Swan Lake, Puigcerda
GETTING THERE THE HARD WAY
I'm off at last to Puigcerda but it is not easy.
The woman at the United desk has decided to be a bitch.
return ticket?" she asks in a very critical tone.
"I don't have
one because I don't know when I'm coming back," I say.
She tries to turn this into an incident but fails with her
supervisor; there's no requirement to have a return ticket.
your Joe Blow American on vacation. Joe Blow's an asshole and it's not
illegal to not be Joe Blow and an asshole, at least for now.
It takes two flights to
get to Dublin when I don't want to be there in the first place.
10 AM now and I'm waiting for a 6:30 PM flight to Barcelona.
I feel like
I've been sitting next to an industrial air cleaner for the last 13 hours.
Or in a laundromat with all the machines going at the same time.
I'm listening to all the ambient noise in the Dublin airport plus warnings
about leaving bags unattended.
One good thing about the Dublin
airport: You can buy booze, about anything, at the custom-free shops. I load
up, thinking about unattended baggage that "may be destroyed."
not going to do that to mine, you jerks!
And my father was put to
rest only about a week ago.
That sounds peaceful. You don't get much
peace in an airport.
What did I read yesterday? That last year China
had 180,000 protests of some kind?
I made it to Barcelona but it was
an awful trip. Three flights, with an eight-hour wait for one,
That's a lot of protests in a country whose
government values social stability above all else.
But let's see what America's Fall, or Occupy Wall Street,
produces. It's the latest thing and growing.
When I get to the
hostel in Barcelona I'm feeling physically sick. And after four or so years
on the road, not all that well mentally either.
They do value social
stability, don't they?
I'm in back of a young blond Norwegian girl
at the desk who seems to be feeling not quite mentally ill but not quite
mentally balanced either.
"I don't understand where this road goes,"
she is asking the guy at the desk most seriously. It looks like it goes
straight into the Mediterranean Sea to me.
My taxi driver said there were
trees all over the city, not just on the street we were on. I was impressed.
"But it looks like it goes here," she says to the guy in back of the
desk, who is Chinese and patiently so.
I took a taxi because the bus
didn't go all the way to the hostel and it was late at night.
just stop before you get to the water," the guy in back of the desk tells
The taxi driver was an older guy who looked like he really loved his
city. Unfortunately I wasn't staying.
The girl doen't look very happy
about his answer. Did she want to drown herself? Was that what this was all about?
"It's a beautiful city," I said to the driver.
at the desk looks
ready to go out on strike. Had he not come to Spain to avoid moody bitches
like Yan Yan?
Finally I get the key to my room and sleep. The fever
The next day was a dream. I took a taxi to the train station in
Barcelona because I had trouble finding the right bus and not much time.
with two small bottles of wine and a sandwich I bought in the station, I
rode the train up into the
Pyrenees Mountains. It is a slow train; it takes about three hours to get to Puigcerda.
It was very green in the fields and mountains on the way up, and the steams
and rivers were flowing with water.
Trout but no green dolphins.
The views were on a smaller scale than
on Amtrak crossing Colorado and the Rocky Mountains but of an exquisite
No crushed butterfly wings.
The Pyrenees are truly rocky mountains, with many jutting and jagged
She has a good bum, don't you think?
Hard to stop once you get started.
No? What's wrong with it?
The only thing that marred the beauty of the scenery
was the continuous talking of a young man. He was with two girls and one
other guy but he allowed no one else to speak.
ME ME ME ME ME
It was not exactly what you
would call a conversation. His tone of voice was that of an exceedingly
clever person entertaining others at a cocktail party.
CLEVER CLEVER CLEVER CLEVER CLEVER
But I'm not sure that his friends
on the train were that entertained. Fortunately
the whole group got off after about an hour.
THE END IS COMING
Finally the train eased
into the station and halted. I was expecting to take a taxi from the train
station near Puigcerda into town but mi yerno, my son-in-law, surprised me.
He was there at the station waiting.
Soon I was finishing the other
half of my sandwich and drinking more wine in my daughter's and son-in-law's
apartment in town.
It took two buses to get to the airport in Los Angeles;
three planes, one bus, and one taxi to get to a hostel in Barcelona; and one
taxi and one train to get to Puigcerda. Was it worth it? That's hard to say.
The answer, as always, depends on what comes next, my mood on any given day,
my attitude in general, and reality. I hope I haven't destroyed the latter.
Being Idiosyncratic in