Learning to Read the Signs; A Tale of Close Calls and Near Misses


Do you know that feeling when you’ve found yourself exactly where you’re supposed to be, the air feels as warm as springtime? When you reach an agreement with the universe, and everything falls into place?

This is not one of those tales.

Let’s return to the scene of the crime: Sunday night in Granada, Spain, two roomates and a friend from the Netherlands are sitting at a café after dinner chatting when suddenly:

“Hey! Why don’t we go tomorrow? Let’s go drive right up to the Sierra Nevada Mountains!” Thom’s enthusiasm spread over us like an electric current.

“That sounds like a great idea!” Marie chimed.

“But we have school tomorrow. We’ll have to go another day,” was my response, believing that would settle matters.

“It’s just one day. How often are you here, in this beautiful land?” peer pressure sugar-coated each syllable.

“What if we miss something important?”

“Important,” they scoffed. “What could be more important than the Sierra Nevadas?” We passed classmates scurrying, umbrellas in hand. Pangs of guilt and rain bombarded me. It was down pouring.

The sunny, mild Granada who I could always count on had also skipped class. A droll, dismal substitute took her place. “Maybe we shouldn’t do this, my eternal worrier said aloud.”

“It’ll clear up!” Marie’s eternal warrior quipped.

Omen number one fell from the sky,. We forged on, meeting our friend at a car rental agency

Marie shifted gears haphazardly, while the rental agent shouted at us. “I thought you could …drive!” His anger has tarnished his English skills. Thom sat helplessly license-less in the back, while Marie and I contemplated which gears to choose, as we had never driven a manual before. “Get …out!” The man spat out, as we got spit out of his vehicle.

We decide to continue our journey by bus. Leaving the rental agency, mobs of people chanted angrily in Spanish. As to be expected, the strike was concerned with all aspects of the city, including bus transportation. We felt stumped. Then, “Train!” Thom, the optimist blurted out.

“We can still make afternoon class,” I attempted, but I know that we have already committed to this mission. The three of us make our way to the train station, passing stray dogs and small cafes. We excitedly get in line, the promise of a new destination fills our horizons.

“Gaudix it is!” We smile up at the conductor, who gives us three round trip tickets, an unknown town we have never heard of looming before us.

“It’s all about taking chances, right?” Thom happily pockets his ticket and sits on the platform to wait.

Hours later, we arrive in Gaudix.. Empty streets met our gazes. We strolled through the vacant city. Nearly all of the establishments in Guadix were shut down or boarded up. A collective sense of defeat settled over us, and we sat in a park, while waiting for the last train home. “6 pm,” Marie declaredWe waited for the last train when I heard a small voice, “Uh…I think I meant 5 pm. ”We all looked down at our tickets, and bolted towards the train station.

We saw a train departing, and a stiff-looking conductor at the station. He told us no more tains will run from Gaudix to Granada. We’ll just have to wait until the morning. I was dumbstruck. From killing time waiting to leave, to completely missing our train, we were stranded in Spain’s loneliest ghost town. No one was sure how ithappened, and we felt entirely exhausted and miserable. The town gained an eerie feeling in the twilight, the ancient religious statues staring down at us. There was no escaping Gaudix for the night, so we reluctantly found a hotel.

Morning light filled our room, and we clambered to the train station. We were dejected and our sense of adventure lost. Blue dawn surrounded us, and in those early hours Gaudix could be considered beautiful. “The next train is not for another two hours,” the conductor told us.

Finally, we arrived back to Granada. I have never wanted to kiss soil so thankfully. I happily and gratefully attended school that morning. “Gaudix!” a fellow classmate exclaimed, “Where all of the famous cave homes are! That’s so neat, I wish I went. “

Marie, Thom and I all looked at each other, cave homes?! After all of our misgivings, we had actually ended up in a city famous for its secretly stashed dwellings.

“So tomorrow I was thinking…” Marie slyly began…



S Weinraub

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