Jesse Cape: AU COSAM- Spring Program in Alcalá de Henares, Spain Spring 2019
When traveling, no one plans for things to go wrong, but it is simply unavoidable. In the moment, these incidences are not pleasant, but they make for some great memories to reminisce on.
There are so many differences between America and Europe that I couldn’t even begin to list them all, but one extreme difference is the transportation system, especially the bus system. Buses in Europe are very different than the United States in that the American rides are extremely structured with the driver being in charge of the passengers. In Europe, however, the passengers are in charge of themselves, and it is your job to ensure you arrive at the correct location. In America, everything is clearly marked with exact times, but in Europe there is a lot of inferring that has to occur. Also, buses in Europe make unexpected stops with an undetermined stop time. Sometimes the stops are long and people are allowed off the bus for a break, but sometimes the stops are strictly for letting off passengers. As you can infer, we learned this lesson the hard way.
The date was Sunday, February 9, 2020 and the six of us were traveling back on a bus from a lovely weekend in Barcelona. The drive was about 8 hours long and we were all dozing in and out of sleep. We had been in Spain for about a month and were becoming very accustomed to the language and the relaxed culture. We had already had a few mishaps with the bus system, but always seemed to figure it out without any major issues. On this particular day, we were about halfway through the ride while I was sleeping at the front of the bus as I had been for hours. I was woken up by strangers shaking me and exclaiming in Spanish “tus amigos, tus amigos!” I looked around to reveal that I was alone on the bus and it was pulling out of the station.
Having just woken up, it took me a moment to comprehend what was happening. The level of Spanish being spoken around me was extremely complicated with about 6 people talking to me at once. I eventually was able to understand that my group had gotten off to go to the bathroom at a station, but the stop was very short, only to drop passengers off. Of course, they didn’t know this and just waltzed off the bus without a doubt. Most of them even left their phones on the bus. Thankfully, one of the boys we were traveling with was also left on the bus and walked up from the back to help me figure this out.
At that moment, we had no cell service because the station was underground. Once we emerged from the station and were able to get in touch with them, they hadn’t even realized that they were abandoned yet. I was freaking out for them, but they thought it was hilarious. Thankfully we all spoke Spanish and were able to talk to the bus driver, and he advised them to get on another bus going in the same direction. They found a bus that was also heading to Madrid, explained to the bus driver the situation, and he thankfully let them on.
After about 2 hours of being on separate buses, they were able to catch up with us when we stopped at the same rest stop. It was so nice to reunite with them, and everyone on the bus was excited as well after all the commotion I caused.
Issues like these are never something you want to happen while traveling, but it is always nice to learn something from your mistakes. After this, we never left the bus during a trip unless we were sure it was a long stop. We also made sure to always bring our phones when stopping, no matter what. Overcoming issues is always an achieving feeling, and it was rewarding to reunite with this wonderful group of people. This incident makes me so happy because it made something as simple as a bus ride into something so memorable and emotional. If this hadn’t of happened, what would I have remembered about this ride?