Yellow and green farmland tumbled past our windows as we sped along winding pavement roads. We pointed out a herd of goats and speculated all of our individual roles in the upcoming zombie apocalypse. The sky was blue and empty of clouds, the sign of another perfect day in Spain.
We went along another winding circle and looked up to see a towering cliff, upon which white buildings loomed dangerously near the edge, just barely clinging to their fate-defying foundation.
It was a small town built to appear large from our low viewpoint, and I nervously mentioned my hopes that our hotel was safely planted far from the cliff’s edge. I suppose my sister, who planned the entire trip, knew otherwise. I submit that she either missed my comment, or chose silence rather than explaining our impending doom. I lean towards the latter.
Our minivan tentatively pushed its way up the steep cobblestone streets, ignoring our pleas for it to “quit being so gutless” (harsher language obviously omitted).
Google maps, which had thus far saved us from many-a-disaster, now led us to a strange crossroads with a less-than-helpful, poorly translated sign that seemed to point us directly up a hill through a narrow tunnel that no one who didn’t live in Europe could mistake as a road.
Seeing as asking for directions is my forte (I get lost a considerable amount), as soon as we were illegally parked I unbuckled and pushed myself out of the sliding door and into the road, closely followed by my husband and brother-in-law (they invited themselves, but I assume it was because they were trying to escape the confines of the van, and the increasingly more stressed conversations that were happening within it). We grabbed the attention of the first poor bastard we could find, and were genuinely relieved (and feeling typically North American) when he spoke English well enough to describe our next course of action. After giving directions to our hotel, he encouraged us to come back to a local bar and get thoroughly plastered with the locals. The thought appealed to me in particular.
Trusting God as much as the Spanish, we pushed in our side mirrors, held our bladders, crossed our fingers, and Lord knows what else, and brought the minivan through the tunnel with inches to spare. The screen panel inside the van bleeped aggressively red, reminding us that running into brick walls is a bad thing.
We luckily had another local man guide us through the tunnel, reminding me very much of an automatic car wash gone wrong. This helpful individual did not speak English, and knowing I could be no more help to this venture, I sat back and did the generational thing: I made a video for Snapchat.
After the tunnel, just when we thought we could whoop for victory (or drink to it, at least), we came upon an outdoor restaurant with tables placed haphazardly along the slanted cobblestone. With no way to turn around, and doubt creeping strongly into our vocabulary, we pretended we knew what we were doing (which we 100% did not) and puttered past the seated civilians with awkward smiles on our collective faces. One lady kindly scooted her chair closer to her table to let us pass, hardly turning in our direction.
We triumphantly surfaced to the very top of the small town and made our own parking spot, no lines required. We stepped into the hot afternoon day and looked over the edge to take in the amazing view of every hue of green sprawled for miles, hardly broken by roads or visible civilization.
We grabbed our backpacks and our bag full of wine, and walked the short distance to our hotel. My apprehension was fully realized as we were brought to our rooms and gazed across the balcony to see only empty space beneath our feet.
With a deep breath I prayed for no earthquakes, and by the time the cathedral bells rang and mom was telling us the story about a man marrying his pet donkey, I had gotten myself good and thoroughly plastered in Arcos de la Frontera.