Friday, 2 March 2012

'Cuatro Horas En El Autobús'

I took a flight to Lisbon last weekend (blog on the trip forthcoming!) and my book of choice on my way to Barajas was 'A Week At The Airport' by Alain De Botton. I quite liked the idea of him taking up residence in an international hub, observing the people (I worked for a brief stint in Glasgow Airport and can attest to the fact that some of them are very, erm, interesting characters) and learning what their behaviour tells us about life. Unfortunately though, I didn't spend long enough in Barajas to make any witty observations about it, I just spent four hours on a bus getting there.

The PLM (Pamplona – Logroño – Madrid) bus line is the cheapest and most convenient option for me to get to the Spanish capital. At just under 30 Euros per a return  ticket, I can afford to hop down for the weekend or book flights from Barajas without breaking the bank, and the four hour journey is just about bearable if I'm adequately equipped for it.   

I equipped myself for my last journey with the following things:

  1. An uncontrollable urge to sleep, owing to having to get up at 6am to catch the bus.
  2. A book to read when it turned out that I would repeatedly wake myself up from bouts of fitful sleep by smacking my head against the window.
  3. A cheap new mp3 player which will never replace my beloved iPod, complete with a 'relaxing playlist' which (infuriatingly) cannot be played in anything but alphabetical order.
  4. A pen and paper, just in case I had any ground breaking ideas during the journey. (I didn't.)
  5. A nutricious breakfast of two magdalenas and a bottle of Lemon Kas.

We set off at 7.15 and the first thing I noticed was that the opening scenes of 'Apocalypse Now' were being shown on the screen in front of me. Slightly disconcerting. My hazy, morning brain then realised that my bus driver friend had given me a copy of the very same book to read, and I wondered if it was a strange co-incidence or if Spanish bus companies have some sort of affiliation with the apocalypse. Even more disconcerting.

So I shut my eyes to block out the scenes of destruction in front of me and managed to fall asleep for a little while, propped against a makeshift pillow fashioned from my scarf. Happily, I am fortunate enough to be one of those people who can sleep just about anywhere, but sleeping in places other than a bed often comes at a price. After an hour, I felt like I'd been beaten up – I had a crick in my neck, a pain in my back and a sore head from its repeated contact with the window.

When it became apparent that sleeping more wasn't a very good idea, I tried to eat my 'breakfast' without the bus driver seeing me in his mirror and without getting crumbs everywhere. That was a fail on both accounts.

Next, I got my book out and tried to concentrate on reading. Some of the information on Heathrow Airport I was learning was interesting stuff, but my little book had pictures and the woman next to me was reading the Spanish Penal Code. It was time to jump on a more intellectual bandwagon.

'I know', I thought, 'this crappy mp3 player does have one saving grace, it came pre-loaded with the “Complete Works of Shakespeare.”' Geeky as it sounds, I've always wanted to say I've read everything he wrote, particularly the sonnets. (I studied sonnet 18 in high school and fell ever-so-slightly in love with him.)

So I fired up the music player, searched through some folders and brought up sonnets 1-10 on the tiny little screen.

Sonnet 1

* scroll *

'From fairest creatures

* scroll *

we desire increase

* scroll*

 That thereby beauty's

                                                 * scroll *
                                                                  rose might never die...'

And that was about as far as I got before I gave up and went back to sleep again until we pulled up in Avenida de Americas.


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