Unfortunate Statistics

The Year of Travel Disasters, Part 2

Subject: Stuck in España
From: Rory Ewins
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2010 23:15:18 +0100

Hi folks,

Well, it had to happen sometime: after countless flights over many years, we are suddenly an Unfortunate Statistic, three of the 100,000 people stranded outside the UK by the volcanic ash from Iceland. Our flight home from our visit to S. and E. in Spain was supposed to be at 11.10 on Thursday; the text cancelling it came through at 5 a.m. At least I read it rather than bundling us all into the car back to Alicante airport and returning the vehicle before realising.

We rebooked for today and extended the car rental; and when it became clear last night that nothing was happening today, we grabbed one of the last remaining EasyJet flights next Monday, taking a punt before they actually cancelled the Friday flight; which they did; and now there are no flights available to Scotland before next weekend, so that was wise. Of course, there may still be no flight on Monday. Fingers crossed for a change in wind direction over the Hebrides.

Fortunately we’re in a family holiday home in the mountains of Murcia, rather than holed up in some awful Costa hotel, so it could be worse. Feeling a bit awkward, stuck here after we’d had our fun and said our goodbyes, but if the volcano keeps it up we’ll all be in the same boat soon enough. Not sure what we’ll do then. We’re thinking that if Monday’s flight doesn’t happen we’ll start the long trek overland by train or perhaps hire car (if we can find somewhere to do a one-way), which will probably take 3-4 days if we’re lucky. No problem extending our current car hire again to Monday, at least—the rental place no doubt had dozens of cancelled bookings from Brits who can’t get here.

Certainly an unexpected addition to the trip. We’d had a fun time here with S. and E. and F. (who just had his second birthday). It was sunny on Sunday and Monday, misty/overcast on Tuesday and Wednesday. We didn’t go terribly far afield, just into the nearest largish town a few times (Pinoso) and to a nearby village or two. It’s a very rural and quiet area, all almond trees, vineyards, olives and white marble quarries. Also fields of solar power arrays. One interesting sight was a few abandoned cave houses a few km away. Pinoso has a few old buildings in the centre but we’ve spent more time in the park with William and F. Eating out has been limited to cafes, but we’ve made up for it by cooking proper Spanish food for dinner at home; I made a rabbit, lentil and eggplant stew that was a big hit. The rabbits from the butcher came almost complete, apart from skin and intestines—the butcher scooped out the eyes before handing it over, but I had to cut off the heads, remove the livers etc. A change of pace from sterile UK supermarket packaging.

Yesterday, with our unexpected bonus day, we all (apart from Jane, who stayed behind to catch up on some urgent work) squeezed into one car and drove to the beach on the coast, which took twice as long to drive there and back as we ended up spending on the beach. It was fun, except I dropped my camera in the unusually fine sand, which got into the mechanism and wrecked it. It worked for a day (today), all the while making horrible grinding noises, but now it’s finally died; the lens barrel won’t retract. A great loss, as it’s my single favourite piece of technology I’ve owned in the past few years. At least I can make an insurance claim, seeing that it happened on holiday, and seeing that we’ll be making one anyway. [2012: No, I couldn’t.]

Today Jane and I went off by ourselves with William to give S. and E. some breathing space, and drove to another town not too far away, called Jumilla, dominated by a big castle on a hill (closed until Monday, sadly). We had a nice time wandering around the older part of town, and William enjoyed a park or two. Then we headed back here mid-afternoon, and he had a monster nap. S. and E., meanwhile, headed to another town they hadn’t seen yet, and have stayed on there for a late Spanish dinner, so Jane and I have had some time to catch up on emails etc. Only a little—lots of work waiting for us when we get home, whenever that ends up being.

If we do end up having to hit the road on Monday, I’ll let you know. We have our mobile phones with us, if you need to get in touch for any reason; I guess email could become difficult.

20 February 2012 · Travel