Success! 7/13/2010

Success!  7/13/2010
Europe to Africa.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Saturday & Sunday

I said goodbye to my family in the rental car bus.
They were flying back to California after a hot vacation in new Hampshire.
I wandered around the airport, bought yet another book and candy bar and found my gate.
Hilary had given me something to help me sleep on the flight and some advice about how best to avoid jet lag.
The flight was easy, I slept some and arrived in Madrid for the first time.
I had almost three hours to kill before my connecting flight to Malaga so off I went in search of soccer jerseys for my girls.
Now this is the actual day of the World Cup Final match, and Spain is favored to win. If this had been America, there would have been specially constructed kiosks in the airport to sell World Cup stuff, but this was Spain and I couldn't find anything.
I had fun looking, went to lots of shops. Had some breakfast and got on my next plane. This one was delayed over an hour on the tarmac waiting for luggage from Munich. I arrived in Malaga, a tourist destination on the Mediterranean coast of Spain and waited for my bag.  I think all of the German bags got off first, but then I tried a different area and there it was.  My bag is very heavy because I brought some Gatorade from California, some water from Maine (NH) and four huge sweatshirts as gifts for my pilot, crew, and Rafael (the guy in charge).
I rented a cute car, refused the GPS, and off I drove.
I felt like my adventure was truly beginning.  The route to Tarifa was easy to follow.
I didn't see much of the ocean because I opted for the pay route since it was faster even if a bit inland.  You might thing I should be enjoying the sights, but I couldn't get to Tarifa fast enough.  I left the pay route at the Tarifa exit.  Coming around a corner I saw about 50 huge windmills.  It made me feel like my brother Chris was welcoming me to Tarifa.  Around the next corner I saw my first glimpse of Africa and started to cry.  I didn't plan on that.  Then I saw the Atlantic Ocean and cried anew.  I didn't realize what an emotional trip this would be.  I focused so much on training and fretted so much on whether I had done enough or healed enough to go through with it, and here it is.  My dream adventure.  The beauty alone was staggering, and the enormity of the challenge became very real.  This is big stuff.  I drove to my hotel first to call.  It being Sunday night, and the night of the World Cup final, I didn't reach Rafael.  
So I decided to focus on the match.  My family enjoys soccer more than most Americans.  We watch about 75% of all the World Cup matches.  We would Tivo them everyday, and often I would catch some of a game live, and then watch it later with my family.  So I was excited.  Travelling alone has many perks, but watching a soccer game is a social event.  I went to the heart of Tarifa's main square and there was a jumbotron of sorts set up on a stage for all to see.  By 8:15 pm, with fifteen minutes to kick off, the screen was blank and there were three guys scrambling to get it to work.  All of the nearby cafes with TV were full to the rafters.  I just kept walking away from the square listening for a TV and looking for a place to watch.  Every bar and restaurant I came upon was full.  As I crossed yet another block I saw an Italian flag outside a bar.  There were only about 10 old men inside, but they were shouting and singing with gusto.  In I go, not even knowing how to order a drink, so the bartender gave me a beer, and after much pantomime a glass of ice.  I got to sit right in front of the TV and next to a fan.  The fan was crucial.  Not only was it hot, but everyone was smoking.  They were GREAT fans.  Singing often and loudly.  They liked that I was there, but we all just really watched the game.  At half time with no score, I went to find some food.  The Italian bar had been a hard core drinking establishment.  The best I could have hoped for was chips, or nothing.  Along the main tourist street in the old town section, there are no cars and every store front is a restaurant or a bar.  The ones with TV were filled to over flowing.  The rest were shuttered.  Kids were roaming the street blowing horns, waving flags, and setting off poppers (bang bang).  There was one place filled with orange jerseys.  Every patron was Dutch.  I thought I might be able to squeeze in there and get a pizza, but no.  I ordered one to go and as I left, I could here the cheers that the big outdoor screen was working.  I stood near a tree eating a pizza out of a box and watched Spain conquer Holland.  The street was full of red jerseys, flags, voovoozelas, and painted faces. By the beginning of overtime my feet were tired, but the crowd had grown such that there was no hope of sitting down.  Then they scored, with only minutes to spare and the place went wild.  Not scary wild, happy, joyful wild.  Everyone was screaming, and hugging, and dancing, and crying.  I was crying and clapping and whistling.  It was awesome.  
I found my way back to my car and drove back to my hotel.  Every car on the street had flags flying, horns honking, and people hanging out the windows.  The joy was palatable.  I felt lucky to share in it.  I was home by midnight and fell right to sleep.  So much for jet lag (yeah Hilary).I had planned to call Rafael first thing  but I didn't wake up until ten.  I phoned him and made arrangements to meet at eleven.  I quickly showered, just missed breakfast, and went to find him in Tarifa.  I neglected to tell him that my cell didn't work so I couldn't ask for directions.  He said get to the old town and then call.  I was too excited to remember the silly little complication of no phone, so I parked and then asked everyone I passed where #19 Calle de Luz was.  Needless to say, I found Rafael.

Rafael is charming and kind.  He explained that he works for the Vessel traffic Control (shipping controllers for the Straits) and does the swimming assistance on the side.  He told me that two people were in the water as we spoke and that I should call again at 6:00 pm to see if tomorrow would be a good day.  I went around town looking for soccer jerseys and a sun cover up.  Had no success but found a lovely place to eat lunch.  I went back to my hotel around six and walked across the road to the beach.  I went into the Atlantic, played in the waves and took a few strokes, but mostly just tested the water temperature.  It is good!  warmish, but cool.   Nothing like San Francisco, but a little colder than the lake in New Hampshire were I had just spent a week swimming my last four hour swim.
I called Rafael.
They both made it.  And tomorrow looks good.
I am to meet him at the docks in the harbor at 9:00 am ready to go.
I wish it was earlier, to avoid the sun, but I will do as I am told.
This is it.  
And now to bed.
I asked for a wake up call and I set my alarm (I would like to read this over and edit it, but I need to make up my feed bottles and fret some more) so off to bed.
More soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Gibraltar Straits