never before has a trip started quite like this one.  i am safely in spain, amid a cheery throng of cephalopod enthusiasts, soaking up the sun, atmosphere and geeky presentations.  the architecture is admirable, the signs diverting (you are correct – photos to come), and the meals late and prolonged.  i am settled in a nice hotel three blocks from the conference venue and it seems to be safe to wander around town gawking at things and taking photos.  in summary: loving it.

however.

the way here has not been exactly smooth.  my accommodation in particular seems cursed.  on the morning i left new zealand, i tried to confirm that the deposit i wired to england for a week-long flat sublet in london had come through.  the email bounced and the website on which i had previously accessed info on this flat had been removed ‘for legal reasons.’  with a sinking feeling in my stomach, i called the bank; in the meantime the pebbles discovered a warning posted online a few days earlier, by someone else who had been scammed by the same person.  so although i am still trying various avenues to recover my £308, i suspect it is gone.

thus unburdened, and after making a fraud statement at the bank, i ran around like a headless chicken for the remaining two hours at work, packing specimens, dissecting gear and other international travel necessities.  i spent the afternoon packing at home and stocking up on a month’s worth of kitty cuddles, then had a lovely dinner at our neighbourhood italian restaurant with bumbly and gizmo.

my four flights were long (12, 11, 2, 1 hours, for a total of 36 in transit) but uneventful, apart from being told on the last leg that taking photos out the window of the plane was prohibited.  (?!)   fortunately at that point i had already taken most of the ones i wanted – see previous post.

as we descended into vigo, the evening sun and 31-degree heat of madrid gave way to low-hanging and extremely productive rainclouds.  there was not much to be seen on the taxi ride into town, but plenty to see when we arrived around 9.30pm at my hotel (booked and paid several months in advance), in the form of a firmly shut roll-down door and signs that apparently said ‘closed for refurbishment.’  after a rather labored conversation with the driver, making good use of my spanish dictionary/phrasebook, i was taken to another hotel nearby, where another very slow conversation with a lot of fumbled page-turning, apologetic shrugging and confused head-shaking yielded me a key to my very own room.  although somewhat joyless, the place was clean and included a bathtub, which i made good use of.  the shower apparatus reminded me of france, the bed was hard enough to do sit-ups on, and there was no clock (a fixture of apparently lower priority than the included ashtray), but i had a door to lock and a place to lie flat.  i did both and slept hard.

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