Sunday, 15 May 2011

El Gasóleo

I got some post yesterday that reminded me of a 1987 trip down to Northern Spain in my VW van. Another Welshman Paul Roberts had made his fortune (or so it seemed to us) with Cardiff Skateboard Centre at the height of the craze selling  £20 Coyotes to most of the population of S. Wales, then met a Spanish girl in The Canaries and moved to Sopelana in the Basque country. Since some of the boys had been down there the year before we bolted through France and started there.
After a first-night fiesta in Plencia that saw some of the crew sleeping in a potato field, we headed to Asturias through Ribadesella as far as Playa de Rodiles scoring some great waves before making our way back to Sopelana living on San Miguel, Menu del Dias, Pollo Asado, Vino Tinto and Sidra. On the way home we called in to check out Mundaka.

Just outside town we filled up for petrol and were stoked to see how much cheaper it was compared to Asturias. Then, as the van started juddering round the next bend we realised the difference between the words gasolina (petrol) and gasóleo (diesel). The red-beret wearing basque police stopped to help and we told them we thought we must have filled the van up with gasóleo. The odler guy said he'd go back and give the petrol station owner a bollocking for not checking with us first but wanted to syphon out some of the fuel first to check if we'd put in gasolina or gasóleo.

He told the younger copper to start syphoning out some fuel while he stood back and had a smoke break. When the youngster finally hacked his way through to getting some fuel spurting out, the older guy moved forward but as he did, he mis-flicked his just-finished cigarette butt and it landed smack in the middle of the pool of fuel at our feet.

As his cigarette hissed and went out in the pool of diesel, he looked up at us and nodded, "El Gasóleo!"
We slept in the van in Mundaka for 3 or 4 nights parked outside the local garage but had to clear out each day while they completely took the engine apart and cleaned out all the diesel. No waves the whole time. We gingerly drove back into France on four, then three, then spluttered on and off the ferry on two cylinders to get back into the UK where a selection of AA vans finished the journey home.

While we were in Mundaka, I had to spend most of the time on the phone to the inappropriately named AA 5-Star European Car Insurance folks, dealing with some customer-service guy who sounded like he was in Bulgaria. On the third day, after being on hold for about 10 mins he came back on the line to say he was having trouble locating my records and could he have my name again. I spelled my name out again for what seemed like the fifth time, P-H-I-L-L-I-P  R-E-E-S! After another 10 mins he came back with a heavily accented apology, "I ham sorry Mista Prees, I can not finda your file... can you please spelling name again?"

So 24 years later, this is what I get in the post. (I added the Club 51 bit)
Cheers Ian! Could be worse I suppose. 

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