Driving backwards

“It’s the fuck-ups you remember better than the days where everything ran smoothly.” Okay this may not be a direct quote, but it is now.

I flew into Malaga at the start of July to see a good friend, save some money and explore some more southern Spain.

What better way to do this exploring than to rent a cheap car, right? Eventually, yes. Initially, no.

On our second day in Malaga, with towels and sunscreen in hand, we meander to the car for a drive to the beach. Ummmmmm, where did our little silver Ford Fiesta go? It was silver? It was five doors? It was this street? I attempt to pace the entire street in a non-frantic manner to find it. But we all know it’s not there. All signs point to towed. I haven’t even driven the thing yet! We start the walking and the organising to get this damn thing back. We seek a sticker with our rego and their phone number for contact. These fluro triangles are now apparent all over the ground. Funny how we missed that the evening before. Note: yellow zig zags mean don’t park in business hours.

Oasis Hostel Malaga call the authorities for us and tell us where to go pick up the little car and big fine. It’s hot. Everyone’s bothered. I’m already thinking this better be one of this moments you look back on and laugh.

We walk the two kilometres in the special heat only a southern Spanish city can provide. Get a bit lost. Find it. Communicate in the way only sole English and sole Spanish linguists can and hand over my credit card. Farewell cheap hire saving. But then it turns out my car is not here. It is in fact only about five minutes from where we started this hike. F.M.L. You have to laugh so you don’t cry. I laugh. A lot.

We wander back and get lost some more for good measure, before finding the underground car park that houses my locked away rental, further fines, and that great idea at the time.

Now I do have to drive the thing. To give you some background, I haven’t driven a vehicle in over a year. Quads don’t count. I’ve never driven on the “wrong” side of the road. Bad driving back home doesn’t count.

It’s all back to front. I’ve driven a “European” car once or twice, turned on the wipers while trying to indicate kind of thing but this. This. I have to change gears with my right hand. Backward to everything I’ve ever known. Concentration on. Game face on. Oops handbrake. Oops my grandmother drives faster than this. Oops there goes the passenger side mirror on that bin. Oops can’t parallel park on a good day. But we make it to a legal park and survive. Just like riding a bike. A challenging potentially life ending bike.

The next day I up my game. Time to drive two hours to Tarifa. Today’s all about highway, merging, lights and roundabouts. Success! Side mirror intact. Can drive.

And we make it just in time for an amazing sunset. Worth every oops.

The fine is almost paid back as we become gypsies for the two nights. Eating, drinking and showering on the beach. Sleeping in the car. Surprisingly great sleep the first time. Nightmarish the second. I’m looking at you mosquitos.

FYI, Tarifa equals huge beautiful beaches. One second you’re in the Mediterranean the next the Atlantic. It is the most southern mainland point in Europe, and only 14km across the sea to Morocco, oh hi there I can see you old friend. It’s also big on kitesurfing, hip nightlife, and very good looking people (probably kite surfers).

The drive home from Tarifa is a rushed event. I’m tired and those who know me, know I’m the worst driver in this state. But I’m a decent driver by now. Might even pass a licence test. Might. Might also make sure I find a legal park upon return.

Status: day remembered.


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