Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Have You Ever Spent Time In The Cargo Area of An Airport?

Well I have. And it basically looks like the end of the world.

After a week long struggle with the people at DHL I finally received my camera. But it was no small feat. Initially I was told that the camera would be delivered to my home in matter of days, after customs processed my documents etc.. Various women at DHL (some who spoke english and some who didn't) explained that the driver of the truck would phone me, and I would have to run home with 400 euros in hand (wtf? for taxes) to meet him. I waited all last week for a phone call I ultimately never received. This Monday I phoned DHL pissed. In broken spanish I demanded to know what was going on with my camera. To make a much longer and tedious story shorter, suddenly I was invited to go to the airport and pick up the camera myself. If I proceeded as thus the taxes would definitely be removed, according to one phone operator; would probably be lifted according to another. Clearly, information at DHL is maleable.
I told them I would jump on the next bus to the airport. Oh but wait, they said, you can't come today because the customs officers only work until 2:30pm according to one operator "Antonino" (who spoke no english), or 1:30pm according to another nameless operator. On the brink of losing my mind, I told them I would be there first thing the next morning, so help me god.
Yesterday I rode the bus to the airport and asked the driver upon arriving where the cargo area was located. He told me to walk 5 to 10 minutes in one direction and about 13 minutes later with the Spanish sun beating down on me I arrived at the entrance of this industrial wasteland to learn that of course, DHL was the last building in the complex and was about 1km down the road, right before you get to the big oil tanks. Perfect.
With sweat pouring down my face, I burst through the doors of DHL. I took one look at the man behind the desk, he took one look at me and he said to me, of course in Spanish: I know exactly who you are. My response in Spanish: And I you. Hola, Antonino.

Antonio ended up being my patron saint of the day. He graciously and patiently explained all of the paper work I had to fill out as if he were talking to a retarded child. Upon finishing, I was sent back through the industrial wasteland in the blazing heat to speak with an "inspector." Antonino told me to smile and nod and say yes and then I would get my camera. And off I went papers in hand. Instead of an inspector who I could charm with my ignorance and awkward smile I was confronted with an inspectora. I was invited to sit down in her office. I waited for the questions that Antonino had prepared me for but after 10 seconds of painful silence sitting across from a woman staring at me with folded arms, I realized I was going to have to plead my case: in spanish. This conversation will go down in history as the most horrifying use of spanish imaginable. Nevertheless, at the end of it all, she stamped my paper and then told me I had to go back to Antonino. My heart pounding from the inquisition I ran through the parking lot back to Antonio, smashed through the doors, tore past people waiting and smacked my stamped papers on the glass that separated me from Antonino. He laughed, told me: guapita, tranquilla, and to go sit and wait for two minutes while he got my camera for me. I had the biggest smile on my face when he handed me that box, and all of the men in this industrial airplane hanger started laughing at the pathetic, sweating, America girl who couldn't have possibly been happier to receive a brown cardboard box. I thanked them all, and ran out of that place as fast as my espadrilles could carry me.

And at the end of it all I got to wait for the bus with this lovely Joan Miro mosaic behind me.

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