Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Oct 24 2016

In Spain

Heavy rain greeted us in the morning in Shanghai at the Hotel With the Mysteriously Uneven Floors. Breakfast was a meager lineup of food in metal canisters, eaten to the Australian twang of the tourists at the next table. They were complaining that they had no choice of hotel, but please, if anyone had a choice they wouldn’t choose that one. Command economy FTW.

The bus back to the airport was nicer than the one from the airport, but the scene that greeted us as we forged our way into customs was utter chaos. Immigration was insanely crowded, but the security line was a huge crowd of people stuck in what passed for a line, with Chinese people cutting in line left and right, occasionally being shouted at by the officers. Chenbl’s luggage fell over and scared a small Chinese girl, who immediately went into hysterics mode. The whole thing was the most impressive display of incompetence I’ve seen at an airport, and that, sir, is saying something.

Thankfully we’d arrived at the airport three hours ahead of schedule, so we were on time when we took the escalator downstairs from the semi-civilized airport lounges into the cattle pen that held everyone not deemed good enough to board their planes directly from the gates. A bus took us out to the tarmac and dumped us into inches of water in the pouring rain, leaving us to fend for ourselves on the way to the stairs, which weren’t even covered, though several other covered stairways stood by a little ways away, unused.

The plane was nicer at least. I watched a long series of movies as we flew over Russia’s flyover country (in this case all of it), trying to stay awake so I could defeat jetlag in Madrid. Towards the end of the flight I was nodding off, though.

Customs and immigration in Madrid were quick and easy. We met Carlos at the airport and got on the subway into town, against Carlos’ better judgement because the station near our hotel was closed. This turned out to be a bad idea, as it was raining hard in Madrid as well. The whole world, it seems lately, is undergoing a deluge of biblical proportions. Taipei, Shanghai, Madrid…it doesn’t matter where we go, it’s always soaking, sopping wet.

I wanted to go right to bed, but Chenbl had other ideas, so we all went out and walked around the neighborhood. I was dragging my feet, nodding stupidly at any inquiries made in my direction, and there was no way I could have written a journal entry, so I just passed out instead.

That was yesterday. Today we awoke early in the morning to….more heavy rain. We headed out anyway, having breakfast at a 24-hour joint across the street where they have nice donuts and ham sandwiches. Then we stopped into an old church, and then visited a large flea market where the stall owners were kept busy trying to keep the rain from collapsing their tents. A marathon was being run nearby, the police keeping things in order; one pedestrian tried to cross illegally, and was escorted by an officer right back to where he’d been.

Then we took a bus to Segovia. A nice bus, and after going through a tunnel and over some mountains, actual sun came out. We spent some time on logistical bs before making our way downtown to see the big aqueduct, and then climbing up to see the big cathedral and the castle. It was quite impressive. When the tour guide mentioned Queen Isabella giving Christopher Columbus a bunch of money for his trip, I added, “…so he could begin hundreds of years of exploitation, slavery and genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.”

“The bitch,” Carlos added helpfully. The birds there have calls that sound like laser guns. Having skipped lunch, we feasted on ham and cheese with a whole damn pig before rushing back to get the bus back to Madrid. We were stuck in traffic for two hours, but I spent it asleep.

There are many more details about the day that I’ve forgotten because we’ve been rushing around and I didn’t have the chance to write them down. Just FYI, it’s that kind of vacation, so don’t expect too much from this account.

posted by Poagao at 6:01 am  

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