Saturday, April 8, 1989

A Detour Through The Twilight Zone (The Journey from Madrid to Hull, Part One) ...

I didn't think I'd have a more bizarre traveling experience then the one I had when J.P. and I were trapped in Perth back on Dec. 30. I was wrong.

Oh, it started out fine... very sad, but fine. And then it got frustrating. Viv and I woke up a little before noon. Late, true, but long before everyone else in the flat. I packed my bags while Viv made us some food.

At a little before one, I said farewell to Liz (the only other person who woke up before I left). She was very sweet - gave me a hug and tearfully said "Aw, you're my friend, Rick." Very touching. Then Viv and I caught the Metro for my last trip. After that stop, we walked to the area where we caught the bus to the airport, and our timing was quite good.

We got off the bus, found my terminal, and checked in without any problems. I bought a newspaper and sat with Viv awhile, until the last moment when I couldn't stay there any longer.

Viv and I said our tearful goodbye. I hope to God she is able to come to America this summer.

That's when things started going a little... funny.

While in the terminal at Madrid Airport (right), waiting to take the same flight as me were most of the European Business Students (like Viv, only in reverse) from Spain where were actually heading back to Humberside College in Hull. What are the odds on that occurring?

Nothing too thrilling to report about the flight, though I should say something, considering how much I had to pay out of my budget for the trip. It was pleasant, and the food was pretty good as well.

My plan was to meet up with J.P. after our flight arrived at Gatwick Airport south of London. J.P. was staying with his girlfriend Sid in Kent, outside London, and I was going to be staying at her house overnight, since my bus ticket is for Sunday. I had sent J.P. a postcard with my flight time, number, terminal, so he knew where to meet me.

That was the plan, anyway.

Well I arrived at Gatwick (right) and checked through with no problems. However, no sign of J.P. No worries at this point, though. After awhile, I decided to grab the Gatwick Express train back up to Victoria Station. Once I arrived there, I struggled to put my bag into a locker there, and at that point called Sid's house. No one was in. Hmm, that's odd. But no worries, I can try again later.

I went and grabbed some dinner at the nearby McDonald's, then came back to the public phone booth and called Sid's house again. Still not in.

Then I made what turned out to be a mistake. I decided to take a chance and go out to Sid's house on my own. So I purchased a one-way ticket to Longfield, and took the train out with the hopes that they were just out for a little while, and that I would catch them by the time I got there.

So when I arrived at the stop after a 45-minute train ride, I made the walk to Sid's house (click on the map to see where her house is in relation to the train station). No luck. The house was dark, and no one was home. Still, it wasn't terribly late, so I decided to wait a little while to see if they came back home.

But after waiting around for awhile, it started to seem more and more likely like they weren't coming back. Perhaps they forgot, or perhaps J.P. never got the post card. So I had two choices, continue waiting and risk being stuck outside in the country all night, or catch the late train back to London and take my chances there, where I could at least go inside some places if it got too cold.

I wrote a note to J.P. and Sid telling them that I had been there, but that I decided to take the train back into London. So I trekked back to the station, where I waited just under an hour for the 11.18 train to London. During this time I was annoyed by three pestering kids hanging about, who fortunately left fairly soon after. There was one other girl there at the station who for some reason found it difficult to believe that I was telling her the truth that this train goes to London.

By now, as I rode on that train back to Victoria Station, I was starting to feel more and more like Griffin Dunne in "After Hours," wondering where Sid and J.P. were, and where exactly was I going to stay, and what I was going to eat, since I had very little money on me. As I thought more and more about my situation, I resigned myself to realizing that this was going to be a long, long night.

The saga continues tomorrow.

(Editor's note: This was the last time I saw Liz, although we did send letters periodically to one-another for a few years afterward. I have since lost contact with her. The same is true of all of the other students I knew and lived with while I stayed in Spain... except, of course,Viv.)

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