Chapter 12

Once everything had been returned, the officer motioned for all of us to follow him. We went out the door, across the road, up a flight of steps, and into a hotel-like building. A long room was already set up with a table and the number of settings to accommodate all of us. We had been expected! Quickly sitting down, we waited for some food. Before eating, they came, poured some clear liquid into a glass for each of us, and then filled the glass with water. The liquid turned cloudy and it tasted like licorice. We drank it but it really knocked us for a loop. We were in no shape for drinking. Finally we got some food, just what I can not recall, and when we finished we were shown to some rooms with nice clean bedclothes. That ended that day for the whole group. A real bed, clean sheets, a full stomach and, at least it seemed nothing more to worry about. We were on our way home.

The next morning we were able to clean up and it felt good to be washed even though there was nothing we could do about our clothes. They were dirty and had to stay that way. We were not about to ask for a washing machine or give anyone any trouble. We were fed and then taken down the road a mile or two. It seemed to me that we walked because I don’t recall riding in or on any type of conveyance.

I recently checked with my companion, John Katsaros, and he recalled that the town they took us to was Les. We had been apprehended down the road from this town, held in that immediate area, and transferred to Les. When we arrived there we were given a room in an inn. There were two of us to each room. We were then called together, and a man who spoke English advised us that we were free to move about the small town during the day. We were not to leave the town proper, and were to be in the inn at nightfall. At this point, an officer who was with us, requested permission to try and contact the American Embassy in Barcelona. The man was not very friendly, but he also was not cruel. He gave his permission, told us how we could contact him if we needed him, and left the inn. The officer set about trying to contact the Embassy and after some little while he succeeded in getting through. The Embassy told him they could not help us from Barcelona because the area was too mountainous and the way the mountains were situated it would take days for them to get to us. They told him that the main Embassy was in Madrid and that they would contact them for us and arrange to try and get us out of there. Now all we could do is wait. We all walked the town to take in the sights, such as they were. It consisted of one main road with most of the buildings along this on both sides of the road. I recall a bridge built of stone over a rather small run of water. We sat on the bridge and soaked up the sun, enjoying the first real relaxation for many a day. We returned to the inn for lunch and dinner and as I recall, the food was not too bad. But then, four days and four nights without food can make anything seem good. We had learned not to be too fussy. We never could figure who was paying for our keep. It is true that in our case perhaps the Spanish government had been assured by the United States that it would pay for our keep, but what about the civilians who were with us? We had no money to speak of and I am fairly certain the others also were in the same position.

That night we went to bed early because we were still exhausted as well as the fact that there was nothing to do to amuse ourselves. The next morning we awoke, John and I, in the same bed. I took one look at him and had a fit. He was a mass of red welts all over. I thought he had caught something so I told him about his condition. He just looked at me and said I didn't look any better than he did. It turned out that the place was alive with bed bugs, so from then on we slept with the lights on.

The second or third day we heard some shouting outside and we rushed out to find some of our people walking with the man we had left behind in the barn. Believe me, he was a mess. The poor fellow was tired beyond belief and looked like the devil. Unshaven, gaunt, wild-eyed and also very mad, he was a sight to behold. We really thought we would never see him again. He felt we had abandoned him and indeed he was right. We did not follow proper procedure prior to leaving the barn that morning, but then consider that we had never been through anything like this before, and we had never been briefed on how to handle the situation. We admitted we were wrong and that it was not intentional. He could see for himself the concern we had for his well being, so when he calmed down, he forgave us and said he now understood. I sometimes think he kept going because all he wanted to do was get to all of us and perhaps kill us. The amazing thing about his arrival was the fact that being alone and not knowing the area, he merely proceeded straight ahead uphill and down, trying to maintain a straight line to the south. Our guide knew the best way and I am sure saved us a lot of hard climbing. Our journey was not that easy, but we were appalled at what our comrade must have gone through. Another odd thing is that he would arrive so close to our final destination. It makes you think that perhaps someone was watching over him, at least I like to think that this was the case.

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