In September, we drove over the Alps, once again. Small hints of the approaching winter followed our trip. In the Brenner pass we saw some snow on top of the mountains. Austria had got 40 cm of snow the previous week but a new heat wave had melted most of it. In Italy the camping site closed their beach, only because the calendar showed the end of the summer season. For us, the +26c water of the Mediterranean sea was warm enough, so we drove to France where beaches were still open. Perhaps it was due to long days at the beach, or perhaps the onsetting autumn, but when we finally reached Spain, we all had ‘flu.
It took me a while to find the huge packet of tissues I had bought in Switzerland earlier this year, but it was well needed. On the day we had to build our booth at JOKOS convention, I was feeling so ill the guys had to manage without me. Fortunately Ruymán arrived to help as during the fair, so I didn’t have to talk so much.
|Väinö playing Half Pint Heroes.|
The JOKOS event was very small and we were the only foreigners there. Väinö had time to look at other booths and learn new games. He’s a fast learner and arrived back to our booth with a free copy of a game: he had beaten the guy presenting the game on his first try. On the last day there was a Half Pint Heroes tournament. Two Spanish men and Väinö were the only participants. After two rounds, it was already clear who would win. When Väinö got his prize I comforted the men that at least they managed to play the whole game and not lose in six rounds…
|Timo presenting Perdition's Mouth to Sandy Petersen in Cordoba.|
When the Northern parts of Finland got the first snow of this winter, we were sweating in +30c in Valencia. We met our friend Paco, and I was brave enough to cook paella for a Spaniard. Väinö had already recovered from the flu, but Timo and I were coughing badly. Paco got us some medication from the pharmacy.
We tried to rest but a good night’s sleep with a cough is nearly impossible. So perhaps I wasn’t very patient that evening, when we went to present Perdition’s Mouth: Abyssal Rift at a local store. We were running late and needed a parking place for our van. Eventually I found one and sent the coordinates to Timo, who was driving around the streets. While I was standing on the parking spot waiting, a Spanish man decided he would take the space. He almost drove over me, and when I refused to move, he called the police. At that point Timo arrived and tried to reverse into the space, but the other car was blocking his way. A nice local guy told the Spaniard there was another free space just up the road. His car would fit there but not our van. The guy just wouldn’t listen, though.
I couldn’t understand his behavior and stated that aloud, in my very Finnish, straight-talking, way. As I mentioned: I perhaps wasn’t at my best at the time. Dear Paco arrived to talk some sense to the guy but he was stubborn. Eventually he had to move his car, because he was blocking a garage driveway. We were able to park and go do our work. Paco stayed behind to talk with the police, who arrived a bit later.
I learned that reserving parking space is illegal in Spain. Anyhow, the police explained to the guy that these things happen every day with tourists and there is nothing they can do about it – and that they actually have better things to do than solving parking problems.
Spanish Health Care
|The fair in Cordoba was held |
in a medieval building with fountains.
The Spanish ‘flu we got wasn’t as bad as the original, in 1918, but the cough was as stubborn and annoying as the this-is-my-parking-spot-guy. So, just before the Cordoba fair, Timo and I went to see a doctor. The receptionist at out camping site pointed us to a ”Centro de Salud” of the nearby village. The clerk there didn’t speak any English. We had to call to Ruymán who then translated our issue to her.
After about 30 mins of waiting we got to a doctor. She didn’t speak any English either. We were prepared, though, and had our symptoms written in a mobile phone, using a translation website - deepl.com. She listened to our lungs and gave us a prescription for antibiotics. We managed to explain that I’m allergic to penicillin. So she wrote me a different prescription.
In the pharmacy, nobody spoke English. They wrote the dosage on the boxes, in black ink: 1-1-1 for Timo and 1 for me. (Three times a day and once a day). I replied with a nod and the one word of Spanish I had learned: vale (OK).
The visit to the doctors didn’t cost us anything. We had our European health insurance cards with us and that was enough. One more reason to like the EU: public health care belongs to all EU members.
We had the honor to be part of the jury evaluating candidates for the Spanish game of the year. During one weekend, we played over 10 different board games from Spanish designers. We realised, not for the first time, how important a part of the playing experience a good rulebook is. You should always give your rules to someone who knows nothing about your game, for them to read. Before publishing.
We found some very interesting games, like Gretchinz!, a Warhammer 40,000 racing game. The tiny cardboard cars were delightful. I wanted to blast other players’ cars for much longer than the game lasted. The best laughs, we had while playing Mia!, It’s a simple card game but the rules have different variants.
Väinö liked Ratland, a lot. It’s a worker-placement game, where you collect cheese with your rats and try to grow your population. He was happy to find a store selling the game at the Cordoba fair and managed to swap one copy of Darwinning! for it. The designer of Ratland was at the neighbouring booth, so he even got his box signed.
We spent a month in Spain. Our road back north, towards Essen Spiel, went through the areas we drove through at the end of February. This time there was no snow but we could see the damage left by a recent hurricane. When we approached San Sebastian, I suddenly realised the scenery reminded me of Finland: hills covered with pine trees.
We have less than two months left on our tour but we will drive to Spain one more time, in November, for the DAU convention, in Barcelona. I will have a lot of unforgettable memories of Spain after this year.
PS. After I wrote this our car broke. Engine stopped working while I was driving. We need to find another car so that we can finish this tour and go back home. Also you can help us to solve this, pledge now, thank you!