Donde esta mi coche?
What happens when you´re lost in a foreign capital city? Usually you can ask for directions from locals and get by on the basics right, left, straight on, right? Wrong. On my first day in Madrid, (the stop off city for my flight to Bogota, Colombia) and the sunny capital of Espana, I am actually with a local and we manage to not only get lost on the dusty backroads of the city centre but to lose our car!
We´d been wondering for over an hour in the afternoon heat. In the summer season, the hottest part of the day here is in fact the afternoon. From 3pm till about 6pm it can actually be sweltering! Today was no exception. And the past week has been in the news, as much of Spain has been left tinder dry after a prolonged heatwave.
Meanwhile, Blanca (my friend I am staying with) and I, had just been to the famous sunday market in Madrid leading to the Plaza Major. Centuries ago this square was apparantly famous for being one of the largest markets in the world and was still rather impressive in the 21st century. Impressive enough it saw me delve out the first of my euros on a Moroccan leather backpack and a straw hat to shade me from the heat of the day. Lucky for me my recent investment came in handy as we walked back from lunch towards where we thought we´d parked the car.
We stop for an icecream as I maintain that we are going to continue to enjoy our day out despite the rising feeling of panic I suddenly encounter when I realise that we can´t quite remember exactly where we parked the car in this massive capital. Until this point I had been marginally calm, as I told myself, Blanca knows where she is going, she´s just had a bit of a mind blank.
After re-tracing our steps over and over, I optimistically beckon: “Hey, I recognise that shop front,” until we both realise we have been here before, but not this morning, about 20 minutes earlier and we are now quite definitely walking round in circles.
Being the tourist, I´d assumingly thought that Blanca had noted where she´d parked the car but was slowly feeling increasingly guilty that I hadn´t taken any responsibility in locating our transport.
“It´s so easily done”, I joke, “we´ll have to ask for directions,” as it slowly dawns on me that unlike before when we asked for directions to the market, we can´t stop just any old Spanish person and ask, “Perdone, donde esta mi coche?”. Whilst I´m attempting to practice as much Spanish as possible on this trip, I have to resist on this occasion as my answer is undoubtedly going to be “No sé donde está su coche!”
After approximately a good hour and a half of trying to read Blanca´s facial expressions to determine how seriously lost we are, I decide to think logically and hope for the best. “We certainly didn´t come as far as this big confusing roundabout and I definately remember the car garage we walked past about 10 minutes ago so maybe we´ve walked too far!” Blanca, to my surprise agrees and we head back in the direction we came towards the market. We reach the large roundabout and it feels a little bit like we´re in a big game of russian roulette as to where we´ll end up. After attempting two options we head back down one of the one way streets away from roundabout that is much like an uncontrollable octupus with too many legs and finally we genuinely start to recognise things.
Relief washes over us both as we recall our conversation when we passed the Western Union bank this morning as to whether I could get cash out from there and then again we recognise the pile of boxes outside a cafe that I remember thinking highlighted the pollution and waste that puts me off coming to big cities.
Finally, Blanca seems like a moth to a flame and continues to march on forward. Like an obedient child I follow her unchallenging. It is suddenly like someone has turned on a homing beacon and Blanca goes straight to it. From about 100 yards away we see her bright red Toyota Yaris sitting there as if to say- how could you lose me? Ultimately, in the end, it wanted to be found!
We both burst into laughter and on the journey home, reflect on what on earth you do if you actually lose your car. It was sooo easily done! Do you report it to the police? Is there some kind of street warden that could look out for your number plate? If you´re not high-tech enough to have a tracking device on your keys like the majority of us, it could quite easily be and have been for us game over! Next time, I may suggest taking the bus…