Charolette and I had frolicked in Sevilla the previous August, however, with Leo in tow we felt like bona-fide Sevillanos. He possessed the natural ability to cement us into our tiled surroundings as he led us from one tiny spot to another. Each stop, we would sip sangria or cervezas while shuffling down small bites of chorizo, olives, and other delicacies he took pride in. “Only here can you find something as beautiful as this. Perfection,” his mouth kissed his fingertips.
The trip had come about one day while we were all at work, serving burgers ‘n such to our regulars. Proposing a visit to his beloved hometown of Sevilla, Leo invited us and our other co-worker, Andreas to accompany him. Charolette then confessed her longing to also see Ronda. The rest is history.
We boarded our flight out of Oslo with great anticipation. From the time our tickets were ordered Leo had really talked up Sevilla. He promised to take us to the restaurant he was part owner of, a drag show, and a bustling market which was sure to blow our minds. Sure enough, he made good on his promise. Contenedor, his restaurant, is now numero uno in my book! We bought flamenco dresses that weighed 100 pounds each at the festive Saturday market. Everyone at the drag show took notice of Charolette as she tends to shine in any environment where all eyes are upon her. One drag queen made the time to allude that my hair was not real and perhaps I was a drag queen myself. That was a laugh! Ahem.
Our journey to Ronda, famous for the taming of the bulls, began the next morning. It was here that Ernest Hemingway felt inspired to write The Sun Also Rises. Scarcely have any foreigners ever been so closely recognized with Spain as Hemingway. Here, he was able to encapsulate the varying entanglements of Spain in a way that mesmerized the world. Hemingway’s association to Spain was more than tourist or even untied ex-pat- he sincerely observed all that was Spanish culture and lifestyle. We too, felt the thrills of Ronda: visiting the bull pen arena, sipping sangria, surveying an old convent, peering down the great heights of the cliffs it’s famous for. If only we hadn’t of jumped that fence…
We had taken a wrong turn along the way, however, were enchanted with the streets and didn’t mind the detour. It was our last evening in Ronda and the night air was full of mischief to be had. Suddenly we were upon an iron-wrought fence of medium height. Charolette went first and hopped over, egging all of us to the other side. It wasn’t even in the direction of our hotel but no one seemed to care. We were enjoying the impulsiveness of it all.
Jumping fences or the like have never been an issue for me. I grew up narrowly dodging barbed wire and craggy wooden posts. As soon as my foot hit the uneven cobblestone though, I knew something had gone terribly wrong. The sensation of six-thousand knives stabbing my left foot drowned out all bodily awareness. No other limbs existed for a time span of thirty to ninety seconds following my slipshod landing.
No one, not even me despite the pain, seemed to grasp the reality of my left foot’s condition. Leo traded his sandals for my small wedges. Arm in arm, we trudged back to the hotel, the night before’s folly long gone. Before long, Leo was practically carrying me. “I’m sorry your foot hurts,” Char breathed out, but not convinced it was all that serious. Andreas returned from the lobby with a bottle of wine to ice the pain. Glancing at the time we saw it was nearly 2:00 a.m. Quietly, we packed all of our belongings and I tried to sleep during the five hour window until we had to leave.
Waking the next morning I looked down at my foot. It had swollen triple the size. I couldn’t put any weight on it without screaming. Rolling over, Charolette took a look, “Holy Christ,” she said. Making our way to the car was a riot. My tall stature leaning against Charolette’s small frame. It was the blind leading the blind. Contorting with laughter, we piled into the car, leaving behind the tension that had arisen the night before. I had come to terms that my foot was perhaps sprained but would live through it. I had notified work and planned to going to the hospital after getting back to Oslo. Why none of us thought to seek medical attention in Ronda is, to this very day, beyond me. Maybe a hospital trip didn’t match the attitude of our Spanish sojourn?
Not long after taking off to the airport we hit a sizeable bump, the car audibly going thump thump thump for a matter of minutes. “Do you think it’s okay?” Andreas asked nervously. “Of course! It’s fine,” Leo was always the optimist of the group. Continuing on, Charolette began to moan of a stomach ache. Something on that night’s platter du jour was not sitting well. “I think we’re going to have to pull over,” she whispered. By this point, we were coming upon the most dangerous road in spain which is perfectly placed on a very dangerous mountainside with no guard rails. Before finalizing the trip, Char and I had read about this road in some online publication.
As we descended we all became aware that the left side of the car was riding at a noticeably lower point than the right. Stopping, Leo and Andreas checked out the car informing us that indeed the left tire was going flat. Our resident Spaniard, fearless Leo cried, “We can make it to Malaga like this!” Like hell we can, I thought, my foot turning a pale shade of violet. Andreas convinced Leo the tire needed changing out so they set to it. Charolette turned to me, her stomach problem becoming more apparent by the minute. We giggled. What else was there to do while stuck on this mountain?
“We cannot fix,” bowing his head Leo looked flushed. Thus, we had to call a tow service to return the car plus a taxi to deliver us to the airport. By the time the taxi arrived, it was clear to us that we would miss our flight to Oslo. To make matters more entertaining, Charolette had decided she needed to go. I was to be her lookout since having a man do so would prove too embarrassing. Hobbling outside of the car, balancing all of my weight onto my right foot I kept lookout. Then there came a fast moving car followed by the tow truck. Charolette bounded back from the bushes as the two vehicles stopped beside me. The cab driver took one look at me trying to balance upon Charolette and lifted me inside the taxi. “Lo ciento?” I said in despair.
Now, in situations like these it is normal for someone to snap or lose their temper or become aggressive. Yet, there we were, all canned in the back of a taxi like sardines smiling. My foot was propped between the console of the front seat. Charolette and I turned to each other, exchanging toothy grins. It was one of the most beautiful sunrises over Marbella that morning, and we were in its audience.
Arriving at the Malaga airport, we were a disheveled lot from the strain of our morning yet we were all smiling because a release of any other emotion would ruin the newly centered calm . Char went to secure a highly-contested wheelchair while the boys investigated our potential flight options. Leo appeared by my crippled side in a fluster, “Edee min, there is only one more flight to Oslo until tomorrow night. It leaves in half an hour!”
Deciding the disabled one should be the one to go, they sent me in my wheelchair through security. Waving with smiles—for they would have two extra days in Spain until the next flight to Oslo went out. I would like to tell you that I was a put together cripple but that was not the case. First, I set off every single alarm going through security. Then while being wheeled to my gate I realized that all 32 of my post cards were in my purse. The man wheeling me explained the post box was on the opposite side of the airport… outside. Somehow, I struck a deal with this very generous guy and he promised to mail the cards (which he actually did do). Getting on the plane people stared. I dragged my foot along the aisle, wincing in pain.
Getting back into Oslo my husband met me at the terminal. As a trained medic he knows what to look for when it comes to damaged limbs. “Edee,” he shook his head, “This is definitely more than a sprain.” Come to find out, it was broken clean in half! Come to find out, I would have to have surgery! And that is the beginning of a whole other story…