Tres Bagos part 2
Earlier on I’d noticed a pair of flip flops that someone had left behind. The beach was deserted by then so I ambled over to have a look but as I was about to get to them my foot smashed into a knuckle of rock in the sand and started to bleed so I washed it in the sea. While I was there, I felt a terrible pain in my gut and said sorry to the sea for my thoughts.
When I got back Grace had packed the bag so I asked if she’d like the flip flops and she said her daughter might like them so we stowed them away in the bag. It felt strange, doing something we’d never done together.
As we approached the car park I was relieved to see a few cars still around. While I was putting my pumps on at a chair outside the restaurant, I saw a Portuguese hippy girl asking a couple for a ride. When she was declined she came up to us and asked if we had a car. She was with five other hippies, all shrouded around backpacks. I told her we were in the same boat and she asked for some cigarettes papers so I flicked out five or six and then joined Grace, who was eager to start the trudge back up to Adraga.
Leaving the car park, I was in the middle of resigning myself to the walk when I noticed the couple getting into their car. I asked them for a ride and the man said they only had one seat so I suggested Grace could sit on my lap. They agreed so I got in the back seat and Grace sat on me.
It was at this time that I saw a surfboard lodged from front to back through the middle. The young girl was sitting in the back on the over side of the surfboard from us. The man, her doting father, for whom I had wished a bloody death on the beach, sat in the driving seat beside his wife.
We started conversation but I couldn’t really focus. When his wife turned to talk to us, my shame compounded. She had the most beautiful, soulful, natural eyes.
Her brother lived close by in the hills and they’d come to stay with him. She was a primary school teacher and her husband worked in the pharmaceutical trade. Two lovely German people and their wonderful daughter. Guilty of severe misjudgement, my balls retreated up towards my tummy.
Her husband was gracious when he asked if we’d seen him taking photographs of his daughter on the beach. He joked that it was just for fun, you know, but I could feel the blushing of his daughter’s cheeks.
When we got to the village this fine fellow insisted on taking us to the bus stop for Sintra, which was found on the main road. We pottered and weaved through the village and when we came to the main road, the man pulled in at the bus stop and we got out and thanked them.
Once they were gone, I looked at Grace and we laughed.
I knew that would happen. That’s what you get for judging the arse off people. Jesus, Grace and ten Hail Marys, one minute I want him dead, the next he’s our saviour.
Grace looked at me gravely. Where’s the bag?
I looked around. The bag? The bag. Haven’t you got it?
You had it.
Creepily, I’d known the story wasn’t over, that something else would bite us hard in the bum, it always does, but I’d mistakenly reckoned that being stuck in a car with my badly conceived nemesis was enough to recalibrate my karma. Not so. The bag was most definitely gone.
Grace listed the things in there; the prescription RayBans she’d just forked out six hundred quid for, her swimming gear, another two hundred to replace, the keys to the apartment, another hundred euros, her shirt, silk jacket, the towels, and various other beach things. All in all it totted up to about eleven hundred quid. The only thing I’d lost was the bag and an old pair of trunks. My camera, phone and wallet were in my pockets.
Looks like One For Arthur fell at the last, I said sheepishly.
Grace’s face wasn’t for sharing.
There at the bus stop I waited for her to throw a wobbly, but she didn’t. I’d wanted to know what she’d be like in a tight spot and here was the evidence; she was fine in a tight spot. But that didn’t alter the fact that the bus had just swooped past and we were marooned at dusk in the middle of nowhere with no key to get into the apartment on our last night. As darkness fell I turned away from Grace and looked to the sky.
Oh God forgive me for my thoughts.
Surely that would work, but no car returned.
Ok, I said, we’ll wait here for an hour. The brother lives close by and they’re German so they’re bound to get everything out of the car. They’ll see it there in the footwell and they’ll come back and all will be well, I promise.
Grace wasn’t convinced. What if they go inside for a cup of tea? Oh and look, if you hadn’t noticed, it’s pitch black. The bag’s black too. They may not see it till tomorrow.
That’s ok, we’ll call the restaurant at the beach. It’s open tonight and they know we were there for lunch. That’s one port of call, and then there’s this little hotel here where they dropped us off.
Grace looked up at the ramshackle inn and remained silent.
Don’t worry, they were lovely people. If all else fails they’ll probably give it in to Lisbon police as lost property. We’ll get the bag back.
After about twenty minutes, the man came back. When he got out of the car I gave him a massive bear hug.
You’re my hero! Here, Grace, give this man a hug, and she did very happily.
From tormentor to saviour this beautiful German family had entered into our lives as fools, rescued us, redeemed themselves to our shame, returned for our mistake and now they were gone again.
As the man left he asked if we’d got the damn bag and I returned his quip wondering who it was that said Germans don’t have a sense of humour.
The bus came moments afterwards and we got on our way again.