International Pay Phones… either I’m retarded or they’re super smart

Finally, I have pulled myself away from catching up on Lost to post my first of hopefully many blogs about my trip to Spain. Actually, I just don’t have season 3 yet. That’s why.

I figured that I should start off with all of the bad stuff that happened in Spain. Because other than these few instances… I had an amazing time and I would go back in a heartbeat.

First off, my friend Cindy and I arrive in the airport at Madrid on Thursday, March 20. My friend Lacy, who I graduated high school with and is currently studying abroad in Spain, was to meet us at the airport. We go through customs and walk out to the welcome committee (it’s really awkward, you come through these doors and everyone is standing in this long line and you feel weird staring back trying to find the one person out of a hundred that you know) after not hearing my name from anyone we set our stuff down and I began the hunt. Yep, Lacy is now where to be found. OK, not a big deal at all. I’ll just call her.

Of course I don’t have any change so I go up to a lady working in a cafe in the airport and ask her in some incredibly broken Spanish if she could make change for me. She says no, I have to go upstairs. I go to the second floor to find a place where I can make change. In my mind I’m thinking of something you see at arcades where I put in a dollar and it spits out four quarters. I walked around and didn’t see anything. I was hoping that by me wasting all of this time Lacy was probably there and I should go down and meet her. I walk back down, and no she isn’t there. OK, so I go back to the second floor determined to find out where I can exchange money. I visit a counter and ask them where I exchange money and it’s actually at the exchanging money place. Apparently they can only break 5 euros where they exchange all types of money. I go and get change for my 5 euros. Walk back downstairs to use the pay phone to call Lacy.

Alright, I might not be the brightest person in the world. But phones in Spain are weird. I even put the instructions in English and I was still confused. I would dial the number, there would be a long pause, then this Spanish woman would come on and ramble on about something and then there would be more silence. I was so confused. I tried calling three times. One time, I thought, “well, maybe it’s like calling collect and I’m supposed to say my name after the Spanish lady rambles on about something I don’t understand.” So, after the Spanish lady said her thing I hesitantly go “….Ashlea??”

I wasted 5 euros. I didn’t even talk to Lacy and I was still super confused. I walked back to Cindy who is waiting among the welcome committee, and still no Lacy. I proceed to go back to the 2nd floor to get more change. This time after getting change I knew that I needed help. I went to the lady in the cafe that originally told me that she couldn’t make change and asked her if she spoke any English. Note to anyone traveling abroad: when someone says they can speak English. They’re lying.

I proceeded to ask the lady how to use the phone (imagine if this happened in the States… I would think the person was so retarded) Once I started talking I realized she had no idea what I was saying. Therefore, I whipped out some espanol and tried to relay the message that I can’t use the phone and I want her to call my friend for me. Something to the effect of “no puedo usar la telefono… ayudame” She apparently got my drift and went over to the pay phone and called Lacy for me. My friend, Lacy, had missed the bus from her town of Burgos to Madrid and was running late because she had to wait until the next bus left.

In my conversation with her it suddenly became clear about pay phones. Apparently, there aren’t dial tones in Spain. So I had no idea what was going on. And the crazy Spanish lady that was talking really fast… Lacy’s voice mail message. You know how you can have a personalized one or leave the automated one… she left the automated one. Therefore Lacy had three messages. Two with very long pauses of silence and one with me sheepishly going…. “Ashlea????”

I knew we were off to a great start.

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