Beautifully relaxed after a fantastic two week holiday in the sunshine, we end up rushing to return the hire car. I drop everyone else and the bags at Faro Airport Departures Hall, so they can stand in the check-in queue, whilst I return the car to the allotted park. To my delight, I find there is no queue. Just one car in front of me. The barrier comes up obligingly for it and it slips straight through. I breath a sigh of relief and let the barrier drop, then drive meaningfully towards it. Nothing. The barrier does not rise. I now have about 10 cars behind me. I take a deep breath and try to stay calm. I drive a little closer to the barrier. Still nothing. I panic. We are late as it is because we are travelling with a teenager who finds it difficult to get out of bed before 14.00hrs in the holidays and it is now 08.15hrs and the departure gate is due to close in 30 minutes.
With the sound of horns beginning to honk behind me, I get out of the car, which is very close to a newly built Portuguese kerb, which I have forgotten is about a foot high. Attempting to break into a run as soon as I my feet hit the ground, I trip over the kerb and end up sprawling on the pavement.
I am glad I cannot see the faces of the people in the cars behind me, as I attempt to pull myself up from my undignified position, but wonder if a) they are laughing at me or b) they are frustrated because I am keeping them from returning their cars and checking in for their flights. They are certainly not rushing out of their cars to pick me up, so I assume the latter.
Shaken, but on a mission, I rush to the nearest hire car rep, which is not ours. Speaking my best, albeit panicky, Portuguese and he calmly answers me in English. Our rep has apparently had to leave, because the reason I could not get in to the car park is because our hire car company has too many cars in the car park, so our rep has had to take a car out so I can get in. However, in order to retain some sort of order, the rep ‘who is not ours’ fiddles with the barrier and lets me in. By the time the rep ‘ who is ours’ does arrive, I am very late for check in. So, after we sort things out, I hobble across to the Departures Hall, a sort of running, limping action and we make it to the departure gate as they are calling our names over the loud speaker. The indignity of it all.