Living in Spain isn’t always easy. 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 realise 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 belong to life, and especially they belong to travelling. No matter how bad of a nightmare it feels at the moment, afterwards you’ll think of it as another funny story to share with your friends (or blog readers).
I started to think what would be my worst travel nightmare this far. It happened when I was living in Spain, and here it comes:
The story takes place at the beginning 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 that would be 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 caused me some serious headaches. It was Monday evening, and I was frustrated, and in quite a bad mood, so I decided to go to the balcony to have some fresh air. I was chatting with my boyfriend Daniel, who was living in Finland even though I had moved to Spain. I typed him a 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 if you were lucky, you could 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 guess what happened next. Well, I will finish my story anyway.
I was always very careful with the balcony door making sure I’d leave it a little bit open. This time, frustrated as I was, I slammed the door a lot harder than usual, and… “CLICK!”
And there I was, on a balcony on the 4th floor of the building behind locked doors, without a 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 into my own flat.
It didn’t take too long to notice that if I didn’t want to break the glass door, I wouldn’t have too many chances to get back in. I started to take down some door parts, but really soon I realised that those parts didn’t have any effect on anything.
My Estepona apartment had a nice-looking swimming pool. Too bad you couldn’t use it in December…
Suddenly, I noticed that my next-door neighbours had a light on in their bedroom (assuming that their flat was similar to mine), so I started to shout for help – without any reaction. As shouting didn’t get any results, I tried to look for something to throw on their balcony to catch their attention.
My options were a bucket and four 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 so loud that most probably it wouldn’t have had any effect. 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 realised 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 concluded that these stone buildings wouldn’t burn anyway, so what would they do with a fire ladder… (Living in Spain – what a dream, am I right?)
After another deep breath, I kept on shouting. I was screaming for help in Spanish, yelling for help in English and swearing a lot in Finnish. During around half an hour of shouting, this is all I reached:
One couple was walking along the quiet street that I saw when I stretched from the side of the balcony. The couple was 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 Spanish people, who typically are so nice and polite, don’t even bother listening one bit when someone actually needed help. Especially in a place where there weren’t too many people who could hear me 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 (and gas was turned off)
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 started shouting as loud as I could. After a few trials, I saw a woman below my balcony asking what’s wrong. With my amazing Spanish, I explained to her what had happened and asked her to go to knock on my neighbours’ door. I had understood that my landlady also owns 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 on 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. Until suddenly 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 was 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 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 share with my friends and blog readers. And like any good story, also this one has a lesson to learn:
Be kind to your cleaning lady – especially when you’re living in Spain. You’ll 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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