When in Europe Stories:The darkest hour is just before the dawn
The darkest hour is just before the dawn
“I found myself sweating amply while rushing through the cold, dark night for the fourth time in a row. This scenario will likely recur anytime in my month-long Europe trip. And Paris was just the fourth out of the 15 cities enlisted in my itinerary. My heart began racing as fast as my step until I saw a light beamed through the shadows of the trees. I rubbed my eyes to ensure that the letter sign was indeed an M. Yes, I finally reached the metro!
I got excited I didn’t even notice that I already arrived at Gare d’Austerlitz station a few minutes later. However, as soon as I saw the flab departure board, the excitement and smile on my face faded.
CANCELLED, it read.
I shook my head in disbelief. “Don’t tell me I have to sleep here?”
I asked the staff when he revealed that the train en route to Andorra will resume at 6 AM. It was just 9 PM. My thoughts were clustered with ideas on how I will spend the night. He pointed me in the direction of an area filled with people waiting with their luggage. My eyes closed as soon as I sat down in the waiting room.
After three hours or so, I woke up to someone tapping on my shoulder.
“Ma’am, we have to close now.” I looked up and saw no one in the room except him.
“Seriously? Where will I go now?” I wondered.
Upon exiting, I suddenly felt the painful, crisp air blowing against my face. A young man, carrying a suitcase, passed by me. I followed him unwittingly, which led me to a large lobby occupied by a couple. There I stayed until a police officer with his sniffer dog that is as big as him came up to ask us to leave. The couple began to beg him to let us stay but he ignored.
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In the dead of the night, I sat in full squat outside the station, folded my arms across my backpack and pushed my face down into it. My euros were useless at this point. I was a few meters apart between the young man and couple who kept standing while rubbing their hands. This was the worst scenario I was avoiding: to be stuck outside the freezing November night like a homeless child.
“I might catch my death afterward that is if I’ll survive until dawn” I reflected.
Before long, the blonde lady wearing green coat approached me, patted on my back and said (in Spanish) that whatever happens, they’re just right there. Then, she handed me a candy.
“Gracias” I replied.
“Habla Español?”. I nodded smilingly.
She returned my smile and went back to her partner. Her kind gesture warmed my heart despite the brutal cold in the wee hours of the morning.
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During the 3-4 hours hell time out there in the cold ( if these European travelers are used to this temperature yet they struggled, what more to someone from the tropics like me?), constant noises and shouting from some random, crazy black guys were our distraction from the silence. There was even one, dark guy who came to our place. I thought he will approached us. But good thing, he didn’t. During this time, I ran and sought the company of the couple. I was frightened.
Instead, he just kneeled in front of the closed door, and prayed in his loud voice. He didn’t stop doing so until he got tired perhaps 15 minutes later. This was the second place where I saw a black man talking alone and aloud in the street. The first one was in Belgium. What’s going on in Europe man?
To the Spanish girl, gracias por su amabilidad. I forgot to ask for her name since we were busy talking about where we are from and of course, about the current situation that we’re in. Appreciate I met kind people like her. ”