Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Spanish tourists

My plane was pretty empty today, so I noticed the only tourists to arrive on the flight. Before leaving the airport with the taxi driver, I looked back at them surrounded by men trying to convince them to come to their houseboat, visit their carpet shop, stay in their hotel, come in their taxi--all the tourist-starved businesses--and I felt concerned for them. Somehow they'd missed reading a newspaper and had no idea what they were walking into.

It was more than the usual scenario of tourists fending off unwanted hawkers; they had no idea the city was under curfew. So I went back and told them what I knew. They were from Spain and wanted to know where they should stay, or if they should believe any of the men standing around them. So I gave them some information for where they could stay, and how they should get through the city to the lake area. I was walking away when I went back again and gave them my phone number--they seemed in way over their heads.

At 9:13pm, they called me. They wanted to leave. But they didn't know how they could get a taxi back to the airport and no one at their hotel seemed able to find one either. The hotel they were staying at, I realized, was very near to some of the afternoon commotion; they'd probably heard shooting and tear gas shells being let off. Not to mention all the check posts they'd have gone through to get to the hotel. They were scared.

They didn't want to listen to the advice to wait until Tuesday before trying to leave, so a friend of mine helped arrange a taxi for 6am. Early enough to beat the protesters to the streets.

Hoping they make it back out safely. Hoping they're not too terrified to come back someday and see the beauty they missed out on getting to see this time around. Hoping that beauty is allowed to be enjoyed once again someday soon.

No comments: