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thoughts & musings :: CCC

Saturday, 15 October 2005

Maspalomas diary 02 - Preparations & Departure

Phrase books have come on a long way since I last bought one, which wasn't all that long ago. But I seem to remember they were always full of phrases like "How much is that cactus?" and "My donkey will not fit through the hotel doors."

Now they seem to be actually geared towards the society we live in and so there is a 2 page section on useful phrases during sex, assuming that a lot of people want to leap off the plane and leap upon as many locals as their legs will fit around.

The sex section in our phrase book covers useful conversations pieces such as "faster" "harder" "slower" "I can't get it up, sorry" "Don't worry, I'll do it myself" "Touch me here" "Do you like this?" "I don't like that" and "I think we should stop now."

The guidebook also talks at length about the large area of sand dunes near the beach and lets anyone interested know that camel rides are available from one side to the other.

It also points out that the dunes are a haven for gay men. This makes it sound like there's a permanent herd of gay men that live wildly in the dunes and get regularly rounded up by wardens on camels.

What do gay men eat in the wild?... no, don't answer that.

I am concerned about getting to Gatwick in time. Several accidents have already come and gone on Junction 7 of the M25 and have caused delays. Our flight leaves at 20:15 and so we backtrack all the necessary check-ins and putting the car into long stay parking and work out we should have left Friday.

We then have a recount and I settle on a time that allows just over an hour to get there. All it takes is for the radio to suddenly announce that the entire motorway has turned over and all the cars are now upside down under the tarmac and you know you're in for a long wait.

We get into the car.

25 minutes later we get out of the car at the long stay car park outside Gatwick. Hayley didn't enjoy the journey at all.

I did.

I walk into the reception at and approach the desk. The first thing the girl behind the desk says to me is "bar ear tear cut." Her accent is mostly Scots (very comic Scots at that) although it almost seems to wander off into Newcastle and occasionally dabble in a bit of Irish.

Whatever her accent, I have no idea what she is talking about. We have not even got anywhere near an airplane and already I'm having difficulty understanding the locals. I give her a blank bemused look.

"Bar ear tear cut," she barks again.

Is this a word association game? Bar and Ear both end in 'ar' as does Tear although it's one letter longer. Though Cut throws any pattern out completely. I stick to the blank bemused look.

She sighs. It's a sigh that tells me that she's had a bad day and that no one has understood her since she started work earlier that morning. "Win ya keer pool tup it tha bar-ear, ya got a tear-cut oot oh tha mushin."

So I did. I give her my barrier ticket.

"Whoos are ya fleeing wid?"

Good question. We booked through, got our accommodation through, transfer through wait a minute, weren't First Choice mentioned somewhere in the mix? Are they an Airline? I have no idea. I give her another blank look and then turn to consult Hayley.

"Hayley, do you know who..."
"Nooth ar sooth toominal?" she interrupts, not wanting to entertain me for any longer than necessary.
"North" I answer.

She prepares the documents and hands them to me. I walk away, already chuckling.

Everything proceeds through with uncharacteristic ease. One of the First Choice guys, seeing there's just the two of us, opens up check in desk just for us and then shuts it again as soon as he's finished. The flight and transfer all go without a hitch.

We wander into the reception at the Dunaflor Apartments in Maspalomas and collect our key for number 2082.

It's 2:00 am and it's hot. Stifling hot. Time to open the windows and balcony door. Hayley opens the door and the right window but the left window is very stiff. I take over. I yank the window hard and there is a clunk followed by the tinkling sound of metal components giving way.

Problem one solved -- the window is open. problem two -- the window will now not shut or lock. The runner mechanisms have run into the wrong parts of the frame and it's all gone a bit pear-shaped.

I try to fix it with a spoon.

The knife didn't work either.

Time to try out my ability to memorise phrases from a phrasebook. I look up 'the window is broken,' and then pay a visit to reception.

"Perdon. No funciona la ventana."

The night porter is watching a very bad and cheap Spanish cop film. Two of the actors are currently over hamming a tense scene in an alleyway. The night porter manages to break away from his viewing to say "Tomorrow morning," and then resumes watching.

"Tomorrow morning?' I repeat, as if it was unintelligible Spanish.
"Tomorrow morning," he restates, confirming my own grasp of my mother tongue.

I can see I'm not going to get anywhere and so leave.

The window will push to and it can wait till the morning. I return to find an update from Hayley on our home to be for the next week. The toilet does not flush. There's a tap thing on the side that turns and makes a sounding of rushing water somewhere inside the wall and causes drips to fall into the bowl, but the cistern will not fill up and the flush pushes limply and does nothing. I consult the phrase book and revisit the night porter.

"Hola. No funciona la retrete."
"La retrete?"
"Yes. The toilet will not flush."
He turns to see a particularly dull car chase is ensuing on the TV set and then turns back to me. "Tomorrow morning."
"Tomorrow morning? La retrete?"
"Tomorrow morning."

The car chase has upped a gear to new heights of tacky dullness. Like the film's director, I am going to get nowhere. I leave.

Fortunately a coffee percolator full of water does the same job as a flush. It's a little mediaeval but it works.

In frustration at the night porter I bend the window mechanism with my bare hands and fix it.


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