Travel Mishaps and Signs from the Universe
I'll begin from the beginning.
I spent most of last week in Sevilla, as you know, basking in the sunshine and lounging in parks and so on, and then I went back to Córdoba for a few days. I bought a flight to Amsterdam out of Málaga, a city on the southern coast of Spain, since that was the cheapest way to get there from Andalucía. Rather than sleep in Málaga the night before my flight, I opted to stay in Córdoba and take an early train the next morning to make my 11:35 takeoff time.
This morning arrived, and I moved slowly enough that I missed the first train to Málaga. That's fine, I thought, I'll just take the one that leaves an hour later; it's a smaller travel window but I'll still get to the airport in time for my flight.
If my life was a television sitcom, this would be the point in the episode where the director cuts to a scene of me arriving at the Córdoba Central station, looking on in horror as the 8:55 train to Málaga pulled away just as I arrived at the security checkpoint for my platform.
My knee-jerk reaction when I'm low on resources is to panic. This morning, I had barely slept, I had just said a painful goodbye, and I hadn't had any coffee yet. My brain automatically tries to hand over the steering wheel to my anxiety in situations like this one, and nothing good happens after that. I sat down on a cold metal seat in the terminal and wanted to cry. I slumped with my backpack still strapped to my back, feeling foolish and looking like a forlorn snail.
Luckily, my pull-yourself-together-you're-an-adult instinct kicked in and I recognized that I needed to do something other than sit on a bench and feel sorry for myself if I actually wanted to get to Amsterdam at some point. The missed train was a sunk cost - cheers to the Renfe staff for at least pretending to feel bad about telling me so - and there was no other way I could make it to my flight in time. A quick search of flight options from both Málaga and Madrid to Amsterdam this afternoon revealed all of them to be prohibitively expensive. It turned out that cheapest option was to take the exact same budget airline flight tomorrow, so I sat down at the café in the train station, ordered an espresso to fire up my synapses, and bought the ticket. It turned out to be the same price to change my flight as to just buy the new one, and between the plane and the train tickets I lost more money today than I care to remember.
My ego was more bruised than my wallet, though, as I had to tell several different people that I was not in fact going to make it to Amsterdam today. I've mentioned before that I'm a natural planner. I'm highly organized, and even more so because my anxiety dictates that I check my passport and valuables at least three times before walking out the door to travel somewhere. This is the first time I've ever missed a train or flight due to my own mistakes, and to say it bothered me was an understatement. I felt similarly uncomfortable when I changed my plans last week and didn't go to Berlin. I hate changing plans when the change affects other people; it makes me feel selfish and unworthy of their kindness.
Ultimately, though, this and many other travel mishaps that I'm sure will happen to me in the future are no big deal. I lost some money that I can recoup by working harder and spending less. I wounded my pride by failing to manage my time, but if that means I'm getting comfortable with planning less, then I could even reframe this as a (costly, embarrassing) victory over my inner control freak. I've been fighting her for years, so maybe this is a battle won in that particular war. There's no use in getting hung up on what's in the past and can't be changed. With that in mind, I trudged back into town with my backpack, went back to the café I've frequented daily since coming to Córdoba, and ordered a "super coffee," which was massive by Spanish standards but looked like a regular American-style soy latte to me.
After my decision about Berlin, I joked that Spain has trapped me within its borders. Córdoba in particular has encircled me in a sweet but unrelenting embrace, since this is the third time I'm back in this beautiful city. Despite the role of human error and emotions, the events of the past month are enough to make me believe that the universe wants me to stay in Spain. One of my best friends commented that misadventures like the one I had today are signs from the universe, and she's not wrong. I'm still going to the Netherlands tomorrow, of course, and will go on to Italy before returning to Spain. But so much has conspired to keep me here thus far that I have to conclude some sort of mysterious force is at work.
Whether that force is my subconscious or a gravitational pull tugging me back to the ground here, I can't say, but I do know that every day I develop a stronger sense of having unfinished business in Spain. For that reason, I'm thinking that I need to take advantage of my visa and stay for a while. But, you know, after I go to a few more destinations. I hope.