This has been the most surreal beginning to a holiday since I landed in Gambia during a coup d’état.. (ask @DaveEwington for more info on that.)After an uneventful flight with family and friends, on arrival into Valencia airport I was stopped at passport control. On the whole this is not totally unusual as I’ve a habit of being detained due to a strange travel history and my involvement in documenting politically sensitive stories. Today though I was questioned in a different manor. The two border guards although friendly appeared to be out of their depth dealing with orders from Barcelona. My lack of spanish and their lack of English didn’t help. After a tense conversation where I filled them in on my home address and where I was staying in Spain, I was given a piece of paper and told to report to the Barcelona police station. During my detention I tweeted that I may need a contact in the British Consulate and in minutes was inundated with offers of assistance. Thank you all those that offered assistance. Gordon (@125f8) had all the numbers I needed within seconds. Many others also sent me numbers and links. Mike @Sizemore phoned me and grabbed some info I needed offline and @goLookGoRead Conchita has been translating any information I needed sent via email through my phone. Although glad to get out of the airport with my freedom intact I was seriously phased. I am still not totally sure why I have to report to the police. It could be something to do with an incident that happened in Barcelona 19 years ago where myself and a friend testified against a local street criminal but were (off the record) told that we didn’t need to turn up to court as we had made statements. It could also be something completely different. It’s the not knowing that is doing my head in. On arriving at the villa I popped round to see Martin, the local pool cleaner/gardener/maintenance man. I had been blown away by the instant assistance from my online friends but now I wanted to connect with the local network. Martin told me that as it happened the local retired Lawyer Brian was in the area and could drop by in an hour or so. He did, and we talked about the infrastructure here, how people used to be stopped and questioned on the border all the time and that that foreigners often had to check in at the local police stations. He has been in Spain for 40 years though and was recalling not so recent times.
Brian, originally from Birmingham and more than a little worldly wise has dealt with the strangest of cases and comes highly recommended. Most of the budget I had prepared for this holiday was meant to be going on decent wine.. Not legal representation. I’m hoping that as Brian has now been retired for 14 years, he maybe sees this as more of a hobby project.I guess we will see tomorrow at 10:30am when we venture to the local police station to find out once and for all why I am on a list and what for. Then maybe I can get on with my holiday.