I fetched my brown eyed girl and we headed back to the bar, no more than 3 or 4 blocks away. Once inside we picked a table and sat down, weary as two well diggers working double shifts with one arm. The same girl I believed to be a hostess served as the only waitress and she brought us a menu. She had a small diamond piercing midway up one of her nostrils, popular with 20 something females in
The music was loud in the bar so we yelled out the things that neither of us understood increasing the absurdity factor. We might not understand one another, but we were certainly going to talk loud enough to prove it. We ordered food from the menu by pointing. We had a small clue that we were ordering sandwiches based on the waitress pointing to a sandwich on a plate across the room and then pointing back to the menu.
Over the course of the next 2 hours I continued to order various things, including tea, coffee, pizza and sandwiches. It was my trade with the lovely girl and her boss for letting us sit there so long. She continued to try out her English on training wheels, accompanying it each time with her smile, good natured shoulder shrugs and long “ummmms”. Between food and drink orders I would run back to the apartment and pound on the front door hoping for a response that never came. I would then run back thru the cold to the bar to deliver my bad news. I finally laid my head down on the table. I don’t think the bar’s owner or our friendly waitress really understood our predicament. We had tried to explain, but the divide of language left us to remain a mystery in their bar. The bar owner was cleaning the bar and clearly approaching the time he would ask us to leave at 6:30 am. It was 6:15 am when he told us, by hand motions, we had to leave. No one else was in the bar. My sleepless marathon had reached 43 hours.
We walked out into a morning that was dark.
“But that night and the next morning, hurricane-force winds attacked -- uprooting trees and forcing a delay in cross country races. The weather turned gentle after that.”
BEG and I had lived out this nightmare in the midst of a near hurricane. No wonder the locals were a little testy with us! All this
We were headed back to the apartment at 6:30 am in the gentle weather described in the news account. When we arrived I decided on a new tactic. I went to the side of the apartment and stood below a second floor balcony. At the top of my voice I yelled out one of my teammates names. It went like this “Bill. Bill Collins. Are you in there? Bill. Bill Collins.” It was yelled loudly. I stared up at the balcony, my concentration focused on the sliding door. I had no idea what to expect. Perhaps another angry janitor with a mop? Within seconds none other than the requested Bill Collins emerged from behind the sliding door. He would tell me later that he had opened the door for fresh air no more than a few seconds before I yelled. He looked at me as though he were puzzled, as if I might be merely the ghost of Seven. We were saved. The apartment did indeed contain my teammates, and best of all we were discovered, urchins riding the streets in the midst of a near hurricane, saved. Finally.
Bill hustled downstairs and wanted to know how we got there so soon. He believed we would have to wait for the next day’s flight to
At the conclusion of the harrowing tales dispensed by BEG in a tumble of words resembling a confused cliff notes account, we were taken upstairs. We wanted a bed. We were sharing an upstairs apartment with another teammate Charles Allie and his wife Jackie. They were still asleep in their bedroom when we entered the apartment using the key Bill had saved for us. Bill showed us our bedroom. There were two single beds. Fine. Anything. He said, “Get a little rest, but remember you have to go the stadium and declare for your races sometime this morning.”
I barely responded. After he closed the door we dropped every stitch of clothing we were wearing (43.5 consecutive hours worth) and fell into the beds. Our rest would be short-lived, and the clothes would be worn again, but day 2 was mercifully over and we were horizontal.
Day 3 was peering at us over the horizon, its crooked fingers of fate pulling the sun gleefully up behind. The sun broke through the window at the head of my bed. I fell asleep with total disregard for the time of day.
(Photo 1 - Seven standing in the door of the infamous beige apartment building and its glass door )
(Photo 2 - My roommate/teammate, M55-59 400 meter World Record holder Charles Allie)