Monday, September 07, 2009

Finding Ronda

I hauled my pack up to the window and asked for a ticket to Ronda. At last, I was almost at my first milestone, the Feria de Pedro Romero.

“Todo completo. All the trains are full."

My heart sunk. “When is the next available train?” I asked, angry at myself for not booking ahead.


Tomorrow?!  I learned this lesson before. Mai Li and I missed Amsterdam two years ago when we had to stay an extra night in Paris because all the trains were booked up. How had I forgotten? Now, after gearing my schedule for the past two weeks towards getting to Ronda on time for the festival, it was all at risk.

I tried the bus station across the road.  They said there is no route from Cordoba to Ronda. I was in disbelief at my predicament.

I realised there was a way, but it was going to be expensive: a rental car. When originally planning this leg of the trip, I abandoned the idea as unnecessary. Now it was my only option.

Driving from Cordoba to Ronda is not straightforward. Ronda is a provincial town, not a major city, connected by secondary roads in the centre of the Cordoba-Sevilla-Malaga triangle. You need a decent map. I happen to have an excellent Michelin map of Andalucia.  At home. From the rental agency, I got an A3 piece of paper demarcating the entire 90,000 square kilometre region, from which I could discern that I had to head south. Fortunately, I know the sun sets in the west.

Two kilometres after starting off I stopped at a petrol station looking for a map.  They did not have one.  After spending half an hour in the front seat of the car poring over tiny maps in guidebooks it hit me that I have Google Maps on my mobile phone. Not only that, but it provides explicit directions and distances. My salvation! I was out of Cordoba within the next fifteen minutes and on my way.

Of course, taking technology for granted, I didn’t count on the fact that 100km into the Spanish plains there is a rather complete absence of reception, without which Google Maps on my mobile phone is useful only for smashing against my head in frustration. Being lost in Cordoba is preferable to being lost in the middle of nowhere.

But where there are roads there are petrol stations, and notwithstanding my immediate experience in Cordoba, petrol stations usually do have maps. And what did I find when I stopped?  My excellent Michelin map of Andalucia.

The drive from Cordoba to Ronda takes 2¾ hours. I pulled it off in less than double that.

1 comment:

MilazzoMan said...

Wow, in a few scrolls of my mouse, I've witnessed gypsy curses imprecated and enacted, mapless wanderings in a strange land, technology (very predictably) promising much and delivering little, and the mysterious intercession of a good and kindly Parking Lot Spirit. "Canterbury Tales" for the 21st Century!!