The Day the Magic of Travel Failed Us (a/k/a The Granada Incident)

In 2014 we went to Spain with my sister and my parents.  It was a big family trip to celebrate my 40th birthday.  We all flew into Madrid, spent a few days there before renting cars and heading to Osuna which is about an hour east of Sevilla.  It was a great trip. Except for our day trip to Granada which, um, had a few wrinkles.


Looking happy and in love while touring the Alhambra

It started out as an ordinary travel day.  We all loaded up the cars and off we went – our GPS calmly guiding our way.  One thing of note – while we had 2 rental cars, we only got 1 GPS in an effort to minimize expense.  The GPS was in our car and my sister and parents were following in the other car.  This is a key fact that becomes relevant later…

We went straight to the Alhambra and parked.  For those who haven’t been to Granada, the Alhambra overlooks the city of Granada below.  After touring the Alhambra, we decided to explore the city.  We hadn’t done much advance research on what we wanted to see or do in Granada. Maybe not the best approach.

As we gathered our thoughts in the plaza, I noticed a gentleman selling a large sketch of the plaza itself.  There was a sign that said he lost his passport and was selling the sketch for 20 Euro.  I loved the sketch and bought it immediately, feeling good that I was helping this man.  My husband was wandering around the plaza at the time I made the purchase.  When I brought it over to him and explained what it was, he told me that I probably just gave a pedophile money. J insisted the only reason why people “lose their passports” is because they are criminals.  Now bear in mind, J is a law enforcement officer so he does tend to assume the worst in these situations.  Naturally, I was crestfallen and feeling badly about giving him money.  But I loved the sketch.  The Sketch Incident was the first sign of rocky times ahead.

I don’t like to drive and quite frankly, I’m not that great at it.  I get flustered easily.  I don’t do it often since I commute by public transportation. This is a key fact that becomes relevant soon.

J had done all of the driving on the trip thus far.  After a long day of sightseeing and in an effort to rebound from the Sketch Incident, I offered to drive the 2 hours back to Osuna so he could enjoy a beer or two with dinner.

After a lovely dinner, our little caravan headed home with me and the GPS in the lead and  my sister and parents following.  The first sign of trouble was when I encountered a rotary or traffic circle or roundabout, depending on where you’re from.  Whatever you call them, I don’t like them.  But I bravely drove forward into the circle of traffic.  Which is precisely when J started barking at me because apparently, my approach was a touch on the reckless side given that my sister was following.

That traffic circle behind us, quite literally, I took a deep breath and thought, if I just make it to the highway, all will be fine.  Or not.

For some reason the way the arrow was painted on the road of the entrance ramp threw me for a loop and I had this thought that I was going the wrong way on the ramp. I may have become a little flustered and sought reassurance from my husband.  Unfortunately, he didn’t understand why I was flustered. Instead of reassurance, there was more unhelpful barking.

I then recall trying to exit the highway to get gas but missed it and then drove to a dead end because J failed to provide navigational assistance.  My sister and parents dutifully followed me to the dead end.  I asked my beloved husband to give me some clearer navigational guidance. I believe this is the point where I started to cry in frustration. Actual tears with kids in the backseat and my sister and parents stopped at the dead end right behind us.  J’s response was to start saying really helpful things like “go straight” and “go straight again” every 20 seconds when there was no other option but to go straight. This was not as helpful as he thought.  By the time we turned ourselves around and got back on the highway and then properly exited for the gas station, I was a touch frazzled.

Because we are parents, the first thing we do at a gas station on a road trip is find the bathrooms.  I grabbed Catherine and set out – without saying anything to J because I was a touch frazzled, remember? I met up with J as we walked out of the restrooms and said “Where’s Nate?” His response: “I thought you had him.”  Oops.  Turns out we had left Nate in the car.  At a rest stop on the side of a Spanish highway.  At 10pm.   Of course, all was well and Nate was happily entertaining himself in the car.Yes, my sister and parents were also getting gas but they were at a pump that was not in view of our car and they were making their own trips to the bathroom.

Thankfully the rest of our journey was uneventful and we made it safely back to Osuna without further incident.

I did not attempt to drive again while in Spain.  We did not bicker again the rest of the trip. Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

Car Spain

Happier times in the car – with me in the passenger seat and J behind the wheel.

A footnote to the Sketch Incident – I  left it behind at the gate area when we were boarding our plane home.  J was the one to notice I didn’t have it and raced back to get it.

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The Sketch which now hangs in our finished basement.

It’s been a little over 2 years since the Granada Incident.  We can now laugh about it. We laugh, look at each other fondly and say “we need a Granada do-over.” Okay, so I also do this thing when J is being annoying where I raise my eyebrows and say “go straight, go straight” in a jerky manly voice. It seems to get the message across.