Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Camino Inglés: The Final Event-Packed Day.

I caused a lot of laughter at the Santiago bus station yesterday. Twice.

The first time was when I again lost my temper with stupid replies being given to me - this time at the Monbus ticket office at the bus station - and was looked on as a crazy guiri. Albeit one who could shout in Spanish.

I should point out that there's no information given there as to which platform the many incoming buses arrive at. Your ticket tells you it will be between numbers 10 and 18 and also gives you the number of the bus. But, as the buses arriving don't portray numbers, people mill around, trying to find what destinations are shown in lights on the front of each bus.

I was looking for one showing 'Ferrol' but never saw one. So, at 4.20, I went to the ticket office, where this ensued:-
What happened to the 4.pm bus?
It went.
How come? I didn't see a bus saying Ferrol.
Yes, it was showing 'A Coruña and Ferrol'.
Isn't that two different directions? There were 3 buses down there at 4 0'clock and none of them indicated Ferrol.
Well, I took the passenger details down to each bus so I know one went to Ferrol.
But there was no indication of this. Either for me or for the guy who spoke to you before me because he never saw a bus to Ferrol either.
Well, when you're not sure, you should aways ask the driver where a bus is going.
Why isn't there screen saying where the buses are going, as there used to be.
There was one but there isn't one any more.
I know that.
[At this point a Monbus driver got involved, really getting my goat up]
There definitely was a bus going to Ferrol. I spoke to the driver.
Maybe there was but it wasn't showing Ferrol, only A Coruña.
No, it showed A Coruña and Ferrol. I saw it.
Why would you be looking for the destination of a bus? And, more to the point, do you think I'm blind or stupid? I was watching all the buses and their destinations and none of them had a rolling screen saying it was going to La Coruña and Ferrol. There was only a fixed one saying 'A Coruña'.
Are you calling me a liar?
[At this point, I turned back to the woman at the counter and asked for my money back. There was no resistance to this. I returned at 5.45 for the 6pm bus and picked up the conversation.]
So, when you go down to each bus, do you give the driver details of tickets sold and the number of passengers getting on?
Yes.
So, why doesn't he/she correlate that with the number of people who get on. Or don't, like me and the other guy?
Because many people don't turn up.
So, why do you do it?
So we know how many are on the bus if it crashes and everyone burns.
But that total won't be right if there are no-shows!
What do you mean?
Well, the 4pm bus [assuming it ever really existed] will have had at least 2 passengers fewer than the list, being me and the other guy. No?
I guess so. But we have to do it.
. . . . .
How long does the bus take to Pontedeume?

Not long after this, I gave those present another reason to laugh, when I tried to go back up a down-escalator after only going down a metre or so.

I would advise against this even when you're lightly encumbered but certainly not when you have a heavy rucksack on your back and are carrying 2 walking poles.

I fell and then stupidly tried to do it again. Having fallen again and hurt my knees, I gracefully accepted defeat and decided to remain prostrate until the bottom, when 2 people kindly helped me gather both myself and my things.

Then I noticed I no longer had my ticket and realised it had gone into the maw of the escalator. So, in an even fouler mood, I limped back up the stairs to try to blag my way to another one. Or pay for it, if necessary.

Happily, I saw it on the floor at the top of the escalator. A crumb of comfort.

I have a strong suspicion the 4pm bus was cancelled, and was strengthened in this belief by the care taken by a Monbus employee to tell me where the (late) 6pm bus was coming from and where it was going to.

Which - need I say? - was direct to Ferrol, without first going to A Coruña.


By the way, I tore my trousers and bloodied my knees in my fight with the escalator. But I won't allow this to spoil my highly enjoyable week. Especially because of this little tale:-

During our walk along the Coastal Way a couple of weeks ago, my companion and I met two young French women while waiting for a bus out out Unquera. As they said they were bound eventually for Vigo, I said I could pick them up a week later in Oviedo and they could wash all their stuff in my house in Pontevedra and sleep in proper beds for  night or more. During the next 2 days, I tried but failed to get calls and messages of confirmation to them by phone and email but nothing got a response. So, I concluded they hadn't been serious when they'd said they'd definitely come.

Yesterday at midday I was sitting on the terrace of a Santiago cafe, waiting for some friends. But I was actually in the wrong place. I looked up from El País to see to a young woman looking at me. When she asked, in effect, if I was me, I said yes but admitted I didn't recognise her. She was, it transpired, one of the 2 French women from Unquera and she told me they'd sent me messages galore trying to find out if they could still come. Once we got over our surprise and pleasure at this remarkable chance meeting, we agreed I'd pick them up in Santiago after I'd got my car from Pontedeume. In view of previous difficulties, we agreed a fixed time and place. Which is just as well, as I was, of course, rather later than agreed and all attempts to contact them again failed completely.

So, there might be a god, after all. At least if you live in Santiago de Compostela.


Normal service resumes tomorrow.

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