Monday, July 11, 2016

Surviving a Storm

The second year I lived in Spain, I lived with someone from church. It was her, her five-year-old daughter, and her elderly mother. They gave me a room and a part of their fridge, and I was allowed to go as I wanted.

A few weeks after I moved in, I went out with some friends, then started to feel sick. I went home and straight to bed.

Sometime that night, there was a really bad storm. During the whole thing, I had a raging fever, so I only remember bits and pieces, but here’s what I remember:

At some point in the night, the woman I lived with burst into my room, rambling in Spanish. I usually understood Spanish without a lot of difficulty, but because I was so sick, I only got bits and pieces. She said something about the rain, something about the ceiling, and then something about everyone going outside. In my very sick, very fevered state, my only thought was ‘outside cold, inside warm.’ I told her that I couldn’t go outside, and went back to sleep.

A little bit later, a man came into my room. I was so delirious that it didn’t even occur to me that I didn’t live with any men. My brain told me it was one of my neighbors, but to this day, I’m not even sure if that’s true. He started yelling at me, telling me something about water, something about holes, and something about firemen. Again, I told him I was too sick, and went back to sleep.

The last person who came into my room was a fireman. He told me I needed to get out of my room, and I refused to go. I really must have been out of it, because I didn’t even worry about why a firefighter would be in my room. I do remember that he inspected my room, especially my ceiling, before leaving.

The next morning, when I woke up, I had to walk down the hallway to the bathroom, and it looked like a disaster area. Turns out, there was hail, and it tore apart the apartment building. I was on floor five, and there were almost a dozen holes in the ceiling. All across Madrid, trees had been knocked into streets, and metros were derailed because of the hail.

Our ceiling after the hail

I woke up the only inhabitant in an abandoned apartment building, and I had no idea what was going on.

Have any of you had this kind of experience? Where your limited language skills put you in a situation you didn’t expect?