ON BEING LED ASTRAY
Barcelona Airport. May 20, 2018. And the lessons learnt that day.
The Captain is the proud owner of an expensive fancy GPS.
It can be programmed anywhere in the world.
The car we rented in Barcelona also came equipped with an up-to-date-state-of-art GPS.
Thus, getting from the airport to our friends, a two-hour drive away, should’ve been a no-brainer.
The Captain programmed our GPS.
Decided to also program the car as a back-up. And use it.
All directions on our car GPS were given in two languages. Wait for it –
Spanish and Catalan.
I have a limited knowledge of Spanish. So, I should’ve been fine with basic directions.
The terminology on the Spanish GPS could’ve been Mandarin as far as I was concerned.
We returned to our trusty American GPS.
The first roundabout arrived.
“Enter,” she said, “and take the third exit.”
It took a few roundabouts and some unintended exploring before we realized that –
Miss GPS was counting the exit we’d just left as #1.
So, #3 in our American mindset was #4 in her mindset when she’s in Spain.
I wish I could say she was consistent but that was not to be. We learned to be vigilant fast!
Soon we ended up in some hitherto unexplored, for us, parts of Barcelona.
I decided to listen carefully to her directions, but it was total gobbledygook.
I looked at the GPS.
Miss GPS was pronouncing the street names like an American. Relying on listening was out. I had to “read” the GPS, then read the street names.
Now anyone who has traveled in Europe knows that the Europeans take a fiendish delight in hiding street names, obscuring them, or simply printing them in tiny letters.
Life became interesting, but we finally managed to get out of Barcelona.
Our friends live in the country side. Miss GPS’ farewell gesture was to put us on a single lane dirt track for two miles. Grass growing a foot high in the center.
She’d overshot the “real” turnoff by a mile.
But finally, we arrived.
By now one would think that she’d had her fun with us but is was not to be.
A week later we headed for France.
She would absolutely NOT allow herself to be programmed for France. She was faithful to Spain.
We had to cross the border, pull off the road and talk to her nicely.
She kindly agreed that we’d left Spain.
Finally, the car, the GPS, the Captain and I were on the same page. And it was lunchtime.
“Oh,” I said to the Captain, “can we please pick a little town off the highway for coffee and something to eat?”
We took a rain check on McDonalds and Burger King (yes, you read right….) and took the exit for Beziers.
Miss GPS condescendingly spit out a list of restaurants.
Half an hour later, driving in what felt like circles, we’d change restaurant destinations twice. Miss GPS would simply throw up her hands, plus a black screen, leaving us somewhere we didn’t want to be. Driving into a wall or a river didn’t hold much appeal.
As for her pronunciation of the French street names? I speak a fair French but had no clue. It was back to reading.
Finally, brave though we are, we admitted defeat.
I’d pictured lunch at an outdoor table for two on the sidewalk, sipping espresso, munching on French baguette and good cheese while watching the passing foot traffic.
Reality was a stop on the highway, a croque monsieur with too much cheese of a doubtful nature and an espresso even I couldn’t stomach.
But hey! I was in France. And I did manage to exchange a few words with a lovely old Frenchman (he even wore a beret!) who wished me –
“Bonnes Vacances en France Madame!”
As I pondered these adventures my mind drifted to my spiritual GPS.
How often am I led astray by unfamiliar exits, illegible street signs and clamoring voices that I don’t understand but follow anyway.
But then I have the Written Word, aka The Good Book, to get me back on the right road.
Cyber hugs and Blessings All. Make sure your Spiritual GPS stays up-to-date. No need to get lost!