The Road Best Not Traveled


To recap: We are in Spain on a house swap.

People living in our American abode spent the afternoon visiting the neighborhood mall.

We spent the afternoon in Spain nearly getting killed.

Explanation: We are in a town called Arbucies. It’s a quaint little spot roughly 50 miles outside of Barcelona. We’re very happy here. Today we decided to take a drive to a nearby town, Viladrau. The book said it was 18 kilometers away. OK, no big deal—18 kilometers. That’s about 10 miles. Easy.

Then we started driving. By we, I mean Catherine—the wife. She first attempted to drive a stick shift three weeks ago, when a friend brought her out for a spin. That didn’t go so well, so Catherine took a single one-hour lesson. Then she drove two more times with another friend. That’s it; that’s all. Now we’re in Spain—with a Ford van. A manual Ford van.

The trek to Viladrau was, indeed, 18 kilometers away. But nothing was said of the snake-like road that encompassed the entire trip. When I mean snake-like, I don’t refer to a little gardner snake lying in the ditch. I mean a long, twisted, curved, sprawled out cobra, with its body going this way and that; that way and this.

The wife was locked in—which was good, because my knuckles were friggin’ white. We made it there*, and she drove wonderfully. Coming back, however, was a different story. The wife still handled things extremely well—stayed on the right side, never landed us into a ditch. But at one point, without a moment of warning, an enormous white truck came barreling around a curve, half its body on our side of the road. I yelled, “EAAAARRRRLLLLLLL!!!!” (my nickname for her; her nickname for me. Long story). She slammed on the brakes—and the truck’s driver slammed on his. As we sat there, still as a rock, I looked at the wife and said, “Oh my God.” She agreed—scary as all hell.

But now I’m here, sitting at a table, sipping a drink, looking at my beautiful wife/chauffeur—happy to be in Spain.

* Viladrau—Seriously, one of the most amazing towns I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. Breathtaking scenery, architecture out of Venice … a serendipitous discovery. Worth the near-death experience.

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