When living abroad minor obstacles can loom larger than they should. That’s how I felt trying to help my friend and first U.S. guest get a taxi in the middle of the night.
My friend Linda was visiting for just two and a half days. She needed to get back to Barcelona for a morning flight to the States. The earliest train wouldn’t get her there in time and we didn’t want to cut our visit short by one day. There were short hops by plane available early in the morning but when we went to book they had disappeared. So finally, with some trepidation, Linda resorted to booking a bus journey. And she'd need a taxi at 3:30 a.m. to get to the bus station for her 4:00 a.m. departure.
I’ve had only one experience with taxis in Valencia. Jamie and I flagged that driver down on a busy street in the middle of the day. This was different. It was 11:30 at night and we were trying to figure out how to order a taxi for pick-up in a few hours.
We Googled taxi companies for phone numbers and started dialing. Now 11:30 isn’t that late on the Spanish timeclock, but Linda wasn’t getting any answers. Then I noticed that the online reservation forms aren’t manned in the middle of the night and started to worry. If no one was answering and you can’t use an online reservation -- can you even schedule a taxi at that hour?
That’s when I got the idea to call the Westin Hotel, just down the street from us. I talked with an English-speaking desk clerk who assured me the taxis run 24 hours a day. But my -- avoid using Spanish on the telephone at all costs --idea of catching a taxi at the hotel was nixed. There aren’t any taxis that sit outside the hotel. They have to call a taxi for their guests the same way I should.
We opened Google again and systematically started going down the list of taxi companies. I still hoped I wouldn’t have to expose my Tarzan/Spanish speaking skills (me taxi need go airport) and could make a request in writing. This information was on the contact page for Radio Taxi Valencia:
Sólo atendemos peticiones inmediatas de taxi desde este formulario
de 9:00 a 20:00 h. (lunes a viernes) Para pedir un taxi las 24 horas, llame al 96 370 3333
For non Spanish speakers it says,
“We only serve immediate taxi requests from this form from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Monday to Friday) To order a taxi 24 hours a day, call 96 370 3333"
So it was obvious they operate 24 hours a day -- and that I was going to have to make that dreaded phone call.
I dialed. Someone answered. I asked if he spoke English. He didn’t.
So, with no easy out, I carried on. I was sitting in front of the computer and I probably could have done a better job of it with Google Translate but I didn’t even think of that. I just winged it. And when I hung up I was elated. My first telephone conversation in Spanish!
But I wouldn’t know if I had done it right until a cab showed up on our doorstep at 3:30 a.m. And we hadn’t left ourselves any time to try Plan B. In the end it all worked out.
The driver was here exactly at 3:30 and Linda was headed to the bus station on time. For me, it was another first for my GentleCycle life in Spain. I felt like a language superhero.