29 April, 2006

Missing the Boat

On the way back up to Rijeka, our boat stopped in Split for about an hour. Split is a nice, historic town, and we hadn’t been there yet, so we decided to get off and check it out while we had the chance. The scheduled stop was 50 minutes, so I checked my watch when we got off: exactly 6:30.

When we left the dock, John, Taylor, and Pete wandered off in one direction, and the couples in another. Michelle and I debated briefly, then followed the marrieds. We lost track of them, but that was fine. We enjoyed looking at some of the old part of town, but we were really interested in finding food. After wandering around a bit, we sort of gave up and headed back toward the boat. There was a row of various cafés and food stands on our right so I decided to order a chicken sandwich after all. As the guy working there started cooking it, I looked at my watch again. It was about 2 minutes to 7:00, so I figured we’d be back by 7:10 at the very latest. A nice cushion of about 10 minutes seemed sufficient.

As I was pondering these things, my phone rang. It was John. After the initial quick greetings (“Hey there.”, “What’s up?”, etc.) he asked, “So, are you guys close?”
To this I casually replied, “Yeah, we’re not too far, just getting some dinner.”
Then, in a more panicked tone, John said, “Uh, the boat leaves at 7:00.”
“Are you serious?”

The end of the conversation is a bit muddled in my memory, but that was the essence of what was communicated. I don’t think I said good-bye, or even hung up the phone. I threw it in my purse, somehow gestured to Michelle that we had to run, now, and after briefly considering telling the sandwich guy sorry and that we had to leave, decided against it and took off while he was still facing the grill. Sorry, Chicken-Sandwich-Making-Man. I only left due to the most urgent of circumstances.

Michelle and I ran. And ran. We almost got hit by 2 cars. Michelle tore off her flip-flops early on so she could run with more ease. People looked at us with condescending and bewildered expressions. A few shouted and made fun. Our lungs were burning. Our muscles ached. But we had to continue on, driven by panic, shame, and a glimmer of hope that we would not end up waving good-bye to our team and our luggage and our boat from an empty platform.

Finally we saw our ship, miraculously still docked, with sailors yelling and chiding us from the upper decks. Drawing ragged breaths, we climbed the gangway as quickly as we could. Our team was there, waiting, as we stepped inside all flushed and sweaty. Andy had nearly wrestled the captain to the ground to keep him from sailing. Tim may or may not have punched out 3 people who tried to raise the stairs before we got there. They looked relieved, worried, a little pissed off, and incredulous all at once.

Apparently we got to Split a little late, and the departure time was 7:00 regardless of the docking time, so our stop was only 30 minutes long. I guess there was some old lady with a large shipment of flowers from Ecuador or something who arrived while Michelle and I were running and somehow demanded that her goods be loaded. I personally consider that a miracle, because I think it is the only real reason the boat didn’t leave without us.

Later when I apologized to the rest of the team, they said they weren’t mad, which was nice. I feel loved due to the fact that they tried so hard to make sure we weren’t abandoned, and then were so forgiving afterwards.


monica said...

whoa, glad you made it on time! seeing as the only reason that i have run this last year is to catch the bus, i don't think i would have been able to make it if i were in your place. ...which is just pathetic and yet somehow doesn't motivate me to exercise. ...alexis, tell your big heart to keep up the good work!

Alexis said...

I just started running again in the last few weeks, partly because that experience made me realize how out of shape I am. Yesterday an old man cheered me on- it was amazing! That sort of encouragement makes me want to run every day.

monica said...

:D that's awesome! i'm becoming more inspired... ;)