It was 6:59:59 AM in the quiet Pyrenees town of Ribes de Freser. The soothing sounds of the River Freser flowed through the town — accompanied with an occasional tweet from an insomniac night owl typing fervidly on their smart phone.
Suddenly the tranquility of countryside was disturbed by the crowing of a rooster. It was as natural a wake-up as wake-ups can be — barring the minor detail that the role of the rooster was played by the alarm clock functionality of my mobile phone.
We jumped out of our beds — energized after sleeping off the tiredness of the Part I of our weekend in the Pyrenees. Teeth were brushed. Backpacks were packed. Shoelaces were tied. At 7:30 we were ready to check out of the hotel and check in to the glorious Núria valley.
We rushed out of the room, ran past the elevators, flew down the stairs, and were prepared to jump into the hallway leading to the hotel reception. Our hike came to an abrupt stop. The door to the hallway was locked. We had to find an alternative route.
We ran back up the stairs, rushed into the elevator and flew down the elevator shaft, and attempted to reach the hallway from the elevator side. No luck. That door was also locked.
As every experienced mountaineer knows, the most important reaction to a situation where the natural progress of a hike is hampered by external forces, is to stay calm — camp — and wait for rescue. We had no reason to panic. We had food and water that would last us for hours. We had absolutely no reason to panic.
As we were not experienced mountaineers, we knew nothing about how to react to this situation. We panicked. Oblivious to the dangers of getting lost when desperately trying to find a way out, we flew into the elevator, rushed upstairs, and ran down the stairs again — in the hope of finding a way out through a back door that we assumed to lead to the kitchen.
As we landed at the foot of the stairs, we noticed that the door to the hallway had been unlocked. We had been salvaged. We were safe. We were free. We walked slowly into the hallway and toward the reception desk — smiling idiotically — trying to look calm despite our obviously agitated state of minds.
Once at the reception desk, we were informed that it would not be staffed until 8 AM — or even 8:05. We had to change our plans again. This time we did not panic. We shrugged our shoulders, walked out of the hotel in search of train tickets and coffee — before returning to the hotel to check out and consume a delicious breakfast made of dry croissants, dry toasts, marmalade and yet more coffee.
With Part II behind us, we were ready for Part III of our weekend in the Pyrenees.