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147: Madrid – from hopeful to defeated. 2012/9/25

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[Misc. Madrid images = here.]

This is a day with a dramatic twist, which I really don’t care to savor.

Yesterday afternoon I went to the luggage shop to replace my broken suitcase – I chose a trolley duffel instead of the same trolley suitcase, and fortunately the lady in the shop agreed.  She even speaks English, by the way.  And this morning, after seeing that the duffle is kind of full, I decided to go back to get instead a bigger duffel by Samsonite.  I have to pay a bit extra, but that’s totally fine by me, since I have more faith in Samsonite’s quality control.  To my (slight) annoyance, this Samsonite, which is said to have 15 or more liters of volume than the non-Samsonite I got yesterday, actually seems to be SMALLER.  And the bottom board isn’t a hard one.  I actually couldn’t help but sweat a lot when I tried very hard to squeeze everything in, and after trying for several minutes I finally decided to tell (politely, of course) the two Korean girls dancing to silly Korean pop songs in the room to turn off that noise.

And today is about getting the flight ticket to Bogota – for a second time, that is.  I actually wanted very much to leave this morning, but the ticket for today (Tuesday) is significantly more expensive than the one for tomorrow (Wednesday); besides, Iberia denied both of my credit cards, saying that I have to “manually confirm and complete the purchase process.”  And since this idiotic flight company doesn’t seem to have an office in town, that means I have to travel all the way to the airport.

Yes, I could do that, but this morning I decided to try other methods as well.  I checked Vliegwinkel, and in the end my cards were denied as well.  Luckily the quick-witted Ms Chang was online at the same time, and she told me to try either some local tour agencies or an American website “Cheaptickets.” I tried both, and eventually secured a ticket on the latter.  But this is far from the end of the story.

After getting the new duffel I had to check out and go to a “brother” hostel of the one I had been staying in, since latter was kind of full for today.  There was only internet on the ground floor, but it seems much faster.  And then I had lunch at a place right alongside the tiny square nearby, which tasted really bad.

Although I was a bit tired, I went for a long walk in town: first to the free Caixa Forum, which now held a temporary exhibition of Blake’s art works.  His literary outputs have been an important part of English literature, and it’s very interesting to see what his visions are like as a visual artist, although quite a sizable portion of the works on display turned out to be not that enticing to me.  Some works created by artists inspired by him, mainly the Pre-Raphaelites, on the other hand, are much more interesting.  (And I should know my Pre-Raphaelites!)

After this I wanted to take a main avenue to the Egyptian Temple, but near the Neptune Roundabout I saw mainly protest signs and lots of police officers.  The situation was pretty calm, but I guessed that nothing had commenced by that time, and in any case, protest or not, i never like crowds, so I took various backstreets as the alternative to the main avenue, which was blocked by the police anyway.

After taking a close look to the roofed Market (food prices here are much higher than expected, even though I was told by several different people that it’s “more expensive here”), I continued forward, and I saw a familiar face: it’s Ms Pu from our embassy! She was on a “mission” but happened to have time for a few words with me.

She asked me how I was doing and whether I succeeded in getting the flight ticket to Bogota.  I said yes.  “So when are you leaving?” she asked.  “Tomorrow.”

Upon hearing the answer she almost hopped up.  The truth is,

I sent her an email yesterday, but she had been out of the office and never saw that;

I didn’t think it’s necessary to call my embassy to re-assure that someone calls the Colombian side, but I did anyway this morning.  Some employee answered my call, and I emphasized that someone has to deliver the message to our Colombian embassy so they can provide relative information to the Bogota customs.  This employee never delivered the message.

If it were not that Ms Pu and I bumped into each other by PURE CHANCE, no-one in her embassy would have gotten to know my coming departure in time.

Neither I nor Ms Pu thought it’s an “absolute” necessity to provide relative info to the Bogota customs, but thankfully (a) I was such a careful person that, as soon as I first got out of Madrid customs and met Ms Pu, I suggested that someone should inform the Bogota side, and (b) cautious and understanding as she is, she immediately sent a telegram saying that in a couple of days I would try to enter Colombia again.

And by this point of time, the person in charge of this case in our embassy in Colombia never thought to inform either her or me a very crucial piece of fact.  What is it? Let’s say it’s the crucial element that contributed to my crackdown towards the end of this day.

The Egyptian Temple is a bit far, and since the sky is rather grey today (unlike yesterday when the sky cleared up to a cool, beautiful blue after a bit of rain), so nothing looks too good anyway.  Before returning to the hostel, BY PURE CHANCE I decided to drop by the nearby four-star hotel to take advantage of their quiet, cozy lounge and the internet there and called Tz, which I didn’t plan to.

And by pure chance we talked a bit too long, and then he had to pick up a phone call: it’s a certain Mr Huang from our embassy in Colombia, who, almost two and a half hours after my unexpected encounter with Ms Pu, managed to call my friend Tz to tell me that I won’t be admitted to enter Colombia and shouldn’t try to during the following several months.

I immediately called this Mr Huang (three times, and the telephone rang forever); finally someone picked up, and she spoke no Mandarin and likely limited English.  Mr Huang confirmed that I shouldn’t try to enter Colombia in the short run, since Bogota customs insisted that they won’t hear anyone’s explanation and decided that I “tried to enter with a false passport.”

Part of the thing that annoyed me was that Mr Huang, after my deportation incident and Mr Pu’s telegram several days earlier (informing him that I would likely return to Colombia soon), never thought to warn me not to return to Colombia.  When I finally (succeed to interrupt him and) questioned him, he said “Well, when you came to Colombia and had problems entering the country, that’s my business, but before you tried to enter again, it isn’t my business to do anything.

Brilliant.

I hanged up and resumed talking to Tz.  I started to cry.  I suffered all that deportation drama, didn’t complain a thing, stayed calm and dignified, and I —-ing pulled myself together enough to try Colombia once more within the short span of three day, and now (after spending six or more hours to procure a flight ticket) I was told that I wouldn’t be permitted to enter Colombia.  And I have to cancel the flight ticket!!!

It was as if the big a—hole upstairs is really determined to defeat me.

Later, V happened to get on line due to insomnia, so we had a chance to have some real chat, something we hadn’t done for quite some time, and I cried more.  Yeah, I knew I could improvise, and in fact before I finished the earlier phone call part of my mind was already mapping out a possible travel itinerary in Spain, but I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO IMPROVISE! I DON’T NEED TO BE TESTED TO PROVE MYSELF! And by this stage I really wanted to just go home.  As a tired, defeated loser, that is.

得知不能去波哥大後,我馬上和這間hostel延長住宿二晚。我待的十二人房很窄小,窗戶多半不能開,所以我去(鬧哄哄的)樓下問接下來二晚是否可以換別間房。這家和之前那家青年旅館的職員是二邊輪的,有些很和善很熱心,有些就不是,特別是不太會說英文的。這天的就是這樣:一個幾乎不會說英文,另一個只會說一點,而且不太高興我要換(換成比較貴的房型)、直接說不能換。不過最後還是換了。由於這些人(1)一次只能做一件事;(2)即使不多工操作、動作也是很慢,所以當然是等了好一會。期間要幫我辦手續的職員還傻傻張大嘴盯著電視看新聞中抗議的轉播。

而且要不是因為有好心台灣中年人和我說有電梯,我就只能傻傻扛著行李扛上四樓(台灣的五樓)。

這層樓整晚都有德國小女生(大約是快上國中的年紀;也可能是奧地利人或瑞士人,因為口音不是北德口音)瘋狂尖叫尖笑跑來跑去。

9/25記帳:
行李箱:16 (= 102- 86?)
午餐:10
披薩:2
冰淋淇:3
咖啡:1.8
住宿:17?
總計:49.8 EUR

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2 responses »

  1. Dear Damian,

    For my part, I really prayed to God my Lord and thanked Him for the series of happenings by “pure chance” that kept you from getting on the plane to go to that country.
    Imagine what would have happened without such timely interventions!

    God really loves you very much!

    Reply

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