THE ZONA FRANCA STORY
This happened some years ago.
My friend Gosta and I were going on a business journey to Cadiz, Spain.
We were following up another collegue, Ben´s job. Besides, Ben was in a hurry going back home for a vacation with his family.
The route was: Stockholm Arlanda airport- Madrid Barajas Airport- Jerez Airport -and Ben would pick us up there for a car transport to Cadiz.
The journey started comfortably and perfectly on schedule at Arlanda airport. The weather was quite nice and the plane cabin crew was serving a most superb meal.
Well, decent for being a plane chew anyway.
But after a while Gosta was a little bit worried about himself missing his passport.
-Come on, I said, nobody leaves for a business journey without his passport. And you´re the last one of all to do that.
-Oh, but it´s true. My passport is missing. Now then he wouldn´t lie about a thing like that.
After reconsidering with me and asking the plane stewardess for advice we decided that the best way of handling the situation was to continue with the flight, sort things out after landing, see to that he Gosta gets whatever documents will be needed, let Gosta turn back home for his passport if that’s what it takes.
I felt it was time to play cool and calm down.
When landing in Madrid we were deleyed. How did they manage that? Gosta had to leave volontarily or by force with the airport Police. I shouted to him that I was going to Cadiz in advance to replace Ben.
But, at first I had to pick up my luggage. You can´t hurry that.
The only way is to stand in the line patiently waiting together with all the other passengers.
And what now? There I am, still waiting while all the other passengers are rushing towards their taxis, connecting flights, husbands wives or whatever.
Please, mrs airport counter service, what is this?
-Well, let me see, oh yes your luggage is being transferred to another flight destinated to Jerez.
-But that was quite opposite what they told us on the plane. We were supposed to pick up the luggage at first here at this terminal….
(What kind of argument is this, where is this getting me? Nowhere!).
So, away I go heading for the domestic flights. Extremely delayed now. In fact there is no way to catch THAT plane. It has already taken off.
Suddenly I´m in no hurry. I go to the Iberia counter to rearrange everything.
-Can I change my flight to the next flight to Jerez?
-Of course you can, sir. That will be tomorrow morning.
-Well but now what about my luggage then?
-No problem, sir. As long as you are here at Barajas your luggage remains here.
-Just let me have a look at the computer......
-No, I´m sorry sir-your luggage is on its way to Jerez...said the lady.
Well allright, what can I do about that? Not much. I will be stuck here anyway.
I would check what´s happening with Gosta, call him on the GSM phone maybe. And also prepare Ben for changing his vacation plans just for a few days or so.
Only, that GSM phones are not on the market yet, not for another five years or so. We used to have huge NMT phones with a reciever that is connected to a big black box that weighted 10 kg.
We needed cars to carry them.
And besides they were only working in very limited areas. Definatly not in different countries. No, Gosta might as well take care of himself.
CCTV systems were available, though.
I had no idea that Gosta and the Police were watching me most of the time. That I found out much later.
But I´m a guy with a positive mind. This is my first time in Madrid. I might as well go into town and find out if something interesting is going on in this place.
Now Madrid is situated in the very middle of Spain. It is a lively city with a great mix of people and the night life in Madrid in August is particular.
"Rodriguez" they call the family father that kindly sends away his wife and family to the pretty resorts at the coasts of Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca. Themselves often party all night long with all the young people
Nights in Madrid.
Nights tend to be late here. Very late. Thanks anyway, Madrid. I have a flight to catch.
There´s no way I´m going to miss this one.
I´m taking a taxi to the airport. Even mornings feels hot in August.
But everything feels as if it were under control. There is not one single person I know. Why does that surprise me?
Is Gosta maybe out of jail or wherever he spent the night?
Well of course he isn´t here, why should he?
Flying with a plane is no big deal most of the times. I arrive to Jerez later that same morning.
The city of Jerez (de la Frontera) is the center of the region where sherry wines are made. The name “sherry” comes from the actual spanish name of the city. Some english person named the wine I believe.
Another english fellow that neither him was a linguistical talent
couldn´t pronounce the name of a spanish royal princess (Infanta de Castilla).
And there followed another interesting translation.
The place in London called "Elephant and Castle" had got it´s name.
I´m at Jerez airport. And what can I say? I found a familiar item.
My suitcase is standing in the middle of the arrival hall. Accompanied by two really big guys with machine guns, but anyway. Would you believe it, they are giving it to me with two big smiles. I am in Jerez, but on my way to the city of Cadiz. A bus arrives with a sign like that. Handy!
How far might that be? I have really no idea but I feel it´s not more than two hours. In Cadiz I have no idea of where to go, but I see a factory with a sign I know.
This is middle-of-the-day-out-of business-hours and not much sign of anything alive so I have to walk for a km, but íf that´s what it takes it´s OK.
I´m expected, or rather was expected the day before. A foreman joins me for lunch. How noisy can a place be? Concrete walls and loud things to say.
Hello Ben! What are you doing here? Aren´t you on vacation? Have you heard from Gosta?
Not a sign of Gosta.
But after another day Gosta do arrive. And Ben can go on vacation.
And that´s the end of (this) story.