Saturday, 15 May 2010

Coincidence and likely stories.

Well, the god of the volcano was kind to us yesterday and did not send a cloud of ash to prevent us from flying from Oporto to London as planned.

We arrived at Vigo bus station just before midday to catch a bus to Oporto, as we usually do when flying from there. The bus driver was unusually grumpy, growling that he was only going to Oporto airport, not into the city. No explanation, just a very grumpy declaration. He then proceeded to get even grumpier as another bus driver indicated to him that he was in the wrong bus bay. Lots of pipping of horns and a few moments of chaos ensued as movement throughout the bus station came to a halt. Our grumpy driver explained to the other bus driver via gestures, some none too polite, that another bus was parked in the bay he should have been in. Then he closed his luggage doors, to the understandable consternation of passengers, and moved the bus to the empty bay on the other side of where he should have been.

Eventually we set off and travelled without further incident to Oporto airport. There the TV screens on the cafeteria were full of reports of the Pope in the centre of Oporto. Avenida dos Aliados was full of people waving flags. We were treated to the surreal sight of several rows of priests all crossing themselves in unison. Someone had mentioned to me on Thursday that the Pope was going to be in Oporto but it had slipped my mind. This explained the grumpiness of our bus driver who was unable to follow his usual route!

The cafeteria in Oporto airport, by the way, is to be recommended. The staff are friendly, the coffee is excellent and they do a very good baguete americana, a ham, cheese and salad sandwich which is very good value. Eight Euros worth of coffee and salad sandwiches later we made our way through security.

Now, that WAS fun! We had bought tetilla cheese for our son and his young lady as they really like it. A friend of mine had given me a plastic tub of her homemade quince jelly, the perfect accompaniment to tetilla cheese. So, unthinkingly I popped it in the suitcase. My Phil and I went through the security check at different desks, at opposite ends of the line. I got through without problems with the cheese. Phil’s bag was stopped and he was questioned about the pot of green goo inside it. He, of course, was oblivious to the fact that the pot was in his bag and reacted with great surprise. Result: the quince jelly was confiscated and Phil narrowly escaped being taken away for further questioning. Oops, a close call!

Marching through the main hall of the airport looking for a screen to tell us which gate to go to, I heard someone calling my name. Now, you don’t expect to meet friends in the middle of Oporto airport but there was Amparo from the French book club. As she was en route for Brussels where she had a wedding to go to but coincidentally would be able to practise her French. After we got over our initial surprised, we realised that we actually knew we might see each other as the last time we met we had discussed crossing fingers, toes and any other suitable parts of our anatomies to keep the ash cloud away. And there we were, in the very same place on the very same day!

And so was someone else. I realised that the TV screens were not retrospectively showing the Pope arriving at Oporto airport but showing his plane right now, at that very moment, leaving Oporto airport. There was his plane on the TV screen and, oh, look, there it was taxiing along the runway before our very eyes. Well, that explained the lack of ash cloud. No way was Vulcan going to be able to defeat God himself!

Finally we were called to board our plane, some twenty minutes late. As we were settling into our seats and the scrabble for places to stow the oversized hand luggage came to an end, the pilot addressed his passengers. He apologised for the delay. Airspace had been closed for some time while the Pope’s plane got on its way. Impressive! Not only does Bento (Portuguese for Benito) arrange for God to hold sway over Vulcan but also over the usually powerful god of airline schedules. Now, that is power indeed!

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