As we move to Phase 2 in Valencia, we are looking back to the last few months. There were moments of confusion, and fear. And there were moments of confusion and laughter. Thankfully, more of the latter than the former. We are linguistically challenged on a non-pandemic day. But during the state of alarm? Our lack of language skills and general confusion of how things work on a normal day, let alone during this time, have caused a state of alarm to ourselves and others.
I didn’t write about this when it happened. We had other things on our minds. But every day since, when our door buzzes, Jeff breaks out into a cold sweat – and its not just at the prospect of having to speak to the Correos guy (mail carrier) for an Amazon delivery.
A few weeks back, we had to drive in our car to an appointment. We didn’t have a choice. Jeff was driving back to the apartment alone and he noticed all cars on the other side of the multi-lane divided Avenida were all stopped higgly-piggly. He said it was like in the movie War of the Worlds. Suddenly, there were cones set up on his side of the road, directing all cars to feed into one lane on the right. Police were waving at drivers with a baton and motioning them to proceed. Jeff was at the beginning of that line so he had no one to follow. He assumed there was an accident of some sort so he inched along with caution.
A group of police on the side of the road were clumped together talking, then they all turned and walked away. With no one to give him further instruction, he kept driving, finally stopping at the red light 100 meters down the road. When he looked back in his rear view mirror – two police officers were standing in the road, having stopped the other cars behind him, and were looking in his direction and waving. The light changed and he wasn’t sure what he should do so he drove on and went home.
When I saw him next, he promptly informed me that he was a fugitive from justice and that at any moment the Policia would be knocking on our door.
‘I think they wrote down my information from the plate. But it wasn’t like any traffic stop or check point we’ve seen. They didn’t direct me to stop. Just to feed into the right lane. What should I do?’
He seemed serious. He was losing sleep over it.
‘Well.’ I told him. ‘I’m pretty sure with that giant ‘L’ placard on the back – they have teams of people out searching for you. You should probably head directly to the Benimachlet police station and turn yourself in. They might go easy on you.’
He looked like he just might be contemplating this suggested course of action.
Then, 2 weeks ago,, they set up the check point across from our apartment, and Jeff stood on the balcony watching them intently. When I came up behind him and poked him in the ribs – he jumped a mile.
‘Don’t do that!’ he scolded me.
‘They’re closing in.’ I whispered. ‘This charade is pure pantomime. Probably just toying with you, hoping to flush you out. It’s all a cat and mouse game now. They’re waiting for you to make a run for it. Who will break first? Dun Dun Dun…’
He was not amused.
As we approach next Monday and the prospect of moving to Phase 2, driving within the province will be allowed. The countryside of the Valencia region anxiously awaits us. When I mentioned this, Jeff wasn’t as enthusiastic as I would have hoped.
‘You can drive.’ He told me. Which is weird because he always wants to drive.
‘That’s fine.’ I told him. ‘I’ll drive. You can just lay down in the back with a blanket over you until we get out of the city limits. I’ll let you know when the coast is clear.’
Sadly, I think he may have done just that. But then he looked something up and it changed everything. It seems that any violations – like the one he committed – would go against the official owner of the car, because they would have no idea who he is. And because he didn’t have his official Spanish driving license when we purchased said car, I am the owner of the vehicle. That changes everything!
Now it’s me who needs to fear for my freedom as a fugitive from justice. I’ll be jumpy as the policia pass us slowly, while walking on the street. And I can hear it all now in the announcers voice from Law and Order: Special Victims Unit ‘Where is the justice in going down for a crime she didn’t commit? <gavel sound> He did the crime; but she’ll do the time.‘
Its probably just a coincidence but I slept horribly last night, while Jeff slept like a baby. And this morning he offered to drive for our first adventure out into the countryside.
‘Don’t worry.’ he offered. ‘I’ll make sure the blanket in the back covers you completely.’
So now I’m hoarding nail files, watching YouTube videos on do-it-yourself tattoos, how-to’s on crafting a nice Syrah in a toilet, and boning up on Spanish prison lingo. Like I don’t already have enough to do – Ugh!