HOBART HUGHES ........home


Sararda Familia (in progress)

The Train To Murcia form Barcelona

The thing about smelly rooms is they always surprise you. It happens every time you re-enter. You are doubly surprised because you think you could never get used to that and at the same time you know that you have and will again. This happens every time you re enter always the surprise and always you wonder that you cannot prepare for it. The backpacker hostel only had three separate rooms and they were all on the premium floor, which in non-European countries is the first floor. In this case however there was a ground level outside my window with a fence and a suspended backyard. Since the building was, as nearly every building in Barcelona is five stories high you were at the bottom of a light well. This made drying the room out difficult. Yes the room was extremely wet. The reason for this is that the shower pan and curtain were so small that to shower you had to keep your arms either down or up or wash by doing that groping yourself movement you do when you are pretend kissing someone to people behind you. You try to wash this way with the curtain closed briefly then rip the shower curtain open. Most bathrooms catch the water that lands on them and drains it into a hole in the floor. This one just directed it into the main bedroom. This was the cause of the damp rotting foul smell in the room. Even so it was impossible to dislike the owner. He lit up rooms with a steady and consistent bubble of good humour.  I’m not talking about an annoying happy chappie annoying presence. He was genuinely charming, funny and warm. The wireless Internet didn’t work but he told me the one place you could sit in the tiny foyer in order to get connected through a hapless, passwordless wireless router from the somewhere nearby hotel. He offered me to leave my bags behind the counter free, something that he charged everyone else for. Apparently he liked me because I was an artist. How could you hate this smelly room man?  I needed the Internet, as I didn’t know where I was going to sleep the next night and I had a train to catch in two hours time. The week in Barcelona had been eventful. Most of my camera gear to make my film had been stolen and it was not insured.  I’d been working on a friend’s film. I offered to do some animation as a kind of second unit.  The director liked this idea but what they needed was a person to lug the tripod. In exchange I got a room and fed for the week. In between my assistant camera stints I shot as much animation as I could. I can’t easily sum up this experience, as it was simultaneously exciting and exhausting, boring and thrilling, challenging and painful. At the end of a week I was sick of lugging and dead keen to start my own work.  I was heading into the unknown territory.
Say what you like about speed convenience what have you for me nothing beats the odd constrained freedom of a train. I got to Sans Station in Barcelona about an hour earlier than necessary. I was that keen to leave Barcelona even though my stay was full of the extortionary. It’s July and there are so many tourists, yes me amongst them, but what can you do in the face of a tidal wave of youth. Barcelona and Europe is backpacked in like sardines.  I was pretty keen to get somewhere away from all these people. I was heading to meet a team of archaeologists in what I suspected was going to be a dry and dusty valley north of Murcia to the town of Caravaca de la Cruze.  I was finally starting my film and it was all up for grabs. Either I’d make a total mess of the whole thing or somehow it’ll all come together. It took ages to get into the train owing to some stuff up at the gate. Once they released the Spanish pubic and hapless tourist down the galley way to thew platform there was no stopping them. A businessman took the window seat from Valencia.  I didn’t care too much as the windows were so large when compared to those pathetic pressure holes you have in planes that there was plenty of space for all. Beside I thought I’d go to the dinner car as soon as I felt it as right. By the time I did get there I’d been beaten to all the good seats by a gang of Russians. Worse that just a gang they were a family gang. Look I’ve got nothing against the Russians or anybody else for that matter. The thing that got me about this gang was their sitting technique. Space, being the final frontier between the world and us is very important. Their technique was to sit at extreme oblique angles. The shock of four large bodies in haphazard diagonals was overwhelming. It was a moment of defeat until I saw a customer at the end of the bar reach for change. I dove for position before anybody else could claim this prime position. I had a counter a stool that swivelled and a height advantage over the Russians. Get the high ground is the golden rule in any campaign. The coffee I ordered was good for at least an hour if I didn’t past half way through the cup in the first ¾ of an hour. Weapon was tricker, I could go get my laptop but this was obviously way overkill for this situation. The camera was going to be a standby anyway as I needed shots of the passing landscape. Really however in the end I whipped out my notebook. I could be writing anything after all. It was the dark glasses of tourist warfare. The Russians had Russian and they wasted no time in staring at me and firing off a series of comments laces with smirks and gruff of humour. They were not afraid of this skinny Englisher. The vivid bays of the coast south of Barcelona slipped by and I was really lost in a heady brew of travel lust. A perfect half hour slipped by without me noticing the Russians. The leader was in a cream suit with gold buttons. Who could ever make that up I thought. He was on to me in an instant. He alerted the crew that the Englisher was watching and taking notes. I’d been trying to write something about the series of bays but I was so much more drawn to trouble. Once they had all made a small comment I quickly noted down what they had on. Diagonal striped dress that lay so that it made vertical stripes for the mother, the cream suit white shoes and huge watch for the father, the hoodie tracksuit  for the son. Seeing this they focused some very long slow staring pans across my frame. It was so obvious they were searching for the perfect putdown line that I responded by glancing at them one at a time and scribbling madly notes
smiling outwardly as I did so. So the battle commenced and it raged for maybe fifteen minutes.  Suddenly the big pappa Russian in the cream suit picked up a little Spanish boy transforming himself into lovely daddy bear singing a folk song.
At this I internally claimed victory having transformed the enemy into cute bears. Oh well not quiet the young very fat Russian boy rolled over in his seat and dove into his game boy disgusted and embarrassed by his parents surrender.