08/16 Train Rails, Spain

16 Aug 1985, Posted by Scott An Chora in Travelogue, No Comments.

08/16 Train Rails, Spain


We came to an unplanned stop at the border between France and Spain where it appeared the French weren’t about to share their trains with Spanish rails.  We had come to a complete stop and it was obvious they were ushering us through customs.  Well there was no way I would attempt carrying our hash through customs.  It just wasn’t worth the risk.  But leaving the hash behind wasn’t my decision to make alone.  I could almost hear Jim’s voice proclaiming that he would have packed it across and how I owed him money.  Then I would hear over and over again how he wished he could get high and how my decision prevented him from doing so.  Jim was about three trains back and I was standing on the platform waiting for him to get close enough to address the question.

I must have been gesturing in some way or sending out unconscious signals because at that exact moment the General of all custom officials grabbed the bag of tobacco out of my hand.  Jim walked right past me trying his best to avoid eye contact for fear of being pulled into the situation.  I had no idea where the words that came out of my mouth originated.  I did not consciously assemble them or determine their intent.  In hindsight it was one of those odd experiences that are remembered in slow motion.  Almost instantaneously as he grabbed the bag from my hand I backhanded him across his chest. Not hard but just enough to get his attention.  His uniform was decked out in every metal imaginable.  I emphasized my disgust with his improper behavior and in broken English, I stated, “You want, I roll, no grab”.  He looked back at me with an expression of disbelief, “Don’t you know who I am?” he gestured.  Before he caught his breath the words came again from my lips, “You want, I roll, no grab” and I made the gesture of rolling a cigarette.  I noticed he squeezed the bag and angrily asked “Tobacco”? “You want, I roll, no grab” I repeated, gesturing again of rolling a cigarette.  As his anger escalated he abruptly shoved the bag back into my hands.  I opened the bag and rolled a cigarette in front of him and lit it up as I lingered towards the doors that lead into customs.  My exterior remained calm but my heart was pounding a mile a minute.  I reminded myself that I wasn’t out of the woods yet.  I still had to walk through customs and there could be real dogs in there.  As it turned out the American passport was a ticket to ride.  We went in one door and out the other.  It took me a while to find Jim “Where in the hell did you go? I asked “Somebody had to tell your parents that you were in a Spanish Jail”.  Jim barked out.  Thanks anyway.

When we finally reached San Sebastian we were both were excited to explore the bay and find ourselves some food.  We started out walking among the festivities and slowly accumulated the inner workings for a few sandwiches.  Once we reached the bay we began walking the boardwalk until we located some sand with a good view of the bay.  Such beautiful boats lined the horizon.  I questioned why, why I didn’t own a boat like that?  We did a little dancing alongside the festival and had another bottle of wine until we boarded a late train towards Madrid.

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    Usually behind a cup of coffee waiting for the world around me to wake up I entered today’s thoughts about yesterday’s activities into my travel journal. I’m not a writer, so I’ll apologize in advance if I jump around or seem confused. These are just the thoughts of a young man who left his possessions behind and who believes that getting lost is how one finds oneself.

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