Saturday, May 10, 2008

Train ride to Sitges

In our touristic ignorance, Jelani and I arrived at the train station late in the afternoon, after a leisurely morning of breakfast and packing. 
We approached the information counter in confusion, with fists full of money prepared to pay for our one-way tickets. "Es siempre gratis," the man informed us. "Free?" I repeated in English. The man stared at my forehead until I smiled and asked him in Spanish to write down the platform number on a museum pass flyer.
When we finally worked our way through the maze-like station to our platform, we found ourselves amongst a crowd of maybe, 100- maybe 125 European's also intent on traveling to Sitges. What a bummer. Jelani and I looked down at my bag where my laptop fit snugly inside, full of Smallville episodes we'd uploaded for the 40 minute train ride. I sighed and readjusted the bag on my shoulder for the long ride ahead.
As soon as I spotted the train coming through the tunnel, unlike my gentle, polite husband, I charged and elbowed my way to the front of the crowd, prepared to "accidently" step on anyone I needed to in order to reserve two seats. Unfortunately, my ambition was ill appreciated. 
It's here I must remind you that the Spanish, though boney and half-starved on flavorless tapas, are a less than delicate society. While I have grown accustomed to their insistent jostling in the street, as well as their primitive costumer service, I was shocked to feel my own limbs and feet trampled upon while boarding. Still, I managed to get on only after 8 others.
Feeling victorious, I stepped onto the train. I looked around. Oh crap, I thought, as I realized that every seat was already taken. Those who boarded before me were crowding into the isles, searching for a single, square foot of standing room. We were going to have to stand the entire ride. 
I turned around and spotted Jelani just stepping onto the train with our suitcase in tow. He squeezed in next to me, where I stood cornered between two old Spanish men and their large bags of luggage. I smiled bravely.
After exactly 7 minutes and one stop later, I gave up on the hope that an upcoming stop would relieve us of all other passengers, leaving us to our own, private car, and quickly made up my mind to enjoy the trip. This meant that I would have to quickly adapt to the thick odor of hot, pressing bodies, the distinct smell of catalan crackers on a stranger's breath and slightly damp air of perspiration given off by the gentleman who's arm stretched out over top my shoulder in order to grasp a handrail. This meant I would have to ignore the villainous cackle of two plump, french women and their rowdy children. 
I concentrated on a pale skinned woman reading a book and pictured myself sprawling freely overtop two, better yet, three empty seats. That's the only proper way to read on trains, I thought to myself. I imagined the envious, neighboring passengers who would puzzle at the english-filled pages of my book. A few others would recognize the name, Hemmingway, enscribed on the cover and scoff at the thought of an educated American. They would gasp at the unsightly glare of my white socks peaking out from blue jeans. (Spaniards all wear dark socks you know.) However, once the pale skinned woman begin to reach for her nostril (with no attempt at discretion) my daydream came to an end.
I turned my attention back to my husband, who stood in an unfortunate position, unable to change his footing, straight across from catalan-cracker man, whom I could still hear smacking behind me. 
When the 45 minute train ride finally came to an end, we stepped off the train I immediately began my detailed impression of the car and it's passengers. When I began to describe the noisy, cracker man, Jelani interupted me however. Donuts, he corrected me, he was eating donuts.

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