Thursday, April 14, 2011


Toulouse again - written on 3/30

I can be a ditz; I just get caught up in my own reality sometimes . I suppose I have my mom to thank for this – a woman to this day has “black holes” in her geographic memory of an island she's lived on for 25 years. And I'm meaning she sometimes can't remember where to turn on streets she uses nearly every day. My sister and I affectionately call her “Mother Magoo” on the occasions she is thwarted by her own inner brain workings. However, one of the many things travel is teaching me this: I too am a Magoo.

This morning I had a train to catch at 6:54. I woke up to my alarm going off at about 6 am, gathered my things and myself by 6:30, walked to the station at 6:30. Arrived with about 6 minutes to find my platform – all according to plan. Until I realized I couldn't find my platform on the departures board. “Strange” I think. I ask attendants - “oo ay...” (where is...) and point to the train on my ticket. They point me in a direction. But that train isn't my train. I have three minutes to find my train at this point before it departs. I ask the next nearest attendant “oo ay...” she looks at my ticket, looks at the time and tells me in French, “departed” and points to the clock, which SUDDENLY in my mind reads as 7:50 and not 6:50. "How in the world did I do that?” I ask myself out loud while the woman attendant, who, rightfully so, just looks at me since she has no idea what i'm saying and apparently can't be too smart because I can't tell time. I've since figured out what must have happened. See, last night when I was setting my alarm, at the last moment, I set my alarm to 5:59. Why I did this, I can't explain. It's how my odd Becca brain works. I guess I'm bugged by the simplicity of one number. First i set it to 6am, then changed it because it bothered me. However, I didn't set it to 5:59, but 6:59, and then never noticed the difference until it was much too late. I was THWARTED BY MAGOO!!

What is worse is that I had to catch that train to get to Balaguer today – a town about 100 km from Barcelona. It's a one chance per day thing. And I missed it. After missing it, I went to the ticket counter to figure out my options, but I sort of already knew them from my own research. For some reason there are only three trains that can go to Girona daily (oddly). One at 6:17 in the morning, one at 6:54 in the morning, and one at 14:40 in the afternoon. I knew that to get to Balaguer at a good hour for my host there, and not spend 8 hours on the train/bus, My best option is to take a train from Toulouse to Girona (3 hrs) walk around Girona for 4 hours, then take a bus from Girona to Llerida (4 hrs) and then a bus from Llerida to Balaguer (40 mins). Otherwise, i'd have to be in trains and in boring stations for about 8+ hours to get to Barcelona, and then another train or bus from Barcelona to llerida or Balaguer. Which I suppose I could have done, but by the time I talked to the ticket agent, the only trains that would have worked were sold out. I could have spent many hours on a train and been in Barcelona by 8pm, possibly stranded there. Or I could have gone to Perpignon for the night, and then llerida earlier in the day by train, but that would have cost a lot more and been more stressful. So, I decided to save my money and most of my stress, and spend one more day hanging around Toulouse and sleeping on my amazingly generous hosts' couch. This is sort of a wast of a day because I've already seen a great deal of Toulouse, (by scooter and by foot) and it's raining, and there isn't much more I want to do here because I'm a bit bored of walking around European cities...which makes me ask all sorts of questions to myself as to why the heck I'm traveling in the first place if I'm sort of board of walking around European cities (“Why?” I ask myself - because sometimes, like yesterday, it's still awesome and the people and experiences are interesting, and also, why not?) But this extra Toulouse day could possibly throw off my schedule for the week, because I was trying to meet someone on the weekend in Barcelona, and now I don't know if I should spend such a small amount of time at this Balaguer host. Oh, and I get to take the 6:17 train in the morning, which means wake up at 5:20. Awesome. Well, at least I have a great, warm, free nice place to stay with really nice people (and they keep giving me free food too). I may have missed my train, but I had a place to go back to, relax for the day, internet, keys to the apartment, and delicious espresso. Yes I wish I could have moved on, but I'm grateful for the circumstances in which I'm stuck. Traveling certainly keeps you humble and flexible. The trick I think is to stay grateful for too for the things that do work out or/and are still working out even when other things don't.

And it did all work out... After a lovely nap on the comfy couch, I walked around a bit, which was nice and immersing in Frenchness, and the had a great night with Stephanie, just us girls because Niko was working. I made my train the next day, made it to Barcelona, and all was right with my travels once more.... which is most always happens when travels don't go according to plan.

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