Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Hide and Seek in Avila

Monday 31st August: I set off early from Madrid, bound for the old walled city of Avila, were I was due to meet up with Spiral. Some of the planning in the build up had been confused and so I caught the train not entirely sure of how and when the rendezvous would take place, but confident that in the age of modern communications news would arrive from somewhere, at sometime. The winding journey north took me past El Escorial and the intimidating 150 metre crucifix that Franco had built, using slave labour to guard his tomb in the Valle de los Caidos. Avila, I hoped would be more welcoming.

The last email I'd had from Carol on Saturday had suggested I make my way to the town for around midday so we could eat together; but they weren't there on arrival so after a slow coffee I headed into town and grabbed a sandwich in the most public looking plaza I could find, hoping they'd come by. After another couple of hours and no sign I went in search of an Internet cafe. Carol had written and would meet me off the 2.40pm train - unfortunately it was now 3pm! I tried to run to the station (but seconds later had to run back to the cafe to appease the angry owner who I'd forgotten to pay!) and somehow got lost.

So I looked for some Roman ruins, knowing that if any existed in Avila, Marta would find them - but ended up on the steps of the Cathedral. At five I got restless and wondered whether my tactic of sitting still and waiting to be found was backfiring. Perhaps Spiral were playing the same game? I tried to get onto the City walls to see if I could spot them from on high, but the ticket office would neither let me take my rucksack up nor leave it in the box office!

I ended up at Saint Teresa's monastery, but not even this miracle worker seemed to have the answer!... so back to the Internet cafe and a pleaded promise that I wouldn't try another runner allowed me to discover that Spiral were waiting back at the station for the last arrival form Madrid, after which they'd leave and resume the search in the morning. Once again timing was out. The train had left ten minutes earlier!

I wrote a quick response saying I'd be fine, spend the evening watching the sunset over the beautiful sandstone walls and catch a bus to Piedrahita (where we're based for the week) tomorrow.

...and with that I used the only tactic that was sure to work. I booked a room, dumped my by now very heavy bag and headed off to find a drink .... and there they were Marta, Carol and Carlos... visions in lime and white !!!

To the surprise of the receptionist, who'd never had a ten minute guest before, I checked out in world record time, without pinching so much as a bar of soap, and as the moon rose over the mountains happily fell into Marta's truck and headed off for a new adventure.

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