Well, weren’t quite in Cómpeta at the time of this photo.
We were at the airport in Malaga. Due to mildly-complicated traveling arrangements, it was necessary that Partner and I loiter on the premises for six hours until our cohorts in crime arrived from England. We innocently thought this would only be a minor inconvenience, as it would come after a two-leg flight and a layover that comprised our 16-hour sojourn. Surely sitting around for a bit couldn’t compare to being sealed in a flying tube with wretched people from whom we couldn’t escape.
We were woefully unprepared, mentally, for what ensued.
Granted, we could escape the wretches who populate airports by moving to other sections of said airport. Sadly, the wretches were mobile as well. Try as we might to flee in horror and set up alternate camps, the wretches were apparently in some form of clandestine group chat that allowed at least one contingent of dark souls to quickly find our new domain. It was a cornucopia of wretchedness, with an unending cavalcade of screaming children, unwashed heathens, tour groups comprised of attitude-drenched high school students who were much more invested in Instagram snaps rather than polite behavior, and a plethora of people who should not be allowed access to public spaces for any reason, ever.
I won’t bore you with a litany of detailed incidents, but I will concentrate on one particular episode.
We had just collapsed on a small section of seating after hiking across the tundra from the scene of our last frustration, a row of chairs located outside an enclave of restrooms. (This was perhaps not a wise choice, but we were bleary and unfocused, having been awake for what felt like three days at that point.) We settled into our new sociological experiment as the monotone public-address system reminded us once again (in German, Spanish and English) that leaving your baggage unattended was a faux pas of such shocking proportion that doing so would destroy any hopes of a successful life that you might harbor.
As the recording finished playing, a woman clattered up, lugging and dragging an astonishing variety of travel conveyances, and asked if we would mind watching her unattended baggage whilst she slipped into the loo for a bit of relief.
I didn’t even hesitate. “Sure, we’ll keep an eye on things.” (I blame this exuberant lack of judgment on the special anxiety pills I had taken so that I would not entirely lose my mind during the flight.)
The woman, whom will we now christen “Constance”, simply because it will facilitate an easier telling of the rest of this story, disappeared into what she considered the appropriate-gender facility. (As she did so, the tri-lingual announcer tried to shun us by repeating the desired-attendance status of luggage. We were beyond caring.)
Constance was in there for a very long time. Perhaps there was something happening that defied her expectations.
Eventually, Constance wandered out, looking a bit sleeker than we remembered. In fact, she looked rather dewy, a condition she quickly explicated. “I’m just washing up a bit,” she announced, digging in one of her 27 bags for something she now required. Finding it, she briefly waved the item in our direction (was that a turkey baster?) and then she scampered back yonder.
An hour later, or so it seemed, I became concerned that she may never return. I contemplated the possibility that the surrounding area might become a crime scene of some kind, and such a development did not appeal to me in any way. There were other things much higher on my agenda, such as leaving this damn airport without being questioned by the armed security people that periodically sauntered by (without doing anything about the screaming children who were destroying everything they could touch with their sticky, spoiled fingers).
Finally, Constance, aglow with her cleansing and apparent rejuvenation at a Swedish spa located somewhere in the mysterious depths of Dr. Who’s Airport Loo, traipsed up and shoved the baster back into bag #23. She sighed with contentment and began fingering something in bag #17.
Was she done now? Could we leave? Because I really wanted to do so. This situation had veered from politeness among strangers to something borderline nefarious that smelled quite strongly of litigation and misplaced culpability.
Constance was not done. She proffered a clear plastic pouch that contained finely-ground something-or-other that was brown in nature. “Do you think I can get away with having this in my carry-on?”
I didn’t want to know any more than I needed to know, so I didn’t bother to ask what it might be, instead basing my response on the rather obvious assumption that something was not quite right with Constance. “I think you should put that in a checked bag, just to be sure.” And then throw the bag in the river and never come back for it.
She nodded. “You’re probably right.” The ground brown disappeared into a zippered pocket. She then began tugging on another zipper on another bag.
Aw, hell. I was not in the mood for any more of whatever was going on here, possibly trapped in a never-ending review of Constance’s coterie of crazy. “So, we need to stretch our legs a bit. Are you all sorted here?”
She beamed. “Yes, all sorted. Thank you so much.”
Partner and I leapt to our feet. But we didn’t quite get away just yet.
Constance pointed to one of her entourage bags. “That pink one?”
“Yes?” I asked, trembling with fear.
“The bastard cab driver drove away with it before I could get it out of his car!”
Nope, I wasn’t about to fall down that potential rabbit hole, stupidly asking things I shouldn’t. “That’s terrible. Well, we’ve got to take off now. You have a great day.”
We turned and ran.
We did not look back.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I paused long enough to take the snap which opened this post. This was a photo-mural on the wall across from the row of seats outside the Dr. Who’s Bathroom. It’s a scene of Malaga at night. If you look closely, you can see there’s a door handle in the middle of the mural.
Where does it lead?
Is that where Constance went when she disappeared for hours at a time?
Maybe I’ll open it when we fly home.
I’ll keep you posted…