A Pagan Thank You

If it wasn’t already so obvious, I’ll just point it out again – I am pathologically obsessed with storytelling. I’ve been doing it since I was eight-years-old and after reading some choice creative non fiction by some far more established bloggers, I made a conscious decision to include some of my own creative non fiction on my new blog. This little yarn, which I had originally entered into a competition that I oh so obviously did not win, entails a memorable moment about my crossing from Spain to Morocco. I hope you enjoy!

Tarifa, Spain – 2016

Help me out you divine pricks, I shout wordlessly to Janus and Poseidon – I woke up this morning deciding I’d play pagan.

I watch the bus accelerate towards Cadiz – it left me on a sloping road in Tarifa with two mismatching backpacks weighing me down, the smaller of which hangs over my chest.

Wind picks up as I look around – Tarifa’s the place for kite surfing. It’s a mix of architecture, old and new, that’s been bruised by the elements. On one side are custard yellow bricks and on the other is peeling paint. My chubby cheeks are bitten by cold as I smell salt, courtesy of the Strait of Gibraltar and my gateway into Morocco.

Perdon?’ I ask an old woman, in a red raincoat, about to pass me by.

Si?

Busco…’ but I don’t know how to say ‘ferry’, which would be useful. I stand on the spot looking lost – it’s all I’ve been since five this morning.

The old woman politely gives me the ‘No I don’t know what you’re saying little foreign man’ (I’m a head and half taller than her) look, so I make the ‘Don’t worry, it’s okay’ five digit hand gesture before we part ways. My anxiety is firing up again.

I remind myself how convenient the ferry to Tangier should be, provided passage is void of warring waters – Janus and Poseidon, are you boys still listening? A lone, fat seagull flies over. Still smelling the sea, I walk what I think is south down a sloping footpath.

They might be little soccer fields – they’re small and look neglected, like my native suburbia.

I’m surrounded by several wire fences looking nothing like a ferry port which has me feeling defeated again and ready to shout at another random. A few men sit near the wire fence watching non-existent soccer games and talking old amigo talk. I’m about to leg it and become lost before one of them smiles at me.

‘Can you point me towards the ferry?’ I ask in English, hoping like hell either one of them understands.

The smiling man points at a building to my left – the door is wide open (okay then). I step inside, feeling some animosity, and find another man sitting behind a counter playing with his phone. He can’t be older than forty, has stringy brown hair and wears a woollen hoodie.

Señor Stringy and Woollen takes one look at me.

Hola,’ I start, ‘a man outside told me–’

Señor Stringy and Woollen doesn’t come off impressed – he looks at his phone again and I’m all out of Spanish (I just want on that damn boat to Africa).

‘I need help–’

Inglés,’ Señor says with a sigh.

I pause at the way he sighs.

So he’s not big on the English – he has a smug exterior going for him, but lucky me.

‘I’m Australian,’ I say back.

Señor looks at me again, his eyes going wide like I’ve offered him enlightenment.

Maybe a light bulb moment has happened.

‘Ohs-strah-lee-ahn?’

‘Yeah.’ My response is laced with some hesitation, but my animosity might be on its way out.

Canguro?

I nod – Señor Stringy and Woollen starts smiling like a crazy man.

‘Ah, Australian!’

Within the moment I’m not one of those Ingleses, which suits both of us just fine.

Señor is sharing everything he think’s great about where I come from – he mentions Melbourne a few times so maybe he’s been. I tell him Melbourne’s my home which makes things even better for this Spaniard.

I really can’t understand half of Señor’s enthusiasm and I want to get to the boat – he picks up on this and stands. I kind of make out that he’s going to walk me there himself, which makes me picture two old gods, one two faced and the other rocking a trident, next to me demanding that I quit my bitching, which leaves me smiling.

Optimism kicks in once again.

Señor and I step out the door.