It’s very warm here. Too warm to rush anywhere.
I ambled into the bus station at La Linea. There was a Spanish guy wanting to go to Málaga.
First he went to the ticket office for the wrong company. Then when he got to the ticket office for the correct one, it had a closed sign. He looked impatiently at his watch. It was 3.30pm.
I – helpfully or interferingly depending on your point of view – said that the bus to Málaga didn’t go until 5.45pm and the ticket office would probably open half an hour before that.
Then I read the notice, it said it would reopen at 3.30pm. And this guy was looking so annoyed. Like, this is Spain. Back at 3.30pm does not mean back at 3.30pm, it means back sometime after 3.30pm when I feel like it.
Suddenly the ticket office opened, a mere two minutes late. The Spanish guy asked something, I didn’t hear what but he looked disappointed. He probably asked when the next bus was as he didn’t believe the silly foreigner.
So then I told him he could get the direct bus from Algeciras and he would arrive in Málaga sooner. He looked terrifed. How far away is Algeciras? How do I get there?.
Er, about 25 kilometers, and you walk about ten yards from the ticket offices towards the buses, get on the bus at 4pm, and pay two euros. Hardly difficult.
Well how long will it take? About 40 minutes. And then you can get the direct bus at 5pm or 5.45pm.
He eventually processed all this and decided he would ask at the ticket office “just to make sure”. Ie you are foreign and don’t know what you are talking about.
So he asked. Well actually he was about to go to the wrong company yet again so I pointed him towards the right one. Unsurprisingly they told him exactly what I had said.
He explained to me that he was totally lost with buses as he hadn’t been on one since he got a car eight years ago but sadly his car was broken down so he had to brave the world of public transport. Wow. What a protected and naive species you are.
I saw him again in Algeciras. Obviously we were in the same queue.
In front of me was someone who also wanted to go to Málaga. He wanted to get the 5pm bus. It was full (completo). He was not happy with this and told the ticket cashier and complained at her as though it was personally her fault.
She patiently explained that she had rung up for another bus, and if there was one available, then he could get on that, but she couldn’t issue a ticket yet because she didn’t know if it was coming. He would have to wait and risk it, or get a ticket for the 5.45pm.
Now what I don’t understand is – these people are Spanish. Buses are often well used and if you really want to get a particular bus, why not buy your ticket in advance? You can all speak the language far better than me – one of you doesn’t know how to buy a ticket and the other one abuses a ticket cashier because a bus is full. Dear me.
I made sympathetic noises to the cashier and booked a seat on the 5.45pm. When it arrived, I looked round for Señor Abusive and Señor Clueless. Neither of them were there. Obviously the extra bus did turn up after all. Must remember that for next time.
Not that 45 minutes made any difference to me. I got into Málaga, and the next bus according to my timetable was at 8.30pm. But there was one on the noticeboard to my nearby town at 8pm.
I wandered over to the bus on the off-chance. No point asking at the ticket office as there was a queue.
Hola, says me. Are you the directo? As you do in Spain because the driver and the bus are synonymous. No, he said. Oh very good, do you stop at my pueblo? Si. So I got me a ticket for my pueblo from the driver and got home half an hour earlier than planned which meant I also arrived in time for the supermarket.
A good journey. Always best to ask the right people the right questions. And no need to show disrespect for other people because you haven’t planned your journey.