You do remember The Dream of the Vuelta, right? That is what inspired all this to begin with! You shouldn’t just dream the dream, but live the dream, I say! So today was a day for us to go shopping for Curt’s bike. He had already done some investigating via the internet before we left for Spain and found several bike stores in Cartagena, which is a town on the eastern coast of Spain about an hour away. If it seems like every place I write about is “about an hour away” it is true. The location of our Spanish casa is great! You can draw a radius of an hour’s drive in all directions and will find yourself on multiple beaches, in the mountains, at a lake, in the desert, at a nature park, or at a ski resort. It just depends which direction you choose to travel.
We headed to Cartagena, armed with the addresses of three bike shops. Two were in what is called the polígono industrial or industrial park, which you will find on the outskirts of towns. This is where you find larger stores that are selling construction materials, big furniture stores, or car dealers. How hard could it be to find giant stores on the outskirts of a town??… insert ominous music here..
Suffice it to say that addresses plus able bodied intelligent people plus stupid phone that keeps rebooting every single time you try to access a map does not equal happiness. Quite the contrary. It equals frustration and lots of it. I was inclined to search the outskirts of the town, thinking that a giant industrial zone might be easier to spot than a shop in the old downtown area, but who am I to deprive Curt of the fun of driving around and around and around this lovely town?
Oh happiness! There is a tourist information center just on the other side of this plaza! But as luck would have it, just as we reach the entrance, the huge metal gate-like doors swing shut, and a booming latch is drawn much like closing up a castle door.
Siesta Time, people! Hasta luego!
Just when we were at the end of our wits, we stopped at a Repsol (gas station) and Curt went in and asked the guy if he had a map of Cartagena. The guy was super nice and gave him what we fondly call a “fun map” of Cartagena. This is a map that shows some streets, but not all, and its main purpose is to show someone the highlights of the town. None of which involve the polígono industrial, of course.
Luckily we were able to somehow piece together bits of the map and believe it or not found the downtown bike shop — just in time for siesta! So it was closed!
Looking through the windows, we could see that they only sold mountain bikes, but as luck would have it, they had a map to their larger store posted on the window! This showed us how to get to the polígono industrial! I took pictures of the map with my fully functioning phone, and then we headed next door to get something to eat, since nothing would be open again until 5:00.
The restaurant next door was called Sabor Andaluz. We ate lomo y patatas y huevos, which was pork loin and potatoes with a fried egg. It was really good. This was not a “touristy” restaurant at all. Lots of Spanish people were there. It was a good place to sit back, have a café con leche, and regroup a little before trying to find this elusive polígono industrial.
While we relaxed with our meal (we had a while before siesta would be over, so why rush?) we noticed this thing that looked like a deposit box of some sort. It was a bit like a mailbox, but it was actually a trash bin. It looked small, but apparently what you put down the slot must fall down into some gigantic bin under the street because people came one after the other dropping in their bags of trash. One guy, who must have been a janitor for some building actually brought cartloads of trash, bags, boxes, etc and it all disappeared into this little drop box. I was so curious as to how large the underground bin was, and how they went about emptying it… Can you tell I was fascinated with this thing??
Stomachs full, and nerves calmed, we hit the road again in search of the bike shop in the polígono industrial. Due to my fantastic co-piloting skills and Curt’s keen ability to navigate the Spanish streets, we managed to find it lickity split. There were two shops in the industrial area, so we visited both, picked out a bike, spoke “cave-man Spanish” to the salesperson, and amazingly enough got everything sorted out to purchase. It was easy as pie! …insert happy music which is followed by screeching halt sound here…
Now, trust me, I am happy to know that credit card companies are on the lookout for thieves and fraudulent activity, BUT when your card is declined after spending an entire day driving around a strange city, having doors literally closed on your nose, getting somewhere only to arrive at a time when the place is closed for two more hours, then finally thinking the whole shopping craziness will soon be over, only to have the guy behind the counter say (and trust me, you know it in any language) “No, the card doesn’t go through,” you want to scream. And I don’t mean stomp your foot and pout — I mean full on scream like in a crazy movie where the camera pans back and you see the windows rattle and people cower.
So yes, this is what we had to deal with next: calling our credit card companies and letting them know they needed to take the blocks off of our cards.
Fast forward to the final scene…