Sunday, November 22, 2009

Policia Encounters - in the wrong place at the wrong time.

On the morning of Wednesday November 18, we were packing our stuff getting ready to leave Gijon for the last time and head toward San Sebastian. Our car was parked a couple of blocks away in an uncontrolled parking zone so we could avoid paying for parking. I (Tim) decided that it would be best to bring the car closer and pay for half an hour so we didn’t have to cart all our stuff two times over to the car. As I approached the car, I noticed that there was an orange cone at the rear of my car and no cars parked behind. I thought it was just zoned off for no reason that I knew of. I got in the car, started it up and made an awkward three point turn and made my way on the right hand side, navigating my way down a lot of one-way streets mind you, to park the car closer. As I crossed the lights, made a left turn and took my time making my way toward the park, all of a sudden I saw in my rear vision mirror and little blue Peugeot 206 with a single blue light on its roof speed up overtake me and cut me off with all sirens and lights blazing, Hollywood style!!!! At this point I was feeling quite calm and thought they had just pulled me over because of the GB number plates. Four undercover cops hopped out the car and approached the car rather cautiously, one guy with his hand inside his jacket. At this point I began to feel a little nervous because I knew he was holding a gun and they were going to question me in Spanish which I knew little of. The police began interrogating me while I was still in the car and I couldn’t understand a word they where saying, just the tone. ‘Lo Siento. No Entiendo!’ (sorry, I don’t understand) was all I could say in the panic! They made me get out of the car and stand on the pavement. I was now really beginning to shit my pants as they were all very serious. I tried to communicate by speaking in very limited and broken Spanish and lots of hand waving only to have them tell me to ‘Be Silent’ and ‘Keep Calm’. This seemed to be all the English they could speak. They wouldn’t allow me to call anyone or do anything!!! I started to really sweat when one copper got my car and drove off. I thought he was taking it away!!! It was ok, he was only moving it out the road of traffic. Because I couldn’t understand them, who knew what they were doing with my car??? I asked what I had done wrong with one of the more helpful cops who told me (in broken English) that I had run a red light… I thought to myself ‘All this fuss over a red light?!’ I couldn’t even remember which red light I could’ve run? I didn’t see anymore lights… Finally after lots of Spanglish, more hand waving and a thorough car search, Sally called my mobile Hallelujah! I told her to get her butt down stairs with our passports and our Spanish phrase book so we could ask the cops what they wanted to do with us. One of the cops looked at our phrasebook with much amusement when he read the line 'These drugs are for my personal use'. We were told we had to follow them to the police station so with me in the driver’s seat, Sal in the back, cop next to me in the front and a cop next to Sal in the back, we made our way to the cop station. We walked into the station with all eyes on us… we felt so conspicuous! Spot the tourist… Not one copper in the station could speak English and they had no access to an interpreter! No joke! After failing to get in touch with Marcos at his restaurant we finally got hold of Adriana who spoke to the police and interpreted for us - apparently the police were looking for a couple of similar description to Sal and I who stole a car like ours with British number plates and were supposedly on the run in Spain… Lovely coincidence! I guess we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time! Unfortunately we had to go the police headquarters to sign a book to say they had checked our passports. After two hours with the police they escorted us to Avante Garde where Marcos works so we could pick up his keys so we could get our stuff. One of the nicer cops who had been the most helpful gave Marcos an explanation of our situation and with a very warm farewell he let us go free!... Yah! We couldn’t get out of Gijon fast enough after that. Good story for the Grandkids. One that we’ll certainly not forget in a hurry!

We ended up arriving in San Sebastian at about 7pm and hung out at the hotel for the night (we were exhausted from the day) before leaving for Saint Emilion, France in the morning.


Sal's bit: So I was waiting for Tim to get the car so we could pack it to leave for San Sebastian....'geez, he was taking his time! What the hell is he doing' I thought to myself. So I gave him a call, only to hear on the other end...'Thank God you called, I've been pulled over by the cops and I can't understand a word they're saying. Can you come down here with our passports and phrasebook!' So with a half blow dried head, I went down there with my heart racing the whole way. We were both a bit shaken up about it all, but in the end we didn't have anything to hide, oh except for the drugs lol, so we just stayed calm and went along for the ride. Because in the end, that's what it entertaining ride and a bloody good story.


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