movies to be played in Spain in the first place, but at least then we would have been spared the scarring injustice of our theater experience.

[1] This title is infinitely more brilliant if you’ve read Donn Fendler – Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Joseph B. Egan.  I recommend that you do, if only because one time, when I was like ten, I met Donn at a book signing and asked him if I could see the part of his toe that got cut off during his adventure and he took off his shoe and showed me.  It was awesome.

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