The following is a diary entry I wrote in March 2017 after leaving my job in London and trying out a new life in Spain.
The 31st of March 2017 is a day I won’t forget in a hurry, but will certainly try my best to do so. The day began early - and when I say early, I mean not early for everyone else in the world who has to get up and go to work, but early for two unemployed drifters on a prolonged holiday in Spain. We’re talking 7am. We shower, eat cereal, get dressed, I leave half a mug of tea on the side; the usual routine. We then leave the house and begin the five mile walk to Orgiva to catch the 10:30 bus to Granada. We give ourselves the recommended 1 hour and 50 minutes according to Google Maps to reach our intended destination, knowing that from our journey two nights beforehand, it takes us a little less time than that.
The walk was satisfactory. It felt quicker than the nighttime hike, perhaps because we could now see where we were walking and that we were knee-deep in discussion about England’s public schooling structure, as well as recounting tales of when we both used to work in pubs. We slept on the bus, I dreamed an unpleasant dream about my mother dying followed by another, separate dream about green beans. From Granada we took another bus journey, this time all the way to Malaga Airport. Apparently there are no direct routes from Orgiva to Malaga Airpot, so we had to travel north before being able to head south, much to our irritation.
It was at Malaga Airport that we would then collect a car, of which belonged to the owner of the house we were now staying in. The car had been offered beforehand, but it was only when we realised how much effort it would take to carry a weekly food shop five miles back through the Sierra Nevada mountainscape in the blistering heat, that we decided to go through with it.
There’s nothing more awkward than two young Brits trying to convince a Spanish long-stay carpark service at the BP petrol station next to Malaga Airpirt that they should let us to drive off with one of the cars, with no note or proof that we were we had permission to do so. “What car is it?” they asked, “we don’t know” we replied. And we really did not know, we had travelled for hours on the pretense that they would just let us off with one of their vehicles and that it had all been pre-arranged. It didn’t take long to convince them though - onlyaround 10 minutes - before we were stalling our way out of the vicinity in a large 4x4 that Rudy had never driven before in his life, on his third day of driving since passing his test.
The journey was smooth, despite the circumstances. The motorway is simple enough, and the winding hillside bends that followed seemed like a doddle compared to the journey in the car rental two days prior. But of course, this day could not have been complete without some significant cock up that would warrant a post of its own. We’d travelled so far, we’d came all the way to Malaga Airport for Christ’s sake.
There’s only one thing that’s going to happen to you if you drive a car that doesn’t belong to you, and you don’t get yourself insured. You’re going to crash. It’s just a fact, and one we refused to acknowledge until we did exactly that. Crash. Somewhere in the desperate search for petrol on Orgiva’s first day of Holy Week, we ended up corned by the narrowest corridor of a road in the centre of town, surrounded by Spanish locals; a couple of men, a handful of kids. In a panic of realising we should never have brought a car of this size to this route, surrounded by onlookers and no real knowledge of how to escape it, we stalled. The natural reaction to stalling in front of an audience - a scenario we’d come to know all too well in the the days that led up to this event - is to start the engine and get out of there as soon as fucking possible. And naturally, that’s exactly what we did, meanwhile tearing up the front-right of the car as it dragged against the white wash walls of Orgiva, which suddenly transformed into the last place on Earth we wanted to be. The sound of it - my memory of it fills me with dread. A hundred years could have passed in those three seconds. The ears to my subconscious heard car-parts falling to the cobbled ground, children screaming in shock. In the sheer horror of it, and in true British form, we accelerated down the new route faster than a jackrabbit, not stopping to apologise to the owners of the property we collided with, or to collect the debris of our self-inflicted disaster.