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Sunday, 12 April 2009

My bus driver didn't smile at me

I landed at Malaga airport in Spain in the evening of 12 April 1979. It was Easter Thursday and there were no buses running so I took a taxi into the city and eventually found a place to spend the night. I wasn't to know that my hostel was right at the centre of the colourful and noisy processions that criss cross Malaga city every night during Easter.

I was on my way from Rhodesia to Swans School in Marbella to take up a teaching post and the next morning I staggered with my heavy suitcase to Malaga bus station. The ticket office was closed. A bus was parked outside with the engine running and a sign indicating "Marbella". I tried to pay the uniformed driver behind the wheel but he waved me, rather crossly I thought, to take a seat.

Perhaps he would take my fare at the end of the journey. When we got to Marbella and I tried to pay him again he waved me brusquely off the bus. I decided that maybe in Spain at Easter you could travel free on the buses.

I found out later that the Spanish bus drivers were on strike and the government had drafted in the police to drive the buses. No wonder my driver had seemed a little irritated.

Perhaps for this reason I am sympathetic towards visitors to Spain and thirty years on to the day I landed, I still find myself helping other travellers on the Costa del Sol.

PS: Things have now moved on and you can now do online bus ticket reservations through the gomarbella reservation system.

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