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Lemonade, floor cleaner and fuel

Our final 24 hours in Spain went slightly less smoothly than the rest. En route to La Granja, Keir wanted to stop in Segovia to see its cathedral, and since Saturday parking was a total nightmare I volunteered to mind the car while he did so. Because it was so hot, I thought I'd slake my thirst with a bottle of lemonade that I'd bought for a change from all the agua con gas we'd been drinking. I was so thirsty that the first swallow was substantial - and revolting. Looking in disbelief at the lemonade-shaped bottle, which was lemon-coloured and covered in lemon photos, I discovered it was 1.5 litres of concentrated floor cleaner - friegasuelos!

This was unbelievably stupid of me, although I don't see why the supermarket had to shelve it among the water bottles, just to confuse me. It was worrying that the label told you, if ingested by mistake, to seek immediate medical help and phone an emergency number. This was going to be tricky: I don't speak Spanish, Keir was in the cathedral and the car was improperly parked in the middle of Segovia. After what seemed like an age, Keir returned and I 'fessed up and since La Granja wasn't far, I drove there anyway, feeling worse and worse by the km. On arrival, the Parador got no reply from the friegasuelos phone number and suggested their 24-hour medical centre. Finding it unexpectedly closed, I decided that self-induced vomiting was the only answer ... and had recovered fully by evening.

For some reason, Keir found the whole thing incredibly funny, and keeps making friegasuelos jokes and looked up the fateful square on Google maps and insists on calling it Friegasuelos Square. He also keeps pointing to lemon-themed bottles of various kinds of poison and asking me if they look like lemonade (they don't: the bottles are a totally different shape) and - the cheek of it - reproaching me for not having photographed the bottle in question! Oddly enough, I had other things on my mind than blog photos. I do seem to have become a bit accident-prone while on holiday (with broken bones or torn muscles on the last four out of four) but this was my first self-poisoning incident. I'll never drink straight out of an unknown bottle again!

Throughout the 10 days, our in-car division of labour had worked perfectly: Keir did all the navigation (some of it very challenging) and I did all the driving (mostly easy except the medieval city centres where "roads" sometime narrowed to two metres or less). The only tense moments were on our final drive from La Granja in pitch dark driving to catch our morning flight to Madrid airport. Although we'd covered some 1200 km over the trip, the car (a diesel C4) was frugal and with a range of 130 km still showing at La Granja I was confident we'd get close to Madrid airport on the original tankful. Although Keir mentioned the crossing of the Sierra de Guadarrama, the height he quoted was 1500 m and I thought we'd be OK.

We set off from La Granja in total darkness and climbed and climbed and climbed. By 1500 m the range had dropped to 60 km: it was falling faster than the stock market on Black Monday - each time I looked it dropped another 5 km. Finally we levelled out at 1880 m (6170 ft), by which time the range had slumped to 40 km - less than the distance to the next garage! I couldn't even coast downhill because the hairpins were so severe, but (as I hoped but didn't dare to count on) the range started to increase on the downhill, and we made the next garage with range to spare and considerable relief all round. Since we were in good time for the plane, I'm left feeling I want to return and drive that road again in daylight: it must be very scenic and without fuel anxiety could be very entertaining. And next time, I'd stick to drinking agua con gas.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 19, 2011 12:54 PM.

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