Algeciras, Spain Friday November 25, 2016

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the United States, but there was no sign of the holiday here in Spain. However, to my surprise, I have seen some billboards announcing a Black Friday sale for today with the words Black Friday in English. We may not be exporting our USA holidays, but we are exporting our shopping customs. ūüôā

Before I begin the boring account of yesterday’s bus trip from Seville here to Algeciras in the southernmost tip of Spain, allow me to write a boring account of a lost item. I carry a hard case to put my glasses in at night when I sleep or when I am taking a shower, as I usually stay in shared dormitories in hostels and don’t want someone stepping on my expensive spectacles. In Seville the case disappeared. It simply vanished. I repeatedly searched every nook and cranny of my luggage, under the bed, in the cupboard, etc., but it was nowhere to be found.

Then yesterday, when I entered my room here in Algeciras and opened my suitcase, there was my eyeglass case right on top of everything else I had packed in the morning! How did that happen? Is some nasty leprechaun messing with my mind in an attempt to rob me of the modicum of sanity that I still possess?

When I left Seville, the weather was sunny and not too chilly under a mostly cloudless sky. Long before the bus arrived in Algeciras, the rain started, and I see the forecast for Gibraltar, just a short distance away, calls for rain showers throughout the three days that I’ll be staying here. On the way, I noticed two motorcycle police parked under a bridge, and I asked myself what they were doing there. I’m a bit slow to catch on, sometimes, but I finally realized that it was raining hard, and they were taking shelter. Riding a motorcycle in the driving rain cannot be fun.

I left the hostel at about 11 am, and Andr√©, my French-Canadian roommate, said he was sorry to be losing the company. Our other roommate, Alonzo, also left for home. He can find no work where he lives, so he works two long nights at a stretch as a nurse in a hospital in Seville and then commutes back home by bus to spend three days with his family. At least when I left the hostel, I no longer had any of the half-dozen back issues of magazines that I started the trip with. Traveling does give one ample time to read. Now I can get back to the French novel I’ve been trying to read on my Kindle.

img_0361

The reason I took the following picture of the light rail train is because I suddenly realized that there are no overhead wires. The have since learned that the light rail runs on batteries through the most touristy part of the city. Perhaps you can see a horizontal rod in the picture above the center of the train. When the train stopped, a folding tower ascended from the train and made contact with that rod in order to get some electric current from it to refresh the batteries. There are also overhead wires at the ends of the line where the train’s batteries are recharged. I had previously never seen a battery operated, full-scale light rail train.

img_0362

The bus station I left from looked large by the standards of the western cities of the USA, but it was tiny compared to the bus station at which I had arrived in Seville. In this station, there was only one boarding platform. In the other  there were many. Of course, the bus station here in Algeciras where I arrived yesterday was even smaller.

img_0363

Someone waiting for a bus awakened the suspicions of two police officers. Here, the one on the left is looking at a young man’s identity paper while talking to someone over his radio. The guy must have checked out, because I didn’t see the officers haul anyone away.

img_0364

Before we boarded the bus, I had a chat with a young man who turned out to be one of the German-speaking Italians who live in the north of Italy. We spoke in English at first and then switched to German when I learned that it was his language.

When I got on my bus, there was a problem. Two English youths had gotten on, but they only had one ticket between them. The bus was delayed while the driver insisted in Spanish that one of them had to get off, and the youths insisted in English that they had paid for two tickets but only received one. The bus driver claimed that the bank had refused the credit card charge for the second ticket. “It’s the bank’s fault and not ours.” The youths insisted that the charge had gone through.

I and a young Spanish woman acted as interpreters during this dispute. Finally the youths got off the bus, and we left Seville 20 minutes behind schedule. Somehow in route the bus driver made up the time.

Because most of my previous travels in Spain have been by train or on foot when I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage last year (that’s a subtle hint about one of my books advertised in the left sidebar), I had never before seen a Spanish toll booth. It looks pretty much like toll booths anywhere else in the world. I took this picture out of the bus window.

img_0365

I also took the following picture of an airliner tail section out of the bus window as we entered Puerto Real on the way to Algeciras. I had not known it previously, but Puerto Real is the place where the final tail assembly and testing takes place for the giant Airbus 380 aircraft.

Because Airbus is largely  owned by various European governments, the assembly plants for the planes are spread around the continent.  to provide employment. Spain has at least two of them including another site in Getafe and one in Illescas.

img_0368

Naturally, it was raining in Algeciras when I arrived yesterday evening, and more rain is promised for today. It is still dark outside, but the rain appears to have stopped for the moment. There is no breakfast included in the price of this room, so it’s time for me to upload this post and go out in search of something to eat.