This was the first journal entry I wrote, it was on the bus from Madrid.
Let me just copy the first paragraph right out of my journal, unedited:
“August 23rd: I’m writing this on a bus to Soria, a city I don’t even know where it is on the map, but it is where I’ll change busses to take my second bus to Pamplona; a city I know almost nothing about, again, except that they have a bull running festival there that hopefully I’ll go to someday. Anyway I’ll arrive at Pamplona past midnight, with no hotel or hostel booking. So hopefully I’ll find somewhere for tonight until I take tomorrow’s bus to SJPP, I really need a goodnight’s sleep today, been a while since I slept!”
August 23rd, my first day in Spain! Well, let’s go back to August 22nd; it’s when all the bad omens actually started…
Bad Omen #1:
I woke up early on Monday, August 22nd, too lazy on a very hot day in Alexandria, but I just make sure I have my credit card and go out for some final bank visits, followed by a visit to the tour agent, as I was told by my father that he has a friend working there who has already booked me the ticket and I just need to go pay the money.
– Good afternoon, there is a ticket to Madrid booked for Mina Mahrous and I just want to confirm and pay please.
– Good afternoon, what’s the name again?
– Mina Mahrous!
– I’m sorry but I can’t find any tickets booked for that name
– Oh! … Ok so I need a ticket to Madrid for tomorrow, August 23rd, please.
(At that moment I had a million thoughts running through my mind, I thought maybe I shouldn’t buy that ticket because of fear I wouldn’t continue or fail to walk the 800 Km, but then I remembered how much I needed this specific trip, and how weird my life was going that I needed to be away for a while…)
– Tomorrow? Mhmm Let me check… yes there are empty places, you are lucky! It leaves from Cairo at 9.40 in the morning.
– 🙂 Thanks! Ok and the return date on October 7th from Barcelona.
(PS This ticket, booked only 1 day before flying, cost me double the amount I have planned on paying, exactly double!)
– While I’m here can you also find me a hotel for one night, August 23rd, in Pamplona?
– Yes we have 3 hotels there, ranges from USD 100 to UD 143
– Ok Thanks 🙂 I’ll manage when I’m there
(or atleast I thought I could. I wouldn’t pay that much for just a night’s sleep and I will not even spend any time in Pamplona! Well I thought I wouldn’t by that time.)
The rest of the day went pretty well, met up with my friends, one of them who is a professional camper (his job), and he went with me through the list of stuff I packed. I had forgotten to take a flash light! Oh yes I did! He gave me the flash light along with other stuff (He carries a complete kit in the trunk of his Land Cruiser!).
Bad Omen #2:
2 o’clock after midnight I decide it is time to head to Cairo, I head the highway exit, go into the gas station which turns out to be closed, I go to the supermarket and decide to withdraw money from the ATM, which doesn’t work as well. I go back into Alexandria and try some other nearby ATMs, none is working! I only had EGP 10 on me, and the rest in Euros, and it wasn’t even enough Euros for a lot of days! What if my credit card was broken?! How will I manage my trip?? I don’t know what made me think that it’s because of the revolution and the – not very good – safety conditions that the ATMs are closed after midnight (non sense! But I just convinced myself it is so because I was panicking!)
Bad Omen #3:
I call a friend who lives all the way to the other side of Alexandria and ask him to lend me money so I can put gas to go to Cairo. And on my way to his place I check the gas stations on the way, all closed! Now I was really panicking! There was no way the less than ¼ tank I have left would get me to the airport, a 4 hours drive! A 4 HOURS DRIVE!! Its 3 after midnight! Now I might be late if Cairo had some traffic (which is very common in Cairo!)
I finally find a working gas station which was actually out of my way and I was very reluctant on spending the few liters I have left on going and checking it! I reach my friend’s place, take the money and rush back to the only working gas station, fill my tank and rush back again to the highway.
Good Omen #1:
Its 3.30 in the morning, I have been up since 9 in the morning so I was getting a bit sleepy. I decide to stop in a pickup coffee place. I try the ATM there and it works! I grab the coffee and rush back to the car.
Bad Omen #4:
Get in the car, put the large cup of coffee in the cup holder, doesn’t work perfectly. OUCH that is steaming hot! Its spilled all over my white t-shirt, which by the way was supposed to be my main walking t-shirt and I only had 3 t-shirts with me anyway!
Bad Omen #5:
I’m actually starting to think that everything is telling me not to go, to head back and just forget about the whole thing! I decide that if one more thing happens I will not go!
Sip of my coffee, another sip, the road gets a little bumpy and I choke.
GOD DAMN IT! I’ll go back! … but I just paid over EGP 5000 for the plane ticket…ok, one more sign and I will seriously go back, anything that goes wrong in the airport, maybe a flight delay or even a speeding ticket on the way to the airport and that would be it.
But I actually reach the airport, meet up with my dad, give him my car and change my t-shirt. He gives me a plastic bag full of medicines (you can’t blame him, we’re a family of pharmacists!) and I keep on asking him why he brought so many stuff, but little did I know, this bag proved to be a life savior!
I check in and go for the flight, everything goes smoothly after that. Or atleast only until that time I was writing this journal on the bus to Soria, I had no clue what was awaiting me after that… and how there were more bad omens waiting for me in Pamplona!