It sounded like a good plan. Walking tour and end-of-the-week drinks with our group Friday afternoon. Leave before dinner with Traci and Sharon to walk back to Los Rosales and meet their driver who would take them back to Dubrovnik. We would ask him to drop me off at the train station. Leaving Los Rosales a little after 5, I would have a little time to kill at the train station before my train to Sarajevo, but it seemed worth it to have company walking back and a ride with my luggage. Almost too easy, right?
The hiccup was that Sharon, Traci, and I got back to Los Rosales as planned at 5:00, met our driver waiting on the driveway, but found the door locked. Who would have a key? Why wouldn’t we have talked about that with anyone??
Don’t worry. I’m sure the security guard is here. He can let us in.
Hmmm… No guard? Well, I think I saw someone in the building across the way.
I find the teacher in the next building. Sure, she says, I will find key. You can go. I can call.
Meanwhile, we are thinking. Are there other keys inside? Are there any open windows? Could we fit through the bars on any of the lower windows? Or the back patio sliders? Maybe we should go back and get a key from the group…? We did have 3 of them this week – where would they all be?!
Minutes later the teacher comes out with the phone. Mirna, she says. I take the phone. This is Kira. Yes, I know our group has 3 keys. I see. There are no others. I understand.
Ok. A quick check on the doors and windows. Sliding doors on the back patio are open, but we can’t fit through the bars (gave it a good shot though. My head fit through, but not much more). Upstairs window is open. We stand on the little wall next to it. How the heck would we get up there? We jump in the car. We have to find our group.
It’s only been 30-40 minutes since we left our group in an Ali Baba cave bar in the stari grad, but somehow the number of people in the Old Town seems to have tripled. And why do they all seem to be slow-moving and elderly? Traci knocks against a merchant’s table as we rush towards Ali Baba bar.
Yes, the hostess remembers our group. They left 5 minutes ago. She doesn’t know where they went. To that side, she points vaguely. We sort through all we collectively know about where the group was headed: 1) someplace with covered outdoor seating in a “garden” setting, 2) no view of the river, 3) walking distance, 4) not in old town, we think. Sharon practically knocks over a nun as we rush off.
30 minutes later, feet sore from running on cobblestones, having crossed the bridge at least 8 times, we are trying not to be desperate. Plan A, Traci thinks she’s seen a key we might be able to reach that would unlock the padlocks on the bars at the patio sliders. Plan B, we recruit a Roma child to climb in through the patio bars. (only much later do we discard this plan, realizing that once he had climbed inside, we would have to be able to direct said Roma child to find a key to the front door – problematic, not only due to the language barrier, but because we have no idea where such a key might be.) Plan C, we somehow get Kira into the tree, onto the ledge, and in through the open 2nd floor window.
5:40 finds me kicking my shoes off, looking hopefully at the birch tree and the tin ledge that goes around the building at the level of the 2nd floor. I easily reach up to the branches with a boost from Traci, but I’m wishing I had done more pull-ups. I laugh nervously, giddy with the ridiculousness of the situation. I’m not sure I can do this!
Traci confidently instructs me to stand on her shoulder, and in moments I am climbing from Sharon and Traci’s shoulders into the tree. Sliding over to the ledge, gripping the pink stucco with my fingers, around the corner, and I’ve grasped onto the open window! With a cheer, I easily climb in through the window, saying a silent prayer of thanks that Kelly and I thought it was stuffy this morning and left our window open. I grab my bags and run downstairs.
I feel relieved to be inside, but we still don’t have a key to open the front door. I have no idea where it could be. When I get downstairs Traci and Sharon are at the patio doors, peering through the bars. I’m rifling through papers on the desk, in the kitchen, opening drawers. Traci’s trying to tell me where she remembered seeing the keys to the patio bars. Somewhere on a keychain with a flipflop.
Good lord. There they are! I open the padlocks and the bars swing open. Traci and Sharon rush inside and by 5:55 we are loading our bags into the trunk. The Los Rosales teacher is standing outside with the driver. Mirna will be on tv in 10 minutes, she tells me. Great, I say. Let’s not tell her about all this. Maybe after.
Not much time to chat. We jump in the car, amazed that I’m still going to make my 6:30 train to Sarajevo. I don’t know what our companions think of us or what we did tonight, bug I feel like I’ve been on The Amazing Race and my team came in first tonight, despite our unorthodox approach. It’s amazing what the right team can do.
It seems to be a running theme on this trip. When the right people come together, unbelievable things can happen.