In my own house no less. Imprisoned. Locked in.

I set off to do the weekend turnaround on the bus. Nice sleepy journey up. Arrived in Málaga just after 1pm. Plenty of time to catch the 1.30 bus to the village.

But no! What was that long queue doing there for tickets? There must have been 20 or 30 people. Naturally, most of them were booking tickets for a few hours hence, or even in a few days time.

There was a ticket machine, for which you needed a debit/credit card. I watched a few people fail to achieve any success from it and decided not to risk a captured card. I stood in the queue wondering why they didn’t have a window for immediate departures.

Behind me were two people wanting the same route and the same time of bus. We all missed our bus because of the crazy queue. I went to one of the bus station bars to drown my sorrows with a small cerveza, San Miguel, 1.20€. I didn’t buy any food as I had been overly stuffed the last time.

When the bus arrived, I joined the queue. The passengers in front and behind me paid in cash on the bus. Not for them the stupidity of joining a queue at the ticket office.

I’d thought about risking that, but I’ve tried it before and been told ‘No, go and buy your ticket from the ticket office.’ He probably didn’t like foreigners. And if I’d done that and got sent back to the ticket office I would probably have missed the next bus as well.

Did I have half an hour to spare? Yes. But why can’t there be a consistent policy? Local journey passengers can pay on the bus, or queue here for immediate departures?

Arriving home, my neighbour immediately came out to greet me. We discussed the progress of my broad beans, the weather, all the usual.

Broad beans starting to flower
Broad beans starting to flower

He told me there hadn’t been much rain, but the front door was sticking a bit at the bottom so I needed to kick it.

Um. The last time I did that, I kicked off the paint and was not the most popular woman on earth with Painting Partner. I gave it a gentle nudge and it opened.

Front door
Front door

About 3am I woke up in a panic. I wouldn’t be able to open the front door to get out. It would be stuck. I couldn’t get out of the window, those nice fancy rejas – window grilles to prevent burglars – prevent an occupant escaping as well as unwanted visitors entering, and the other door out from the patio into the street was playing up with the lock not wanting to work. I couldn’t risk leaving the house unlocked.

I spent most of the night awake fretting about that, and going through various scenarios.

1) Call Jose when he woke up on Sunday morning and ask him to push the front door.

2) Risk trying the patio door lock – and risk the security of the property.

3) Consider climbing over the patio wall, say 12 foot high and a steep drop down.

The only good thing I could focus on was that I had some bread in the freezer, and some left-over food in there too, some tins of sweetcorn, lots of rice, pasta, lentils, beans, and a couple of courgettes, one egg, and some garlic in the fridge. Oh and lots and lots of olives.

I figured I could make it until the weekend when I would be rescued by Partner (who had work commitments).

Meanwhile in panic mode, I decided to text him. At 3.45am. No answer :(

Eventually he got in touch around 8am telling me to open the lock, stick in a credit type card to stop the lock shutting and pull on the bottom of the door (there is a gap). Well that was worse than useless. No way could I get anywhere with my feeble grip. And the card fell out too.

Fuck it. I grabbed the top of the door, which was free, and yanked. I nearly fell on the floor when the door opened.

But next problem. Would I be able to shut it? Well, the short answer is yes I did. OK, not the first time, because I had left one of the bolts open so that I didn’t get locked out (unlikely given the sticking on the bottom, but still, best to keep to a routine). Once I’d closed the bolt, it slammed with a resounding bang.

My neighbour was watching of course. I duly reported that I had turned off the water, he watched me locking the door, and then asked if I had locked everything securely inside. What a sweety. I really couldn’t ask for better neighbours.

I walked out of the gate and looked back up the street in case he was watching me off, he was. I gave him a wave.

Leaving the village to hit the main road
Leaving the village to hit the main road

The return journey was uneventful apart from the fact I spent 40 minutes at the bus stop when buses normally arrive at least every 30 mins. And the bus from Málaga to La Linea was full of crazy people who insisted on pulling curtains to hide from the sun.

They didn’t just pull the curtain for their seat, they decided to pull it back into mine. I moved seat. I liked to see where I am travelling and I like the sun.

Some women got on in Marbella. ‘Can you pull your curtain please?’ said one of them in not very good Spanish.

‘Non.’ I said. And just to make it clear, I added ‘No quiero.’ I don’t want. The bus was more than half empty. If you don’t like it, fuck off and sit in another seat, sensibly on the other side of the bus where there is less bright sunlight. And what was even more annoying was that every time the bus changed direction, all these curtain twitchers kept pulling them backwards and forwards. Serious cases of OCD.

The bus driver put on the air-conditioning. In December! According to the temperature sign in the bus it was 22 degrees. I put my Goretex back on. It was freezing with the air-con.

By the time we got to La Linea, the weather had changed anyway, grey and damp. No-one had their curtain pulled across.

The air-con was off and I was roasted! Why do people have to change things all the time? There is no need to pull curtains and hide from the sun in December. There is no need to put on the air-conditioning. Just take off your coat.

It was of course, bitterly cold (well, relatively) when I got off the bus and headed for the frontier. Nasty cold damp wind. I trudged slowly up Main Street, and fell into the flat, where a delicious casserole was waiting for me. I just love men who cook (future post on Clouds about that one).

Then we both went to sleep. Neither of us had slept since 3/4am when I had woken up in a fit of panic and texted him. He’d read the text but not replied thinking I was asleep. As if!! So we’d both spent half the night worrying about something that didn’t happen. That’s old age for you.


28 comments on “Encerrado!

  1. I like reading about these jaunts you take. how far is the house from your flat in Gib? Does not seem to far as you travel in one days time. You and I are so alike, I would have been wide eyed awake and having a mild panic attack worrying about the door..
    Partner gets an A+ for the lovely casserole waiting for you ..That’s as good as a written note :-)


    • It’s around 175kms. It’s around a two and a half or three hour drive depending on traffic, and going at around 80/90kms an hour (50/60 mph in old money). The bus journey is 2.40/3 hours from La Linea to Málaga, and then another hour to my pueblo, and of course there is the waiting to factor in. Plus 30/40 minutes walk from the flat to La Linea, and ten minutes to the finca. Door to door using public transport it becomes five hours :(

      I think my ‘jaunts’ are fascinating because they are never the same, although I worry that they may sound it to others, so thanks for that :)

      I wish I’d never thought about it. It was a no-win scenario as I couldn’t have left the door open overnight!! but once it was in my head about being stuck inside, I just couldn’t get rid of it. I didn’t want to start opening the door at 3am, the neighbours would have got up thinking I was being burgled, and despite telling myself it would be ok (it was), it didn’t make me go back to sleep.

      I’d told him I wanted cauliflower soup but he cooked the cauli the night before. I’d still have wanted casserole as well (greedy me) so it was a perfect choice. I told him about your post on letters, and he said he didn’t write, and never would. He did buy me a Valentine card the first year we met though :)


    • Haha! Yes, you’re right though. If they don’t want to look out of the window, why are they sitting there? Although in later flights, I chose aisle seats, for more leg room, ie tripping up the waiters/resses and easier to get to the toilet. The windows aren’t very big anyway.


  2. LOL :-)

    When we talked about the rejas the other day I totally overlooked the inherent risk of being trapped in the house behind them in the case of fire – doesn’t bare thinking about EEK.

    From the expletives I’m guessing you didn’t have a good day? ;-)


    • Yes, and don’t forget most people in Spain have butane gas for their cooking too … and gas water heaters .. In fact, we would be totally stuffed as the bedroom is behind the kitchen, so no way out. You can’t get insurance without the rejas either.

      Hey I got out of the house and locked it up, so that was good. I just found the curtain twitching antics irritating so I shut myself off to them (with Len Deighton).


  3. (Much of the world seems to live in Goretex?…inserts giggles)
    The door picture is very nice with the texture, colors and contrast with tiles. Nice entrance. This was a real “I Love Lucy” episode! I was really waiting for you to say you climbed that wall.
    THe bus ride is equally comedy series worthy. I hate it when you get there and get settled and then have someone move in right next to you and start doing thing to invade and affect your space. There are lots of seat available, people. And the AC sounds like here – so tired of freezing in warm weather – bound to be bad for the internal clock of the body?
    What a great guy to have warm food ready…(here it would be glad you are home, what’s for dinner)
    Enjoy the day!


    • My Goretex needs reproofing, I really need to order some. But yes, when it rains sub-tropically – what else is better? Actually I sometimes wear a big wool coat and waxed cotton hat which I find as good.

      The door came from the neighbours when they were doing a refurb of the house. it was second-hand to them before that. Good re-use eh? I like it. We had it grey before, but I think we had some green paint kicking around, so green it became.

      The vision of 53-year-old me trying to struggle over a high wall had me in hysterics. I thought all the men next door would be standing on our path with a blanket for me to fall into! I’m glad it didn’t come to that.

      Ah, the bus journey space invasion. Most people are perfectly respectful. The odd chat, but nothing to get in your face. And others?

      I’ve never liked AC. It’s on my top ten list of will never haves, along with a microwave. OK I’ve got a microwave because I inherited it from my mum, but I’ve never used it. When I lived in Sydney it drove me up the wall to have to go to work in the warm, but take enough clothes to wrap up in an office.

      Had to laugh at your comment. I don’t think I’ve ever had that reaction. Although I did warm the casserole and the potatoes up. I figured I could manage that.


  4. What a great story :-)
    It would be an excellent idea for an ‘immediate departure’ queue, it makes perfect sense…..another one for your future employment Ms Travel and Tourism ;-)

    I laughed at your concern over a lock in, but at least you’d got food and good neighbours, can you imagine being in the middle of no where….Hhhmm, perhaps not.

    I laughed even more at partner’s lack of reply, did he think you’d sent the text, then fallen peacefully back into dreamland….though, thinking about it, T wouldn’t even have heard his phone, he turns it off at night.

    As Pmoth has said, 10 out of 10 to partner for preparing the yummy sounding casserole.


    • Cheers V. (Even if you had heard it before ;) )

      It’s hard enough trying to find work in Gib – I’ll never get it at Málaga bus station!

      Actually thinking I had enough food in was a real bonus, although annoying that there was lots of fresh green outside that I couldn’t have got to. In olden days people would have been stocked up with tins of food. Interesting that all the dried food that is part of our diet was enough to keep me going for a week (or more). Oh, and I had some grapes soaked in anis too!

      I laughed when I found out he had read it when I’d sent it and it kept him awake too :D

      We were both exhausted – presumably with the stress – so it was just perfect to walk in to a lovely meal.


  5. I enjoyed reading your story about your discomfort with several things you recounted. Does that make me perverse?

    Like you I find people who invade my space in public conveyances when they could easily seat themselves elsewhere to be annoying. The bit about the window shades being drawn back and forth would have truly peeved me off. I imagined a conversion that went like this.

    “No don’t close it. I like to see where I’m going. I have a sunhat and sunglasses so I can do that. Where are yours?”

    P.S. I’m also in love with a man who can cook and can’t imagine even entertaining the notion of being with one who couldn’t and doesn’t.


    • Thanks TT and I don’t think so. It’s a light-hearted post and I hope people enjoy reading it.

      I began to wonder how much farther back down the bus I might need to sit to avoid people faffing around with curtains in MY space. And I do like to see where I am going. I like looking out of the window, one of the advantages of public transport that you can look around, compared with driving where you have to concentrate on what you are doing. In fact, because the sun is low now and not that strong, you don’t need anything. It was nice and warm and golden and not too bright. Pulling the curtains – plus the AC – made it freezing.

      Some people can’t cook, because they aren’t good at it eg the friend above, whose husband cooks better. But everyone should know how to do something, however basic, it’s hardly difficult. A bit like sewing on buttons (he used to do that when I first met him, although I tend to do it these days). But yes, a non-cooking partner is a non-starter.


  6. I read this post early this morning but had to run off, so I’ve enjoyed it again now at a more leisurely pace. It is truly a wonderful narrative. It engaged me so because I felt like I was there, and the photos helped with that as well.
    We have door issues at TA… and our doors are nowhere near as beautiful as your door. One day we will rectify them but there are more serious issues that need to be sorted before we can do the doors. If I was ever there on my own, I’d have trouble. I just keep ignoring it as there’s nothing we can do.
    I think though it was only fair [& hilarious] you shared your dilemma with Partner regardless of the hour of morning.
    Fellow commuters… I only go a short distance these days but there are still incidents. Longer travel can be very painful, same scenarios – hot, cold and self absorbed.
    I’m not going to comment on men who cook until I read the Clouds post :)


    • Thanks ED. I often read posts once, and then read them with more time later the better to think about them. If you felt you were there, then as a writer, I achieved something.

      I’m guessing your doors are wooden too as it looks like a timber-framed house? We do occasionally talk about changing our doors, but …. Ours is fine in summer when it is dry, and there is only so much you can shave off the edge without leaving a gaping hole when it dries out. It shot up the priority list for changing after my early morning text, but hopefully it will shoot back down again come summer.

      Yeah commuters huh. Don’t you love someone else’s choice in music too?

      The Clouds post is up as I’d written it and then decided to post about reactions to the shooting instead. Easy blogging for once.


  7. The curse of the curtains….on the cross frontier buses to Nicaragua people get aboard and promptly pull the curtains, so now I get the cheapo buses to and from the frontiers where curtains are non existent. I cannot believe people are so soul dead as not to want to see the twin peaks of Omatepe rising out of lake Nicaragua as you pass the frontier….or perhaps they are blotting out the blasted wind,generators that some benighted, corrupt idiot has authorised to be placed on the lakeside.

    Lovely post…I could do with that casserole right now…


    • If people think my life sounds exotic, talking about crossing the border to Nicaragua is even moreso!

      I like to see where I am going. If I don’t want to look, I shut my eyes. And as TT said, a hat and sunglasses would solve everything.

      We have wind turbines on one of our routes too. Prefer them to nuclear power stations though.

      Thanks. And the casserole was extremely delicious. The dog enjoyed a little the next day with his breakfast.


  8. oh, what an adventure! how funny – well, perhaps in hindsight. this would have made some great movie episodes – the panic about being locked in, and then the bus curtain issue.
    and hurray for your partner and the lovely casserole! i agree with V, that’s a 10 out of 10 for sure!
    your concern about the front door was a very real one. and yet it reminds me of a locked-in episode while on a roadtrip which felt just as real at the time about 100 years ago or so, more or less. in any case, i was young enough not to know any better, or so my excuses go. :)
    it happened in the car itself which belonged to the father of the friend who was driving, and it was one of those large newly-fangled automatic sedan-style American cars of the late 80’s which automatically gave a verbal message after the key was inserted into the ignition. “All monitoring systems are functioning”. in fact i heard it so often on that trip that i have never forgotten it, and i can still remember the sound of that deep male voice, and the emphasis it placed on the word “all”. a car that i could somehow never imagine you or A or even Pippa stepping into. :)
    the windows opened and shut automatically at the push of a button, and after the car initially accelerated, all the doors became securely locked. a lovely security measure. it was all quite entertaining, and very comfortable for highway driving. until we came to a stop at the five-hour mark of our drive of 6-ish hours.
    two of my friends had stepped out of the car for an errand enroute, and the other friend and i decided to stay inside. it was already quite late, and the wait was going to be just a short one before we carried on our way again. besides, we were only about an hour away from our ultimate destination. so we sat in the car, and all was well.
    all of a sudden it occurred to me that i was in a locked car together with another human being, which meant that two of us were sitting there, breathing, and consuming the oxygen supply. we were still ok for some time, but who knew when it would run out. the windows, of course, were locked, all nicely automatically, so there was no way of opening them for some fresh air with the motor turned off.
    the car had been automatically locked from the outside. i had heard the click, and here we were. i began to consume even more oxygen in big anxious gulps as the panic grew. my friend who was with me was still recovering from jet lag from an overseas flight and had seen me trying to open the windows to no avail, and had also heard the car locks engage, and simply took my word for it when i voiced my fear that we had been locked in, with no fresh supply of oxygen. in the meantime the return of our friends from their errand was taking longer than expected.
    i don’t know who thought of it first, but finally, in a desperate attempt which i was quite sure would be unsuccessful, i remember trying desperately to open the car door, fully expecting it not to budge. it opened immediately of course, and also remember the sense of relief i felt to this day.
    as we stepped out of the car, deeply inhaling the fresh air, and laughing about how unnecessary the worry had been, the other two friends were almost done. they returned to the car. the ignition started, and sure enough we were reminded once again, “all monitoring systems are functioning”.


    • I think your story would have been quite frightening. I wouldn’t have thought so much about the lack of oxygen, just that (as above) I was imprisoned. What would have happened if the engine has spontaneously combusted? (as they do :D ) and loads of other improbable scenarios would have gone through my head.

      Glad it all ended up happily ever after, a bit like my unnecessary panicking.


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