And then probably out of sheer pity, the driver had an incredible change of heart…..
“But we will miss the ferry back to Ibiza!”, both of us exclaimed in loud unison laced with panic. “And that’s not all, our cruise ship berthed there might sail away without us!” The impending catastrophe was all too obvious. And I had only myself too blame. Wondered if my missus would ever forgive her over-confident hubby? I had serious doubts on that one.
Just to bring you up to speed, we were at that time literally entreating a coach driver at the beach bus-stop to take us back to the jetty. Going back into time would probably help understand the context better.
We were merrily holidaying in Europe last year. Much against our understandable refusals, the children had forcefully bought us tickets for a rather expensive cruise. The voyage commencing from Barcelona was taking us through some very beautiful enroute stops.
The sight-seeing set-up was pretty neat. The cruise ship used to majorly sail during the evening/ night hours. Day time was reserved for on-shore visits to some very select touristy towns. The ship used to be berthed in the harbor and arrangements were made for us to go across to mainland. Very strict cut-off timings were set for getting back to the ship. No one was expected to hold the rest of the travelers ransom to unacceptable ‘follies of un-punctuality ’.
Barring an ‘act of God’, the ship’s schedule was not open to any alteration. We were given to understand, that if someone didn’t make it in time, the ship would continue as planned. Thus practically leaving you to fend for yourself. One could of course try alternative means to catch up by the next port of call.
Most enjoyable and sublime had been the experience till now. The ship had sailed through the night and a beautiful sunrise awaited us at Ibiza. Ibiza incidentally is one of the Balearic islands, an archipelago of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea. It is well known for its lively nightlife. Quite a few people especially, the younger crowd prefer to spend the day there itself. However, the more adventurous types hop across to Formentera which is considered a sister island of Ibiza. We also decided not to miss out on the opportunity.
Connected by a ferry service, Formentera is famous for its beautiful white-pristine beaches. It is fairly small, just about 32 sq miles with a population of around ten thousand. It takes about half an hour to reach there by the new catamarans which are providing the local ferry routine. Over the last few decades, Formentera has built quite a reputation for itself as an exclusive destination, not to be missed. Not many people know that it used to be a hippie top-spot in the 1960s. Now it features in movies, Glamour magazines and Geo-shows.
On reaching Formentera, we had a quick look at the listed bus schedule.I pride myself on my mental-maths abilities.I confidently worked out the time that we could possibly spend on the island. The plan was to catch the first possible coach to the beach. On the way back, the plan was take the 3:30 bus from the beach to the jetty. This way we would have maximized our stay. Everything would then be just fine for our return journey to Ibiza and onwards to our cruise ship.
On a given day on this island, it is advisable to pick up only one beach and enjoy it to the fullest. That is much better than just doing a ‘touch and go’ on as many as possible. I am not too sure but if I remember correctly, but it was the ‘Platja de Tramuntanna’ beach that we choose for that afternoon. Paved roads allow access to all parts of the island and cars are easily hired in the port. However, the local bus-service from the jetty is the most popular means of mobility. You get a bus either way every about 45 min to an hour. We opted for the same.
It was a rather hot summer afternoon because warm would be a bit of an understatement. Reaching our tucked away idyllic spot, we splashed around a bit, a bite at the loco and topped it up with a refreshing ice-cream. Tucking ourselves under a beach umbrella, we snoozed awhile. There was no connectivity in that part of the island. So, in a way we were happy to be weaned away from our WhatsApp messages. And before we realized, it was almost time to go back.
We trudged back to the bus-stop to be there well in time. Within a few minutes, a bus arrived and we were happy to be on track, on time. We were however a little bit surprised when the driver did not open the door at the due time. A bit puzzled, I walked across to the driver’s window and queried about the delay.
The driver’s English was probably as good as my Spanish. Which frankly did not quite go beyond wishing a ‘Hola’. While I struggled to convey my concern, he pointed at his watch and indicated to me that he would move only at 4:15. Confused and a bit worried by now, I tried to argue, but frankly quite in vain. The driver was unmoved and nonchalantly pointed me to the close-by Notice Board.
Both Missus and I fervently started inspecting the bus schedule on the board. To our horror, we discovered that I had blundered by misreading the timing. So much so for my perceptive faculties! The return bus was indeed at 4:15. For some reason, the driver had brought the bus early to the stop. But obviously, being strict to departure time, he was in no mood to budge. With no connectivity, the taxi option was also out.
That evidently meant that we would definitely miss our 4:30 ferry back to Ibiza, thus putting our further return to the cruise ship in serious jeopardy. And that is how, we found ourselves imploring and pleading to the bus driver to help us out. Not that the highest common factor of ‘desperate animation’, was helping matters in any way.
And then probably out of sheer pity, the driver had an incredible change of heart. Shaking his head and squirming, he relented and signaled us to get onto the bus swiftly. Heavily relieved, we did so in quick time. The driver sped off with just the two of us. On the way, he kept muttering something in Spanish. We somewhat understood that he had consented for this drop to the jetty only as an extraordinary measure. He would have to rush back to the beach to make good his standard departure. And how he was putting his job at risk for us.
Reaching the jetty, we thanked the driver profusely for saving us a great deal of embarrassment. From there onwards, everything was rather uneventful as we resumed our plan. But it sure had been a very close call, but for the amazing gesture of an unknown angel.
Almost faded are the memories of the beautiful sights we viewed, the taste of the fine-dining delicacies and the boisterous noises from the jovial company at the bar.
But the fragrance of a particularly good deed we experienced along the way, is just etched in quasi-permanence.
Postscript: Of course, Missus will never let me forget this incident!
First published at seekmediation.com on 30 Jun 23
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