Ok, where does one day end and another begin. It should be simple enough to work out. But it's another case of perceptions differing from one country to another.
The Spanish have a lovely word: madrugada. It basically means the early morning. There's also a related verb: madrugar. That's partly where the confusion starts because it can mean both to stay up late and to get up early.
One day last week, as we were going out early, I was at the breadshop at 7.30 am. "¡Que madrugadora eres hoy!" said my friendly weather witch. "What an early rise you are!"
Phil doesn't play morning chess matches unless obliged to because "no le gusta madrugar": he doesn't like to get up early.
Now, I need to be at Vigo bus station at 4.30 on Thursday morning. I have to catch that bus because the next one arrives at Porto airport after the gate has closed for my flight. So, although I will have to spend hours waiting at the airport, the 4.30 bus it is. Somehow I don't fancy dragging my wheelie suitcase through the empty streets of Vigo in the dark. Neither do I want to be phoning for a taxi at that time of day. So I got on the phone to make an advance booking.
If I were in England and asked to book taxi for 4.30 on Thursday morning, they would know exactly when I meant to travel. So I explained what I wanted in my best Spanish. And my Spanish is good. No empty boasting there. Years of study and practice. And everyone here, Spanish people, comments on how good it is. A taxi for Thursday "a las cuatro de la madrugada".
Total confusion ensues. So, the taxi lady wants to know, is that the morning of the 25th or the 26th? A quick flurry while I find my diary to get the date right. The 25th. THURSDAY!
Well, no. According to the taxi lady that is still 4.30 in the early morning of Wednesday. Well, no, not technically Wednesday as such. The night of Wednesday through to Thursday. So in this case "la madrugada" is not so much the very early morning (of Thursday) but the very late night (of Wednesday). Oh, boy! Linguistic somersaults on a hot Tuesday afternoon.
I went down to the pool to cool off after getting so hot and bothered. The taxi lady phoned to confirm the date and time. We had the conversation all over again.
And she called again at about 9.15 tonight, ostensibly to check if I was paying cash or by card. Another repeat performance!
I hope to goodness I don't get a phone call at 4.30 tomorrow morning saying there is a taxi waiting downstairs for me. Equally, I hope there is one there on Thursday morning and that the driver doesn't think I meant Friday!
The taxi lady summarised the booking and it sounded right.