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A Run-In With Luck and the Law
Sara and David set off on a birthday adventure that they'll never forget.


Courtesty of Sara Wilson
David triumphantly standing above the water reservoir.


Whether we embrace it, fight it, admit it, or deny it, the fact remains that much of life is based on luck. Luck makes sure that weíre in the right place at the right time so that we can experience the thrill of spotting Al Pacino leaving a fancy New York City restaurant just as weíre passing in front. And luck can even determine the outcome of a special day, as was the case on Tuesday, Davidís birthday.

I have been in Spain long enough to know that arriving at an intended destination requires a fair amount of luck. Itís not that the roads are dangerous or that the drivers are crazy. Instead, itís because our scooter does not come equipped with GPS and looking at a map is literally pointless. On paper, the roads look straightforward. In reality, numerous freeways converge and then separate, easily sweeping you down the wrong path. And everythingís connected by roundaboutsóthose European-style, circular intersections where cars enter from all directions, go íround then spew out in all different directions.

So, as we set out for the huge water reservoir with our beach towel and sandwiches ready for a picnic, I knew that we would need luck to be on our side. But when we couldnít find the freeways and we were still driving when we should have already arrived, I had a grim feeling that luck had been reserved for someone else that day.

The situation was getting desperate and I knew that we would need to execute a Plan B. According to a sign that we had just passed, Orihuela was only seven kilometers away. So I suggested that we abandon the plan of the reservoir and eat our sandwiches on Orihuelaís beaches instead. We got back on the scooter energized with new purpose, followed the clearly labeled signs until they led us to a roundabout and then abandoned us there, leaving us to turn around in circles.

Roads merged off in all directions, but none of them looked very promising. And just when I was convinced that this whole deviation would only prolong our suffering, we suddenly arrived at a small village and, miraculously, found a clearly labeled sign for Orihuelaís beaches! And not only was there a sign for the beaches, but lo and behold there was a sign for the reservoir, our original destination that we had given up hope of finding a long time ago!

We were back on track, the day was looking brighter, and suddenly we were climbing in altitude as a beautiful reservoir opened beneath us. We parked the scooter and joined the frogs, lizards, crickets, ants and bees and ate our sandwiches on a rocky ledge overlooking the water. We were alone with nature, content to have successfully arrived and very happy to finally be eating.

We enjoyed the view until the bees chased us away, and then we were back on the road, tempting our luck as we tried to find our way once more. Soon, we were lost yet again. However, it turned out that it was only because we were behind a big truck and couldnít see the sign. We quickly scooted around the truck and failed to obey a very obvious stop sign and pulled outóas luck would have itóright in front of two motorcycle cops.

As soon as I saw them I braced myself for what was to come. I knew that such an obvious traffic violation wouldnít go unnoticed by the cops that were now directly behind us. Less than a minute later, one of the cops pulled up next to us, passed us and pulled over. It was my first encounter with the Spanish police, Davidís second. (During our pre-scooter days, David had gotten desperate and borrowed a motorized skateboard that his brother had purchased in California, but never actually used in Spain. It didnít take long for the police to notice the foreign object, and, on Davidís very first joyride, he got pulled over by two police on foot who came running after him and asked for registration and insuranceóneither of which David had. They let him off without penalty, but only after taking a picture of the skateboard with handlebars and threatening to come to our home if ever another such object was spotted cruising on the streets of Torrevieja.)

So here we were, facing certain doom as the two cops circled around us, their latest prey. How cruel luck was to allow this to happen on Davidís birthday! As one of the cops took charge of the situation and started reprimanding David for not stopping, I silently practiced one very important sentence, a sentence that I was sure would be the key to our freedom: "Hoy, es su cumpleaŮos!" If ever I needed to speak Spanish, I needed it then to tell these cops that it was Davidís birthday. And, as David was meekly trying to defend his obvious traffic blunder, I opened my mouth and delivered my message. But they didnít even look my way. Perhaps I hadnít said it loud enough? I tried it again, but again, no one seemed to hear my declaration. Then David was saying it. This time the cop heard, but didnít seem to care much.

He was now asking for Davidís papers and examining Davidís international driverís license that was obviously foreign and checking the registration and informing us that it was no longer valid because the 60 days to transfer the scooter in our name had passed. Shoot. The potential charges were piling up and now I just sat silently praying because I had nothing left to say. The cop left to consult with his colleague. Together, they would decide our fate and I couldnít bear to watch. He solemnly returned and, without a word, gave David back his papers. There was a moment of awkward confusion, and then just like that, the cop let us off with only a warning to drive more carefully. Luckóbeautiful, sweet luckówas still with us after all!

As we silently rejoiced over having successfully dodged our uncomfortably close encounter with the law, I heard a voice behind me and turned to see a prostitute wearing nothing but a bra and a thong. She was one of the most scantily clad prostitutes I had seen thus far! And she had come from out of nowhere to join our little party on the side of the road. As she confidently sauntered up to us, I tried to make sense of the situation. Here we were nearly shaking from our brush with the law over a minor traffic violation, and here she was, clearly an illegal prostitute who had willingly entered the scene while declaring, with a snicker, "Looks like I have company."

The situation didnít make sense, but we left without trying to figure it out. I donít know what the cops did after we left, nor if the prostitute got in trouble. All I know is that we got lucky that day. Initially, we had lamented our bad luck of being pulled over on Davidís birthday, but perhaps it was our good luck that we got pulled over on that day and not the day before or the day after. Even though it barely seemed to register with the cop, the fact that it was Davidís birthday surely must have pulled at some heartstrings and persuaded them to go easy on us that day.

Sara Wilson is currently working as a freelance writer and lives in Torrevieja, Spain with her husband. She has kept a record of her adventures living abroad which you can find here or on her blog: http://sarawilson.wordpress.com. Contact her directly at wilson.sara@gmail.com.


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