Chris and I then spent the next two hours navigating our way back into Baggage Claim and the Air France claims counter. Unlike most airports, the baggage claim area was back behind closed doors in the international arrival zone. At first a rather indignant information agent told us that we were too late and we should have made that claim back when we had collected our luggage from the belt. Luckily I was with Chris not only because he was able to translate and speak Spanish, but also because I probably would have strangled her. “Who the freak unpacks their luggage in the claims area to see if anything is broken???!!!!” I said in utter exasperation. “Come on. She is just being difficult. Let’s go upstairs and see if we can talk to an Air France agent directly”, he said gritting his teeth.
We did eventually talk with a ticket agent and she explained how to get back into the claims area where we would need to file a claim. So dragging the broken equipment (because the boom had also been severely warped in what ever event that had brought on my board’s demise) we eventually made our way back and found the correct office.
In Barcelona, the airlines don’t have a direct office to handle these sorts of claims. They all go through a third party that simply takes down the information and then submits it to the appropriate airlines. When we took out the board to show our agent the damage, the wide eyes and whistles from the other agents near by as the curious gawked in fascination, made my heart sink once again. Chris put a brotherly arm around me, “Don’t worry, honest, we’ll figure this out.”
Later that afternoon we finally checked into our hotel, the AC Hotel Gava Mar. The hotel was located right on the beach over looking the ocean, and off in the afternoon sun we saw windsurfers and kiters racing back and forth. As tempted as we were to go out and join them the reality of being awake for the last 36 hours really started to set in. So instead we opted for hot showers, a nice meal, and our beds.
The next morning by the time I became fully cognizant of my surroundings and where I was, Chris had repacked the van and sorted our gear out so we could manage a bit more comfortable drive north to Gruissan. We decided to eat breakfast at the hotel to not only save time, but also because it looked quite good! That is one thing about travel to Europe, especially Spain, they can put on a spread when they want to! I gorged on all the goodies, enough so that it kept me satisfied until dinner.
After breakfast we jumped in the van and headed to Gruissan. During our drive the Tramontain winds buffeted our van and the boards on top. Chris fought gallantly to keep the van on the road as we weaved through the countryside. I have to admit, I was glad he was driving instead of me. Eventually I began to recognize roads and houses, we were finally approaching Gruissan! Chris was eager to get to the venue, not only to check out the scene but also to put a board in the water and see what the Tramontain had to offer. Chris and I had been glued to the forecast for about a week prior to the race. “Forecast still looks dismal for the race days, but today is supposed to be rockin!”, he said. And indeed it was.