Out of Nowhere
29 May 2011
Málaga to Fuengirola, España
The hostel breakfast is good because it forces a wakeup. It’s also the busiest time of the whole day because all the youth are either checking out or searching for the last measly bit of jam and bread, which I can proudly say I got a hold of this morning, as others I’ve been disappointed at having woken up early to get sweet, delicious discarded plastic.
Today’s goal is to meet the Swedish Olivia in Fuengirola. I don’t know where it is or what’s there, but apparently “it’s nice”, and I don’t really know at all what it’s going to be like meeting this completely unknown person; we perhaps spoke a total of thirty words to each other when we met.
Just €2.86 for a ticket onto a very nice train, which makes me wonder whether I’m going to the right place at all. Now on the train, it’s times like these when you see that you know nothing, and everyone else around you knows everything that you feel like a real foreigner. I’m off the train and am so lost that I don’t know whether to turn left or right. I’ve lost my compass and can’t remember which direction the sun sets, so I’ve got to walk all the way down the main drag until I see the ocean and people walking back from it, looking at me and my bag strangely. ‘Why so hot and bothered when you’re on the Costa del Sol?’ they’re thinking.
Very Spanish with mountains in the background.
I put all the frustration into the return journey, and it’s another one-and-a-half hours until I’m on the right track. Luckily someone’s here to wish me luck.‘Hola! [incomprehensible Spanish]’ I tell him in a convincingly bad accent that I can’t speak Spanish. 'English?’ 'Si, si’ 'I just wanted to tell you that Jesus – Jesus loves you so much. He really does’ He smiles through his sunglasses.'Ah si si’ He puts his hand on his heart, now,'Jesus just loves you so much, man. I don’t know what you’re doing, if you’re travelling or working – I just need to tell you that Jesus loves you so much.’ Nope, not travelling, can’t speak Spanish and two backpacks are just my normal day to day… 'Gracias, gracias.’ I don’t know whether I’m going to be mugged or not so I smile right back. We exchange names, then a handshake, and he walks off briskly in the other direction. His name was Christian; no kidding. It’s strange enough, but the whole time he spoke so urgently, and left like he had to report to somebody.
Finally my scribbled down directions make sense, but I’m led to this arcade alley way thing. After meeting Christian the Looney, I can’t help but think he’s led me here.
There’s always a catch in finding your bed.
Standing outside the'hostal’ reception, a Romanian guy and I exchange phone numbers, hoping to find work outside of his home country. Europe is depicted as such a glamorous, unique continent (at least to those of the smallest continent of the world), but really there are people really struggling in heaps countries that you don’t hear about.
I do sign language with the receptionist and pay. I notice in the back of my eye an amazingly, deathly skinny man being guided up to his room by two policemen. The receptionist and I soon follow as I’m shown and he shows me to my room, which was the last thing I was expecting. Hostal? Private room? Lost in translation? There’s no time to ponder how I’ve gotten two beds and a shower as I’ve got to meet Swedish Olivia somewhere in this town. I have no idea where she’s coming from. Why is a Swede living in the south of Spain?
Questions that are to be answered soon, as the meet is organised, keeping it in the usual way, by using as few words as possible: 'Hey, do you know Plaza de la Constitucion?’'Yeah, I’ll meet you there’ 'When?’ '30min’ 'How?’ 'Moped’ And there she went.
There’s a 14 year old guy from Thailand, used to live in Australia, here, and every single evening without fail, comes into the reception to go onto the internet. He looks about 20 and doesn’t want to go to the beach any more because he’s afraid he’ll get tanned. Half an hour passes quickly.
It all starts so simply, laughing about the other night, but what we really want to know is what each others’ story is, but not in a cynical way; why the hell did we meet, what are we even doing here? I keep thinking of the abnormality of it all, say it aloud and much laughter between us.
*The now infamous'Plaza de la Constitucion.’
I give my story and I hear her one: born in Spain, bred Swedish but lived here her entire life. I didn’t know I could speak to a person for such a length of time and still be interested; hours and hours pass. The better we get on the stranger the meetup becomes; why in the South of Spain that I said just a handful of words to? Who knew we spoke English? Who knew either of us wasn’t a complete creep? Who knew that I’d get on better with this person better than anyone I can ever recall before?
It’s truly strange and purely by chance – you can’t help but think of all the near misses, too.