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Confessions of a Property Manager

Hi, I'm Lisa and in my blog I'm going to be spilling the beans on what it's really like to be a property manager in Spain looking after other people's properties. Your wouldn't believe some of the things that I see and happen to me. I'm going to be telling you all about it!

Benalmadena Coach Crash
20 April 2008 @ 12:24

Property Management and Rentals aside I woke up this morning and couldn’t stop thinking about the families who lost a loved one in the awful coach accident near Benalmadena. I feel a little spaced out as last night I was sitting in the service station a few kilometres from the crash, in fact in all probability the driver who has now been declared responsible for the accident probably overtook me.   
 
This was my night:
 
My father and his wife were due to arrive at Gibraltar airport and whilst I had my children at a birthday party my husband was meant to pick them up. I received a call to say that they had been diverted to Malaga due to bad weather; I later heard that it was due to high winds and then loss of radar. The information desk told my husband that they would be bussed down to Gib and they would expect to be there around 10pm.
 
My two children were so excited to see their granddad that I thought it would be better to collect him from Malaga, he could chat with them on the journey home so I told my father to collect his cases and wait in the café in arrivals but as I was unsure of the procedure, I told him to call me before I set off to make sure that his cases weren’t automatically sent to Gibraltar. 
 
The party was in Manilva and I pulled the car over deliberating whether to take the toll road from there or to go home and wait for his call. I tried to call him several times, thinking, if I got an answer now I could just take that toll road and I would be there quicker. In the end I made the decision to head home and 2 minutes down the Manilva bank he phoned and said that they were waiting in the café so I drove on and picked up the toll road at Estepona, thinking the Manilva toll would have been quicker – but never mind.
 
Heading towards Benalmadena I checked the time – 7.48 - I reckoned I would be there around 8.00pm. I passed the Benalmandena “Arroyo de la Miel” junction and the next thing I see is a man standing at the side of the road waving his arms like mad. Two things instantly go through my head, one – he is a nutter and gets his kicks from scaring drivers -  two – there is some blockage ahead and I should be cautious. Being one always to err on the side of caution I slow down, I can now see the cars in front have their hazards on so I do the same and eventually just short of the service station we come to a stand still. 
 
We wait and wait, there is no movement in the line of traffic at all, then we hear sirens, 2 061 ambulances race up the other lane, then more sirens, I have to move my car over so an ambulance can get through. The children are quiet, I think like me they sense something is bad. Some cars are going down the outside lane and heading into the service station, I wonder if there is a small road which can get me down to Benalmadena and I can take the coast road to the airport so I leave the lane and head into the service station. More sirens, more ambulances, I think this must be a multiple car pile up as we have now counted around 12 ambulances. I decide to get some diesel, the queue in the service station shop is huge, people stocking up on sandwiches and drinks – I think, are we going to be here a long time? 
 
From my new viewpoint in the service station I can see lots of yellow lights flashing around the next bend, whatever has happened it is not too far away – I am wondering how long they will take to clear it up so we can move, I have phoned my dad and explained we are now stuck here and until we move there is nothing I can do. I phone my mother and my husband to see if they know what is going on - they don’t, so I phone my friend and ask her to put the Spanish news on, see if we can shed some light on it – she phones me back within minutes to say it is a bus crash – that explains the number of ambulances – at this point 7 people have died.
 
I now feel sick, I have goose bumps and with every wailing siren you wonder if the person inside will make it. People are out of their cars, no-one is going anywhere. Luckily the children dose off. Approx 1.5 hours later cars are turning around in the service station and heading back along the N340 the wrong way. The N340 has obviously been blocked at the junction before and now they are clearing the way between the last junction and the crash. I call my dad to say how bad the traffic is and he would be better off getting a taxi to Tivoli world where I can meet him as the flow of traffic should be better his way than mine. I put my phone down from this call in the centre holder between the two seats, I always put my phone here.  The children are awake now. I have to cross the main reservation between the East/West road and join the traffic heading West, I need to cross three lanes of traffic to get to the inside lane so I can come off at the next exit and head to Tivoli. It is dark and raining, the traffic is horrible, I scream at the children to be quiet, 7 people have died and I need to get into the right lane!! We are moving but just, cars are trying to get into the lane causing problems with build up behind them. Traffic stops, gridlock, I pick up my phone to call my dad to tell him to explain to the taxi driver not to come the toll road as the traffic is horrendous, my phone is wet. My son – in his 6 year old wisdom – though he would empty the bubbles he got from his party – into the holder where I always put my phone and didn’t mention it – I try using the phone – I can receive calls and make them, I can hear the other people but now no-one can here me  - the bubble mixture has gone into the microphone.
 
I can’t tell my father not to use the toll road, I can’t tell my husband or my mother that I am ok, I scream out that it was the most stupidest thing he has ever done – because I don’t know what else to do. I can only drive to Tivoli and wait. Luckily the text still works and once parked up I text everyone. The children are actually very good – they can sense the tension in the air and daren’t speak to me. A further 1.5 hours later my father and his wife pull up at Tivoli world. The taxi cost 60 euros! I am so tense/relieved by now I could cry. 
 
Back at home the accident is on the evening news. 9 Finnish passengers have died, reports indicate that a driver tried to overtake on the inside lane, hit the barrier and ricocheted into the side of the bus, the driver lost control and the bus flipped over into the central reservation barriers.
 
With all my stress and anxiety and my son ruining my phone I still managed to picked up my family and take them home, I can’t get out of my head that so many people last night did not, they probably waited at the airport for family who will now never be taken home. 
 
My thoughts today are not on my job they go out to the grieving families and those recovering in the hospitals. 


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1 Comments

Susan said:
20 April 2008 @ 21:47

How frightening to be so close to it all. You must have been exhausted by the end of it.

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