Do You Know the Way to San Jose? Uh, No

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Entering Sevilla - Tuesday Nov. 28th

"I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 40." 20? Too low. 30? Too high. 25? Too low. 27? Too high. 26? That's it!"

If you've ever taken a course in computer programming, you may know this intuitive guess-my-number game by the term "binary guessing" where you guess an unknown number by dividing in half if your previous guess is too high or too low. Each guess brings you get closer to the target. It's a common computer programming assignment.

I thought of this as we played our usual game of "How many stops will it take before we find where we're going?" Here's how OUR version of this game usually went:

Completely lost, we pull over to the side of the road. I pull out the map, study it. Then we wait until a person came along who looks like (a) they know where THEY are (b) could maybe speak English and (c) could give us directions in sentences of two words without going off into an incomprehensible monologue. While attractive females often walk by, we know they never stop for us (much less hop on the back, a fantasy that somehow still persists in our adolescent minds), so we look usually for either a university-age person (who might speak some English) or somebody well dressed.

This process was put into good use on the way into Sevilla after a nice fast ride on the AutoVia from Cordoba. Just outside the turnoff to the city, we saw a gas station, and pulled in.

It was really hot for a change -- like 75 in the sun. We loved it! We took off extra layers of warmth -- head scarf, over-pants, lining of jacket -- and stowed them in the side bags and backpack. Then we exchanged heavy warm gloves for lightweight summer gloves which had been buried in the topbox for 8 weeks. Stripped down to regular California riding layers, we were ready to roll into town. Felt great!

Two motorcycle cops pulled into the gas station. Operating on the theory that it's always good to have motorcycle cops as your friends, we asked them the way to get to the tourist office. They pointed and showed us on the map. Fifteen minutes of riding time, they said, and we'd be there.

An hour and a half later, I walked into the tourist office.

Although we followed the cops' initial advice, it looked like we were heading the wrong way so we turned around. Big mistake. We ended up heading OUT of the city toward Malaga.

We quickly pulled off at the first exit and found ourselves in the east side of Sevilla. OK. This was a broad street that looked like it was heading back into the center of town. We followed it for several blocks, then turned into another gas station. It was very crowded. I looked pitiful enough and called for help to a man who has just finished paying for his fill-up. He had a big cigar and spoke no English, but studied the map for two minutes.

"Where are we right now?" I ask him. It turns out we're not on the map yet. Bad sign.

Then he did a very nice thing. "Follow me," he motioned. "I'll show you where the hotels are." Cool. What a nice man.

Eric said, "What if he takes us to some deserted warehouse and robs us?" He didn't look the type.

He waited until we were ready, then pulled out. Every so often we'd see a big puff of cigar smoke escaping from the driver's side window. I rode right through the cloud three seconds later, catching the smell. It was another way of following him, I thought, in case we get separated. Just follow the smell.

We expected somebody who would be considerate of two lost riders, driving cautiously to make sure we were following. Nope. The guy zoomed in and out of traffic like he was a frustrated Grand Prix driver. He must have figured that with two Ducati bikes following him, we'd have no trouble keeping up.

The first time he sped away from us, I looked over at Eric as if to say, "What the hell is this?" but then realized I had no choice but to keep up. So I gunned it. The guy switched lanes, signaling half a second in advance. I did the same, then checked my side mirror. Eric was there on my tail, as always. Don't worry about Eric, I thought, just follow this guy.

"Don't let anybody cut in front of you!" yelled Eric at a stoplight, "We don't want to lose him!" This meant I would ride this guy's bumper like he was carrying away the kidnapped daughter of the King of Spain and I was the last hope (been reading too many novels, forgive me). I accelerated to catch up with him as he pulled away from the light, then cut in front of a taxi after the guy switched lanes again. Eric told me later that he had to go ninety to catch up with me.

After about ten minutes of this, he pulled over. "There are the hotels," he said, pointing to the left. "Muchas gracias," we exclaimed over and over, although I think we were more thankful that we were still alive than we were to him at that point. He drove off in a cloud of cigar smoke.

We found the Tourist Office and called a hotel. That was enough excitement for one day.

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