Current Anxiety rating: 2....Previous anxiety rating: 6
18.09.2014 - 18.09.2014 78 °F
Thursday was not a happy day.
It certainly started out happy, though. Nothing foreboding or ominous to signal that anything was amiss. It was your typical Thursday. I went through my normal wake-up, go to class, come home for lunch routine. When we got home, Jenni and I were taking a peek at some flights for a possible trip to Northern Spain the following week when our host mom walked in. She asked about where we were thinking about going and asked to see the flights and the prices.
Immediately, when she started looking at them, she got excited and started telling us in rapid-fire Spanish that we had to buy them! And we had to buy them now! They were too good to pass up! To be fair, one of the flights was listed at 10 euro, so her excitement was understandable. I quickly did some quick math and conversions and found out that three flights, one from Malaga to Bilbao, one from Bilbao to Barcelona, and one from Barcelona back to Granada, only would end up costing me a little under 200 dollars. My host mom kept trying to explain how we should organized the trip and what flights would be the best, again all in rapid-fire Spanish. I usually understand her pretty darn well but because I was a little overwhelmed by all this happening so fast, my comprehension was taking a hit. When I did admit that I didn't understand what she had just said and I asked a clarifying question, she crinkled her eyebrows at me, and proceeded to explain everything again (not necessarily slower or more clearly but definitely louder) mostly to my roommate. In addition to feeling a bit overwhelmed, I felt a wee bit stupid as well because I still didn't understand what she was saying. I finally had to just ask my roommate in English to explain, and it turns out I had understood what she had said the first time, and when I asked her to clarify she had took that to mean I didn't understand any of it. So, add my frustration to the mix and stir thoroughly.
She finally left us to buy our tickets, and I realized when I was buying the first one that there would be a 30 euro charge on top of each of my tickets because I was paying with a card online (I am not quite sure how they expect you to do it and suspect it might be just another way to squeeze us for money). I started to get a little freaked out because my two hundred dollar trip was now up to three hundred dollars. After I bought the last of the three tickets, I had a moment of panic. What had I just done!? Earlier in the week, I had paid for a 350 dollar roundtrip ticket to Florence and I hadn't even booked hostels for either of my trips. My hopes of keeping my travel expenses under 600 dollars disappeared in a blip. The type of panic that usually comes when I spend large amounts of money snuck in. And by that, I mean, a raging tension headache commenced and I started to feel like I was going to cry. (On the bright side, these symptoms indicate that any expensive spending tendencies I may have will be minimal).
After we bought our tickets, it was time for lunch and I tried to squash down the vaguely sick, cry-ey feeling with the lentil soup my host mom had made us for lunch (For those of you wondering, it is not the best thing to squash down feelings of sickness). After lunch I started to relax a bit finally and decided that you know, what's done is done and I will do my best to be frugal with everything else....
Of course that couldn't be the end of that, now could it?
Just after Jenni had left to go volunteer, I went back to the booking page to write down my confirmation numbers and my flight routings. Everything was fine until I got to my second booking. My heart dropped to the ground floor of the 7 floor apartment building when I realized my first mistake. I had selected the wrong airport to fly into! When you search Bilbao on the bargain flight website, it turns up results for two airports: Bilbao and Santander. I had selected Santander (which is an hour away from the Bilbao airport). But of course, that wasn't my only mistake. In an effort to realize how I had made such a massive mistake I realized that the reason I had been so confused is because I clicked on the last Monday in October rather than the last Monday in September, and the flight was the same price as the one I was supposed to select, so little old me, in a rush and not thinking twice, bought that one. Yep. So not only did I select to fly into the wrong airport, but I selected the completely wrong date at time. Yay.
With my host mom sleeping and my roommate gone, I didn't know what to do. I sent out some frantic emails to the budget airline search we booked through and tried to look up a number to call. The first email I sent, after specifically reading I should send wrong date/ time bookings to that particular email address, returned a result that the mailbox wasn't active. I sent three more emails as I tried to stave off panic before I left. The day before I had arranged to walk around with a few friends who were going shoe shopping. I need a distraction until I could get some answers, so I went.
And before I knew it I was heading home again. When I got home, my host mom was on the phone, so I couldn't ask her what to do. I tried to sort it out with my dad, who told me finally that I should just call. I got through to someone on the budget airline website phone number, but she told me that I needed to call the airline because it was going to have to be a completely new booking. She gave me the number and wished me luck. The next thing I did was try that line, but my phone said that I wasn't allowed to complete the call as dialed. I tried with area code, I tried without, and when that didn't work I cried some more. After that I tried the airline's website, but naturally, in order to request a change you need your flight number which in my crazed state I could not find for the life of me. I tried to blubber out exactly what had happened to my dad on the phone and was in the middle of that when my host mom walked in. Have I mentioned how much I love crying in front of practical strangers?
After she talking briefly to Jenni about how her first day of volunteering went, her eyes landed on me. Me, a mess, red-eyed, hair crazy, tears everywhere. She immediately asked what was wrong and I did my best to explain in a bit of bungled Spanish what had happened. To her credit, she actually understood me even though I'm sure my weird crying voice was less than completely intelligible. I told her the number hadn't worked on my phone, so she offered to call for me which was really nice considering the charges they have on some of those phone lines. She got through and the person she talked to directed her to another line. On the last line, though, they informed her that changes are only accepted two hours after the booking is made (*exasperated sigh*) and I wouldn't be able to get any of my money back.
Weirdly, I was oddly relieved. Not by the fact that I had to spend 40 more euros, but I was relieved to know what I had to do. After she got off the phone, I thanked her profusely and quickly went on to snag another ticket as well as to make sure, for the 100th time since I had realized my first snafu, that all my other tickets were in order. (They were. Thank god.)
After that we went off to have dinner and my host mom tried to cheer me up with a story about a former study abroad student who stayed with her that involved dead siblings and a private jet (Yes, it was a roller coaster all the way though). She also went on to repeatedly assure me that mix-ups like mine happen to everyone. And I finally settled in for the evening, exhausted. And wouldn't you know it, not an hour before I went to bed, I realized the ring that I had bought a week or so prior as my one souvenir was missing. I looked everywhere. The floor of my room, the bathroom floor, the hallway, my laundry bag. No luck. I was beside myself. I was completely convinced that I had washed it down the drain in the bathroom. It was definitely a class-A end to the day. I decided I was giving up on Thursday and went to bed.
It was definitely the worst day that I have had since my first day in Madrid when I had my panic attack, but it wasn't all a wash. I was able to book all my flights and get everything figured out in the end, no matter how messy it was, and the next day, right after I assured myself that I could buy myself something else to commemorate my trip to Spain, I found my ring as I was cleaning out my shelves in the closet. I have my fingers crossed that my host mom was right when she said that I got all my bad travel luck out of the way in one fell swoop. If so, I was really just being efficient I suppose.
And that is the story of my Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Day. Thanks for caring enough to keep up with all of my adventures and flubs, and I will hopefully have a less disastrous story to share next week!
Thank you to the Helen Barr Rudin Grant for making this blog and my adventures abroad possible*