Traveling with Marge -- Part IV

Marge Flados

After four or five days on a bus tour, the irascible side of everyone’s nature becomes apparent probably because by now everyone is constipated. I assumed because of the hard rolls eaten for breakfast. There was the lady who repeatedly complained about “spending so much time on the bus”. This always brought us to the point of laughter. Did she not know this was a bus tour? 

Each day there was clockwise seat rotation which gave everyone a turn at sitting in seats that may provide a slightly better view. One couple on the tour didn’t want to give up their front seats but Irmgard handled that little problem swiftly and it never occurred again.

We arrived in Malaga, a beautiful resort city on the Spanish Mediterranean with a ridge of mountains at its back. After touring a 17th century cathedral and the surrounding Roman ruins we took a tour of the old section of the city, riding in a buggy pulled by a horse that wore bells and had a little umbrella attached to his bridle to protect him from the hot Spanish sun.

For our dinner that evening I ordered a seafood platter anticipating shrimp, oysters and fillets. Wrong! It was octopus, tiny little octopi with their eyes still in place and larger squid parts which were like chewing on pieces of garden hose, deep fat fried to a turn (of my stomach). There was one tiny piece of fillet and four small mullet. Mullet is considered bait in South Texas since no one eats them except larger fish! I ate it all in spite of the many little eyeballs on my plate and they were winking and blinking at me all long night.

Next morning we were off to the Costa Del Sol, referred to as the Spanish Riviera which is framed by countless high-rise buildings to accommodate the international tourists who come to bask in the sun on the dark gray sand of the local beaches. There was some serious neck turning to view the topless bathers some of whom should have worn a top for esthetic reasons. Topless sun bathing seemed quite common. (No pun intended)

We were headed to Algerciras and on the way took a little side trip to Mijas, a village once obscure and set away but because of its elevation, view and charm became a tourist attraction. There was a little chapel carved out of the stone cliffs and a small bull ring. So small that only a wee bull and a tiny matador could function in that ring. All buildings were white and gleamed like jewels in the sun with a spectacular view of the sea in front and the mountains to its back.

We were headed for Gibraltar, known as the Rock! It is English territory and has been fought over for hundreds of years. Gibraltar is a military base and 25,000 people live there. They can grow nothing, it is a rock, remember? The water is collected in reservoirs or distilled from the sea and everything must be imported. As we drove ever higher we arrived at the area where the Barbary apes live. The British say Gibraltar will remain British for as long as the apes are on the Rock. At one time their numbers dwindled and Winston Churchill ordered that they be fed regularly by the British Army and they began to thrive and multiply. We had been warned to hang tight to our purses because the apes sometimes snatched them in their quest for peanuts.

Later we proceeded on to Algeciras which is across the Strait of Gibraltar from Algeria. Our hotel was old and elegant dating back to 1906 and a favorite of the king and queen of Spain. Irmgard had told us that the hotel allowed tours to use the royal suite when the space was needed. As luck would have it Cata and Lupe were assigned to the royal suite and we were in awe of it. Dolores and I were the last ones assigned to a room. We had promised Irmgard we would not complain about our room assignment as many of the others had done.

We headed for our room which was located in the bowels of the hotel and what appeared to be a basement or a dungeon. It even smelled a little like one. When we finally found it, we discovered it was spacious and lovely. We decided it was the escape route in case of fire or bombing and we were blessed to be near an exit that led to the beautiful gardens that surrounded the hotel.

That night there was a knock at our door and the wife of the Chinese couple from Taiwan asked if we could help her make a decision. Her husband was experiencing rectal bleeding and they were trying to decide if they should leave the tour and fly back to Michigan in the morning. I was not anxious to call the shot on that one. I asked some nurse-type questions then told her that my opinion was that, since the blood was bright red it was probably a little ruptured blood vessel in a hemorrhoid or polyp (those hard rolls again?) and to stay with the tour unless the bleeding increased, buy dressings with adhesive backing for her husband to utilize until they arrived home. Then to see a doctor who would probably order a colonoscopy and the answer would be forthcoming in good order. About 2 weeks after we arrived home we received a letter from them saying it was exactly as I predicted and he was doing fine. They were grateful for our advice and I felt like Mother Teresa.

After all our adventures, what could happen next? A great deal, as it turned out. Stay tuned.

Marge Flados resides in Harlingen Texas and can be reached at nfados@gmail.com.

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