Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The End of an Era - The Chases Leave a Grateful Spain - Saturday

I enjoyed my last beach time on Friday just before boarding the bus to Huelva to get the one day, one way rental card to the airport. Through scouting the stops, I learned the secret departure time (unpublished wherever we looked;it's on those blank minutes on the Nixon tapes) to Huelva from Nueva Portil was about half past the hour, a little earlier at 3. I was worried because I wasn't sure if the bus took prepaid tickets like in Rome or coins like other areas of Spain. The driver made exact change, so the heretofore secret charge was €1.47. We could have asked people some of these details, but we are both stranger-shy, doubly so with the language barrier. I had asked one girl at the bus stop, "Bus-Huelva?" She sad Si, and I ran away feeling like the east side strangler for verbally assaulting a Spaniard. After the bus arrived in Huelva, I walked through a mostly deserted afternoon town to the Avis car rental, freshly open at 4 after Siesta (turns out there were lots of fun shops 15 minutes away from our flat-sorry Jenny and Jane) .
A very friendly women said this was her first day at Avis. This is actually the second time in a year this had happened to me. When Dustin needed his Budget truck (quickly so he could pack and leave that day), it took at least an hour as the neophytes called tech support for their passwords as we waited. Huelva was a small office without computers to automate the process, so things also went more slowly. She also apologized for her "horrible" English. At this point, I have discovered that people who have the skill level to apologize for their English are usually very helpful in English. (And if her English level is horrible, then my Spanish is akin to not recycling-for shame). She told me the rate was €18 with insurance, much lower than the €62 without insurance quoted to me on the web. I was as giddy as a school boy on mystery meat day at the cafeteria. A while later, it became clear that 80 was being pronounced a-tin instead of a-t, so the rate without insurance was still 62. Oh well, it's still 1/3 the cost of a cab ride and more reliable than 3 or 4 bus connections. I rejected the insurance because good credit cards provide this free when you use the card. We got a Seal Leon, a car I'd never known. It resembles a VW Golf, down to the switch blade key. The guy who inspected the car marked up the damage diagram with Xs everywhere for minor blemishes, tempting me to play bumper cars and ram it against every piece of concrete in sight without consequence, just like buying the insurance. Freedom brings responsibility, so caution was still the rule. The major problem was stalling the car.
A design flaw required me to pull the key completely back and then completely forward to restart the car. This means valuable seconds stuck in the incoming lane of traffic after stalling on an uphill left turn (um, theoretically). But otherwise, it worked great. €5 of gas made it the airport.We also cleaned Friday, sweeping and mopping to remove all of the sand which we had tracked in over 4 weeks. 4 weeks at the beach and other beautiful attractions in Spain and Portugal! And with a sister, an old friend, and a new friend! I'm still lethargic a lot of time, but this was a great place to have some terrific memories with terrific friends.

Footnotes: ^Grateful for our presence or for our departure? This depends on several pending court cases in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and Liberia.


1 comment:

  1. And we had new staff at the truck rental place when you and Mario moved me, too - with a long wait that knocked an already stressful day off schedule. Just our luck.
    Good luck on pending litigation in Europe.