The Rain in Spain Did Not Stay on the Plain
Copyright 2020 by Jeanette A. Fratto
By the time
our bus limped into the driveway of our hotel in Torremolinos, Spain
it resembled a MASH unit rather than a tour bus of happy travelers.
Almost half the occupants, including my husband, were in various
stages of recovery from food poisoning, acquired the night before at
our last hotel. Four people in our group were too sick to make the
trip at all and remained behind under a doctor’s care. Illness
struck as we were about to begin our last week of a three-week
adventure to Portugal and Spain. The first two weeks in Portugal had
been wonderful, but as surely as the terrain from Portugal to Spain
changed before our eyes, so did our fortunes.
night, in the lovely Algarve region, gave no clue as to what would
come. We dined sumptuously at the hotel buffet while trading stories
of favorite places in Lisbon or Cascais. We eagerly anticipated
traveling to Spain the next day, leaving early by bus. We headed to
our rooms after dinner for last minute packing and early bed. By 11
pm our lights were out and I was curled up for a deep sleep, when I
heard my husband stumbling to the bathroom. This was not unusual,
but the sounds coming from the bathroom were. Never prone to nausea,
my husband was now well into its throes. The bathroom visits
continued hourly. By 6 am he was weak but finally seemed to be over
the worst. Gamely he prepared to be in shape to leave by 8 am. He
even thought he could tolerate a light breakfast. He couldn’t.
puzzled over what had gripped him, a knock on our door revealed he
was not alone. The elderly couple next door had also spent the night
developing a close relationship with their bathroom and were still
too ill to leave. They were waiting for the doctor and wanted us to
inform the tour guide.
breakfast, it was clear the tour group had dwindled. Those who came
to eat without their disabled spouses told similar stories of
all-night bathroom trips. This was not the ending we envisioned
after our two weeks in Portugal.
As the bus
pulled out at 8 am, minus four too sick to travel, it was a sorry
affair. When we stopped for a chicken and rice lunch en route to
Torremolinos, a special table had been set up with tea and toast for
those not feeling well. The rest of us able to eat the full lunch
did so, but we felt sheepish about it.
By 4 pm we
arrived at our hotel. I unpacked while my husband dived under the
covers, not wanting to be disturbed until morning. I joined the few
who were well for dinner in the dining room. We hoped the next day
would bring a positive change. Instead it brought rain.
early. My husband felt like his old self. We headed to the balcony
of our 8th floor room to view the Mediterranean
only mist and fog. But it was early. Things would get better. After all
this was the Costa del Sol, and we were scheduled for a
walking tour at 10 am.
approached the dining room for breakfast, but instead of the smell of
bacon and eggs, the smell and sight of water greeted us. A broken
pipe in the kitchen resulted in a flood. It seemed as if every hotel
employee had a mop and a bucket for the clean-up effort. We were
redirected to the upstairs cocktail lounge, where a makeshift
continental breakfast had been set up. We joined our fellow
travelers to muse over what would happen next. It didn’t take
long to find out.
By the time
we gathered in the lobby for our walking tour, a light rain was
falling. Our cheerful tour guide, Salvador, umbrella in hand, was
rounding up the group while apologizing for the weather.
unusual for this time of year,” he kept repeating.
by gathering storm clouds, Salvador headed for the outdoors with
about 20 game travelers following behind. We circled around the
hotel and into a charming street of shops and small hotels. The rain
was now a steady downfall. Those who had umbrellas carried on. Those of
us who didn’t took shelter in a little shop, which
just happened to have umbrellas on prominent display. We purchased
one and kept going. By now we’d lost sight of Salvador and his
merry group but were certain we’d find our way back. Our
umbrella gave little protection. The wind was whipping as hard as
the rain was falling, so everything from the knees down was soaked.
Soggy and cold, we made it to our hotel room, changed into warm
clothes, and contemplated our 2 pm bus tour to nearby Mijas.
continued to fall heavily as we left Torremolinos. Salvador pointed
out lovely landmarks we had to take on faith. The steamed bus
windows and intense rain made visibility close to zero. When we
reached Mijas, a torrent of muddy water cascaded near the main access
road. Our driver maneuvered until he could pass through the
ever-narrowing roadway and enter Mijas. Purported to be a charming
town, a 45-minute stop for shopping and sightseeing was scheduled.
Everyone refused to leave the bus.
not willing to give in so easily, promised that if anyone
wanted to get off, we would have our stop. Group pressure prevailed. If
anyone was brave enough to want to leave, they kept their
silence. We quietly headed back to Torremolinos.
hotel we were greeted by darkness. A power failure had turned the
hotel into a tomb. Disgruntled tourists were huddled in the lobby,
including our recently returned couples from Portugal. Having
recovered sufficiently, they took separate cabs to reach
Torremolinos, at a cost of $400 each, cash only. Still smarting from
that, they weren’t happy about being stranded in a dark lobby
with their luggage, unable to reach their rooms by elevator.
and I climbed the eight floors to our room and wondered what dinner
would be like. Cold food by candlelight? We were close. The hotel
dining room, clean but damp from the morning flood, provided a buffet
of cold food that we were hesitant to try. Could food poisoning
strike twice on one trip? Sure, why not! Although light had been
restored, it kept going out, leaving diners to grope for their plates
until the next surge of power brought it back.
few days brought more rain than sun. Scheduled village tours were
bravely attempted but not successful. Salvador, ever the optimist,
proceeded with each day’s plans as though we were all imagining
terrible weather. This, coupled with the hotel's inability to retain
electrical power for more than a few hours at a time, made for an
adventuresome, if disappointing, week.
final day in Torremolinos, my husband and I awoke to beautiful
sunshine, blue skies, and full-blown head colds. The view from our
room was breathtaking. Over red-tiled rooftops we admired the vast
expanse of ocean. We were determined to stroll the promenade along
the Mediterranean, even though bed for the next 24 hours seemed much
snapped pictures, sucked cough drops, and lamented the timing of our
visit. We were in a truly lovely area, clearly evident on this
brilliant day. Reluctantly we returned to our hotel to pack for the
headed to the Malaga airport at 6 am the next morning, it appeared
that another beautiful day was dawning. We were sorry our trip hadn’t
started a week later. Salvador implored us all to return to the Costa
del Sol. He knew we hadn’t experienced it at its best. We
watched through sleepy eyes as the city faded in the distance, pretty
sure we’d give it another chance.
husband and I, southern California residents, took a three-week trip
to Spain and Portugal. Although it started well, it went downhill
from there. It definitely did not stay on
have enjoyed writing
all my life, short stories, essays, and articles. After retiring from
a career in law enforcement, I wrote, and self-published, three
novels set in southern California, which followed the adventures of a
female probation officer.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher