We arrived in Estepona on Monday, after a very long but mostly uneventful journey. We flew AerLingus so had to go through Dublin, which added some time—but that’s the one thing we’ve got plenty of. A 100 MPH tail wind got us to Dublin an hour ahead of time, so there was no rushing for gates or worrying about our luggage making the transfer. But we did have a bit of a lost luggage scare.
When we arrived in Malaga airport, Ray went to the lower level to organize the paperwork for our car rental, and I waited for the luggage. Luggage—that’s one thing that had me tossing and turning in the weeks leading up to this adventure. How do you pack for a long trip through both warm and cold climates, and manage to fit it all into a backpack and a rolling bag per person? It was a challenge, and it remains to be seen whether we will have all the things we need—but we managed it after several hours spent laying things out on the beds, putting them into suitcases, taking them out again, debating the usefulness of each item, and trying again. We were very proud when it was finally accomplished! Will I be able to live with only sneakers and three pairs of shoes? All will be revealed, eventually.
What wasn’t revealed, however, was the location of our bags in Malaga airport. I experienced a horrible, nauseous sensation when I realized they’d turned off the baggage carousel, everyone had gone, and I was still without luggage. I went down to the rental car area, where Ray was still standing in line, and announced the bad news. He gave me the documents with our address in Estepona and the baggage tickets, and I went back up to look for the lost luggage office. There were signs, but no people in the offices. I know it’s Labor Day in the U.S., but why is nobody working lost luggage in Malaga? I was rapidly approaching panic mode when a nice looking bearded young man in an orange polo shirt tried to sell me a tour. I let him know that I was more interested in locating my luggage, probably not in the warmest way. But he was kind, and told me it was probably in the customs area, since my journey did not originate in the E.U. The customs area was through two sets of glass doors, and all the lights were out. I charged ahead, wondering if I would set off alarms or be arrested or perhaps get stuck in that dark room with no way out. There on the carousel were our two bags—one red, one blue, with a halo of light around them and a choir of angels singing in my head. At the other end of the room was an area with a lighted sign reading “Nothing to Declare” in three languages. I charged ahead, wheeling the two bags behind. There were no exit signs, no officials, no people at all. I walked up to a set of double glass doors, praying that they would open and let me out. They did! I was saved. I dragged the bags down to Ray, we got into our little rental car, and we sped down the A-7 to our destination.
In a couple of days I’ll post about settling into our little waterfront apartment in Estepona. But first, I must write about one other misadventure. You do want us to be authentic, don’t you? We took off in our very cute little Seat Ibiza that only Ray can drive because, sadly, I have not yet learned to operate a manual transmission. It was on my to-do list for this summer, but believe it or not I could not find a driving school that teaches on a standard transmission anywhere near us in Massachusetts. Why couldn’t Ray teach me, you ask? Two reasons: first, because we don’t own a car with a manual transmission, and second, because now would be an inauspicious time to get a divorce. After watching Ray struggle mightily to find the reverse gear, my regret is not as intense.
We were shown the apartment by the agent—no surprises really—very cute, well-equipped and in a perfect location. A little teaser photo is attached here—the view from our balcony. We decided to go to the Carrefours super-store at the end of town before it got too late, and pick up some basic provisions—bread, coffee, bottled water, wine, beer, sherry, brandy. Those are the basics, right?
Our apartment is in a gated community at the Marina. The agent had shown us how to touch the key fob to the gate post to let ourselves in. One our way to the market, we drove up to the gate to exit. Ray touched the fob to the pad and nothing happened. He tried again. Nothing. I got out to investigate , hoping to discover some written instructions. Ray put on the brake, got out and looked around for another sensor. He found it, a few meters back from the gate. The gate began to open — inward, right into our bumper. Fortunately, I was outside the car at the time and used my Basque super-strength to hold the gate back before it crushed the car. “Quick, back it up!” I screamed at Ray. He jumped into the driver’s seat; and, this time he was able to find reverse pretty quickly. He backed up. And the passenger’s side door, the one I’d left open, banged into the post where the second sensor is located, a safe distance from the opening gate. We could have ripped the door right off the side of the car had he hit the gas just a bit more enthusiastically. As it turned out, no damage was done, and we nearly needed oxygen once we realized what a comedy of errors had just occurred. It did end with a lot of laughter and no damage to the car.
This story does have a moral—Never drive in a strange place after you’ve been traveling for 24 hours and have not slept. You may do really stupid things that damage property, cost you money, and cause you and your partner deep humiliation when trying to explain how it happened.