DECEMBER 23, 2007 I arrive in Málaga after an uneventful flight. I sleep through most of it, although it’s difficult. The flight attendants are always trying to sell you something, food, water, fragrances. I get a bit of a kip, though, and flow into the feeling of travelling, disembarking, following signs, turning on my phone, presenting my passport [I almost left the American one at home! Can you imagine!], finding the right baggage belt, praying to the Luggage Gods that my own would appear…
And then I’m out, following more signs, taking the lift to the departures lounge, following more signs to the train to take me into town, to the train station, buying my ticket, getting on the train, finally— finally breathing, finally believing it to be real.
Ah, I don’t know, years of living in NYC has given me a fluency in notice-board Spanish, and with no effort at all, I arrive in Estácion Maria Something or Other, and check my bag, and wander a bit, and then decide to take the train into Málaga Centro rather than walk because I have bought what I [now] know to be the worst map of a city ever drawn—
And I get on a train, but it’s not the right one. I know this because as I am a typography enthusiast [or freak, depending on your point of view] and, as I gaze out the window, I notice I’m passing a building I passed on the way in, due solely to the fact that I had remarked its strange use of a bastardised Art Deco font for its frontage. I nip off at the next stop.
I am the only one on the platform.
I watch Spanish trainspotters spot trains.
I wonder if anybody does a line in spotting trainspotters.
I get up and look at a timetable. It doesn’t seem like I’ll have long to wait.
I have nothing to write on.
The trainspotters cease their spotting, and I begin to feel like a right eejit.
I look at the timetable again and realise that I’ve read it wrong and the next train is not coming for another forty five minutes.
Shit. My buzz is being killed— no, it’s dead. I have ruined the whole day, taking the wrong turn, choosing the wrong train, shit, shit, now what? I am seriously in the middle of nowhere, there’s no one around, I’m too shy to try to ask the one guy I’ve seen, officious, carrying keys, what I should do, it’s too far to walk back to town…
But I have to do something. I leave the station. It is as if I have found myself on the backlot of a spaghetti western, there’s no one around, a dog barks— but there’s a road. And that looks like a bus stop.
Do buses run on Sunday, in Spain? Am I operating on outdated information? It is information that I have first-hand knowledge of, I must say: when I lived in Paris, fourteen years ago, everything shut down on Sundays. Well, not the Metró. Well, okay. But maybe not! I begin to walk away. I stop. It is as if an angel has tugged on my sleeve. I turn, and see a bus coming up the road. I run back to the stop, and wave at it like it was my long-last lover. It stops. I give the man a euro. I relax.
Then, nothing much: I take the bus to the end of the line, I manage, through luck, that angel, and my superior sense of direction— no thanks to that utterly rubbish map which does not even have the train station marked on it— to find my way back to the estación. I eat, I wander, I wait for the train to Seville. I get on the train to Seville, and after that, everything is as it should be, and my buzz returns.
I arrive at Sevilla Santa Justa, and Fernando collects me at 7.30 p.m. It’s been a long day.