Living abroad isn’t always easy – not even in sunny Spain. Very soon after moving to Estepona, a crappy day was followed by a real nightmare on a balcony.
It’s funny to read about John’s and other ex-colleagues’ little mishaps, especially when I remember that if a few things had gone a bit differently a couple of months ago, I could have been in this same situation with them.
Well, mishaps are part of life, and especially part of travelling. No matter how bad of a nightmare it feels at the moment, afterwards you will think about it as a funny story to tell to your friends.
I started to think what would be my worst travel nightmare this far and here it comes:
The story takes place at the start of December 2011. I had just moved to Spain a few weeks earlier, and I was living in a fairly old building near Estepona, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. At the time I was looking for a new flat closer to work, nearer to other people and the possibility of having a life, but when this happened, I was still stuck on the 4th floor of this building.
The apartment hunt had given me some serious head aches. It was Monday evening, and I was frustrated and on quite bad mood, so I decided to go to a balcony to get some fresh air. I was chatting with my boyfriend Daniel, who was living in Finland even though I had moved to Spain. I left him a chat message saying “I will go to a balcony for a couple of minutes, brb”.
My balcony was in the bedroom, and it opened the views to the swimming pool and an empty inner court. If you really tried to lean out from the side of the balcony, you were able to see a quiet street and perhaps hear what was happening at the main door of the building.
There were quite many buildings, but at that time of the year most of the apartments were empty. And the most essential fact is that I had a sliding door on my balcony. Once it’s locked, it really is locked. There is no way to open it from outside.
You might be able to quess what happened next. Well, I will finish my story anyway.
Normally I was being very careful with the balcony door, leaving it a little bit open. This time, frustrated as I was, I slammed the door a lot harder than usually… “click”!
And there I was, on a balcony on the 4th floor of the building, behind locked doors, without phone, without keys, in the middle of nowhere with balcony views to an empty inner court. And the worst thing: there was only a tiny drop left in my wine glass!
My very first reaction was an explosive laughter. After a couple of deep breaths I started to think about my options, how to break in to my own flat.
It didn’t take long to notice that if I didn’t want to break the glass door, I wouldn’t have too many options. I started to take down some door parts but really soon I realized that those parts didn’t have any kind of affect on anything.
I noticed that there was a light on in my next door neighbours’ bedroom (assuming that their flat was similar to mine) so I started to shout for help… Without any kind of reaction. I was even trying to look for something to throw on their balcony to catch their attention!
My options were a bucket and plastic balcony chairs. I decided not to try as I hardly would have been able to throw anything up to their balcony anyway, and even if I had, I heard their TV being so loud that most probably it wouldn’t have had any kind of result. Except that I would have had a missing bucket and four fewer balcony chairs.
I was also trying to investigate if there was even a tiny possibility to climb down by using the balconies below, but after having a look on the balcony above me, I realized that there’s no way of doing that without a ladder.
In Finland there is always a fire ladder next to a window or a balcony even 2-3 meters above the ground level, but not in Spain. I made a conclusion that these stone buildings wouldn’t burn anyway so what would they do with a fire ladder…
After another deep breath I continued shouting. I was screaming for help in Spanish, screaming for help in English and swearing a lot in Finnish. During around half an hour of shouting, this is all that I reached:
One couple was walking along the quiet street that I saw when I stretched from the side of the balcony. The couple were watching and listening to me for a while until they continued walking. In the opposite building someone opened a small window, peeked out and then closed the window. On a balcony one floor up, an old man came out to see what was happening. I was crying for help from him as well but he just went back in and closed his balcony door. From inside, unlike me. Brilliant!
It seemed like normally so nice and polite Spanish people don’t bother to listen even one bit when someone actually needed help. Especially in a place where there weren’t too many people who could hear my shouting in the first place.
I gave up trying for a while, sat down and tried to think of the positives:
1. Luckily I didn’t have anything on the stove at the moment
2. Luckily I wasn’t naked or wearing only underwear
3. Luckily I had the bucket on the balcony, in case I had to stay there the whole night I would at least have some pot where to do my business!
While I was sitting there in my outdoor prison, I was wondering how long it would take for my boss Brad and my colleague Gina to come and check what has happened when I don’t appear to work the following morning and I’m not answering my phone.
Suddenly I heard some tinkling keys at the main door and I started shouting as loud as I could. After a few trials I saw a woman standing under my balcony and asking what’s wrong. With my amazing Spanish I explained her what had happened and asked her to go to knock on my neighbours’ door. I had understood that my landlady owns also the apartment next door. So I was hoping that the tenants could call my landlady to come and rescue me.
“Don’t worry, take it easy”, said the woman and ran inside. I was so relieved that I finally allowed myself to have the last drops of wine from my almost empty glass.
After another half an hour I started to give up hope again, since I didn’t hear anything about the woman or anyone else. I was so sure that this woman had just entered her own flat and is now relaxing on her couch with a full glass of wine. But then two big-bellied guys appeared on the next door balcony and started asking what the hell I have been up to.
Once again I told what had happened, and they were calming me down and telling that the help is coming. And then they went back in.
Again I was sitting alone on the balcony, being sure that my destiny had been sealed at that very moment the balcony door locked.
After a while I heard some noise under my balcony. It was the cleaning lady of my building, explaining that she had called my landlady and she will be here in 15-20 minutes with her keys. Finally! Once I saw my bedroom door opening, I was so happy to see my landlady that I jumped to give her a huge hug! I was saved!
Indeed, even if during my lockdown it really felt like the worst possible nightmare, today it’s only a funny story to tell to my friends and blog readers. And as any good story, also this one has a lesson to learn:
Be nice to your cleaning lady, you will never know when your destiny is in her hands!
What is your travel nightmare like and what is the lesson you learned?
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