Eventually my number was called. I was ecstatic; the last train of the day running from Madrid to Oviedo was set to leave in just over an hour. But knowing my luck, this wasn’t the case. I went up to the ticket counter, and they say that the entire train was sold out of seats. I found out later from my friends in Madrid that the train left an hour late and was nowhere near open. Whatever, I’m flexible! I ask if there’s any way I could get to Oviedo that same night. So I bought a ticket from Madrid to Leon, which is just south of Oviedo, with the idea that I could buy a bus ride from Leon to Oviedo.
Two hours later I nearly miss my train because Spanish conductors are crazy. Anyways, I do make it and I sit on the train, looking out the window and just looking back at my adventure so far. Looking at the clock, I realized that I had a 5 hour train ride ahead of me. Four stops later, I finally had a stroke of luck. This group of six elderly ladies walked onto the train and sat across the aisle from me. They were talking loudly, as excited old ladies do sometimes, joking with each other laughing and having a generally good time. I put in my headphones and try to look out the window. If you know me, though, you know that I can only be entertained by music for a finite amount of time. Eventually I take out my headphones and look around. At that point in time, one of the ladies asks me (in Spanish) if they were being too loud for me. Even though I am told that I am incredibly proficient in speaking Spanish, I was doubting myself. Could have had to do because I was grumpy, tired and hungry now that I think about it.
Luckily I answer her, and then began the fastest 3 travel hours that I have ever experienced! We joked, laughed, questioned and generally had a good time. I got to try some chocolate from Leon (only slightly better than Hersheys (that was sarcasm)), they gave me a bottled water and some Pringles. I was so hungry and I was finally in such a good mood that I accepted them and enjoyed talking to them. Luckily they were going to Leon also, turns out they all lived there!
At the end of the train ride, one of them turns to me and asks me my name. When I say “Chris” they all crack up like it’s the funniest thing that they’d ever heard! When I asked them why they were laughing, they say that the word “Chris” has a double meaning in Leon. In that part of Spain, if someone says “Ay Chris” it apparently means that they are getting exasperated or they’re tired of some predicament. I laughed; it was absolutely perfect for my situation!
When we’re getting ready to get off the train, one of the ladies reaches into her purse and pulls out two what I assumed to be pastries and two apples. She told me that because my Spanish was good enough and because I’d entertained them for 3 hours that I deserved some true Spanish food. I thanked them gladly and got off the train behind them. They pointed me in the direction of the bus stop and waved me off.
* * *
Will one of Chris’s new abuelitas turn out to be his fairy godmother? Does he FINALLY make it to Oviedo, 57 years after he left Minneapolis? So far Chris’s journey to Spain has included cars, planes, trains, and [spoiler alert, he’s about to get on] a bus…will the last leg of his journey involve a boat? Stay tuned for the FINAL installment of “¡Ay Chris!”…