someone must have combed the streets of alicante, collected every un-showered, questionably sane, seemingly dangerous individual and asked them to congregate here – was my first thought upon entering that bus station. caroline and i had burst through the station doors, sweaty and haggard, duffel bags in hand, only to immediately stop -- dead in our tracks -- as every eye (each belonging to a male, mind you) became fixated on us. saying a prayer of deep, deep gratitude that i was not alone, i ushered caroline to the ticket machine, where we attempted to order our bus tickets. caroline pressed buttons on the screen, frantically, while i, with trembling fingers, fumbled for the ticket money as discreetly as possible; holding an open wallet on display didn’t seem like the safest of ideas. neither of us had good feelings about being in the train station -- something felt off and as hyperbolic as it sounds, it felt like danger was just....in the air. the station was well enough lit, but it's not as though there was help nearby should we need it. it was the middle of the night and the only people surrounding us were strange men. just a very vulnerable position to be in...
thus, my hands began to shake as i sensed someone approaching. i lifted my head slowly, only to meet the eyes of a very dirty, splotchy, boil-covered face now inches away from mine. i nearly screamed, and not because of his appearance, but because of the way he was looking at me. i backed into caroline, who whipped around and grabbed me out of protective reflex. this very large man, reeking of alcohol and urine, nearing ever closer to me, reached out to touch me and knelt on his knees, muttering something under his breath. i jerked my hand away, barely grazing his fingers and caroline and i – still intertwined— took slow, careful steps backward until we burst into a bit of a run.
thankfully, we spotted a cafe at one end of the station – still open! – and we scurried inside, where we watched through the window with bated breath until the man was gone. glancing around the cafe, i let out a deep sigh of relief upon spotting a policeman drinking a coffee and reading a newspaper in the corner. believing that help was within reach if needed, we snuck back over to the ticket machine and bought our tickets in peace. granted, there was a young man standing nearby, talking to himself and shaking uncontrollably, but the touchy, creepy man was gone. feeling relieved, we ran to the bus platform and boarded the bus, thinking the worst was over. we took a quick glance around the bus, however, and instinctively grabbed hands – once again, somewhat terrified.
i turned to caroline and asked, “wait – are these the same men from the bus station?”. she answered in a whisper, “i think they are different, but they look just as dirty….and just as scary”. there wasn’t a single woman on the bus – not a single one! i scanned the rows of the bus and spotted 2 conjoining seats at the very, very back. as we walked down the aisle, both grimacing from the smell (really, it smelled like not a single passenger had bathed in weeks), every head turned and most offered cat calls as we passed. "this is my nightmare", i said to myself, as we took our seats as quickly as possible and huddled together (still holding hands, might i add) as i whispered yet another prayer of thanks that i was not alone in this situation! having caroline next to me made a huge difference. i knew fearing for my life was unnecessary – in theory, nothing traumatic should happen to us. the driver was within earshot if worst came to worst and we needed to scream or call for help, which might sound dramatic but at 1:00 in the morning, your mind can wander pretty far. however, even reminding ourselves of this didn’t add much to our overall level of comfort.
the man in front of us, for example, had turned completely around in his seat. he stared directly at us, shamelessly, for the next 5 minutes (no exaggeration). i averted my eyes while caroline shot him death glares until he got bored with us and turned back around. still holding hands, and with our purses buttoned beneath our jackets (our duffels were stowed beneath the bus), we fell asleep. with our hoods covering as much of our faces as possible. and with our seatbelts on (see mom? this story shouldn’t scare you! i was wearing my seatbelt!). and when we awoke, we had made it safely to granada – precisely 24 hours after leaving poland.
i don’t know if there is a sum of money you could pay to relive those 24 hours.
our stay in granada, however, was delightful. and not at all stressful! so i will start posting about that now. and every one can exhale.
^^ The Granada Bus Station, where we arrived....and daylight!! Our favorite friend.