by Margo Fallis
Ian & Mac Travel Stories -
Where Are the Flamingos?
I like these train rides, Mac. It
gives me time to catch up on all the sleepless nights. Ian yawned and
stretched until his claws popped open on his paws. Thats better. Ive
got a pain in my neck though. He rubbed the muscle. I must have slept
Mac turned and looked back at the
train. These trains are different than the ones in Scotland. Look how
sleek the engines look. Our trains are a tad old fashioned, at least the
ones up in the Highlands. He glanced at Ian and saw him licking his
lips. Youre hungry, right? Ian nodded. Train station garbage cans
have a lot of half-eaten foods. People buy a sandwich and then notice
their train is about to leave and into the rubbish it goes. Its a total
waste of food. I say we start there.
They spent the next hour rifling for
something to nibble and they found quite a pile. Hiding behind a huge
stack of newspapers, the raccoons ate their fill unseen. The morning sun
filtered through the windows. With full bellies the two made their way
outside. People were just starting to drive into the city for work. Ian
and Mac were forced to hide in trees until the rush hour ended. Only
then could they climb down and start their adventure.
So, this is Barcelona. Its very
Mediterranean, isnt it? Ian took a deep breath. I smell the sea.
Duh, Ian. Its the Mediterranean Sea.
Use your head. Mac shook his back and forth in disgust. We should head
that direction. He pointed south. A lot of people sit by the sea and
eat. Even though were not hungry, it never hurts to have a stash. They
trotted down the street on all fours, avoiding people and speeding cars.
I remember my dad teaching me a song
about Barcelona. He said it was an old war song, or something like
that. Ian tried to remember the words and the tune.
Oh? I suppose you want to sing it to
me? Mac sighed. Come on then. Im listening.
Ian opened his mouth and the tune
flowed from it. Im one of the nuts from Barcelona.
Stop right there, Ian. Is this one of
those stupid songs? Nuts from Barcelona? Mac plopped himself on some
grass growing around an elm tree.
Its not a stupid song. My dad sang
it to me all the time when he was rocking me to sleep in the tree tops.
Do you want to hear it or not? Ian gazed at Mac.
All right. Sing.
Im one of the nuts from Barcelona, I
plink-a-dee-plonk, I casa bionk. I dance-de-dance with fine Polona, she
shake-a-de-hip, I get-a-de-pip.
Ian. Stop right there. Enough.
Enough. It doesnt even make sense. What sort of song is that? Lets
just get going. You can sing yourself to sleep tonight. Mac ran ahead,
not wanting to hear one more note. After half an hour of silence, Mac
stopped and looked up at the buildings. Look at those balconies, Ian.
Ive never seen anything like that before. Theyre decorated with colors
and stones and glass and mosaics. Arent they lovely? Ian was still
pouting and refused to answer, however, when Mac wasnt looking, he
snuck a glance upwards. They strolled past an unfinished cathedral with
tall spires and decorative design. Lets rest in here. Its quite hot.
My fur is beginning to wilt. Mac led the way through the fence into the
stone structure. This is quite unusual. I must say the people here
certainly know how to spice up their buildings. Look at the design of
this church. There are twists and spirals and squares and all sorts of
shapes and sizes. Ian ignored him and stubbornly refused to look. Mac
found a shady spot and lay down. Ah, this is the life, isnt it. He
rolled on his side and saw the frown on Ians face. Still angry about
what I said? Ian, Im sure the song brings back lots of fond memories of
your father, but I just thought the song was a bit odd. I didnt mean to
insult you or your father.
What is this place called? It was
the only thing Ian could think of to say.
Read that sign over there. Sagrada
Familia. Its in Spanish and I dont read Spanish. I wonder how our bull
friends are doing.
Ian lay on his back next to Mac, put
his arms under his head and looked up at the spires of the cathedral.
Im sure theyre fine. They are probably in a field of poppies, resting
and enjoying themselves with the local cows. This place is very tall.
Look how the steeples reach for the sky. Ian yawned and then curled up
in a ball. Lets take a nap. He fell asleep immediately. Mac joined
him and their soft snores echoed through the unfinished cathedral.
A few hours later, when the sun was
shining in an afternoon sky, Ian opened his eyes. Mac. He shook his
friend, who woke. We must have dozed off. I feel better, not so
dragging. What else is Barcelona famous for? Hmm. I remember now,
flamingo dancing. He scratched his arm. Flamingo dancing, how
interesting. They have flamingos here in Spain? Ive never seen a real
flamingo before and I had no idea they danced. Ian stood and leaned
against a stone pillar. Are you ready for another adventure?
Yep. Mac crawled out of the space
into the sun. There are a lot of people here, but there are a lot of
bushes, so were safe. They ran from bush to bush until they found a
deserted side street. Hunger rumbled through their bellies.
When are we going to eat? I am
craving some fish and chips. Ians tummy let out a loud squeak.
They dont have fish and chips here.
Its Spain, not Scotland, but that does sound good. Youre not getting
homesick already, are you, Ian? Weve only been gone a few days.
Me? No. I love this place. I cant
wait to see the flamingo dancers.
Flamenco, Ian, Flamenco!
Thats what I said, flamingo. Ian
shook his head back and forth. They wandered around for several hours,
their noses twitching in search of some food, any food. Their tails
dragged behind them; each step moved with less energy as the early
evening hours crept upon them. Suddenly Ians nose picked up the scent
of roasting chicken. Immediately his ears stood straight, his tail
pointed to the sky. Drool foamed from his mouth. Oh. Oh. Oh. I cant
believe it. Food, glorious food. Do you smell it, Mac?
Macs drowsy eyelids opened wide. I
do. It smells like, he sniffed the air, chicken and its coming from
that building. Its a restaurant, El Toro del Casa de Familia.
I dont care what its called. Were
going there and were going right now. Ian grabbed Mac by the paw and
pulled him across the street. They ran around to the back door and stood
behind a garbage can. You start here and Ill go over there. Ian jumped
on top of a pile of old food. Mac, theres roasted chicken skin thats
crispy and crunchy and cooked carrots and onions and oh, Im going to
die; my favorite thing, garlic. Ive never tasted anything so good. He
crammed his mouth with the food. Mac didnt say a word. He was too busy
eating tomato sauce covered sliced beef and beans. After filling
themselves, they collapsed on the ground near the rubbish. In about an
hour, Im going to want something sweet. How about you?
Sure, Ian. Mac let out a loud burp.
Whatever you say. The two napped for a while. Mac opened his eyes.
Whats that noise? It sounds like the ground is shaking.
Its coming from inside the
restaurant. I say we go in and find out. Ian didnt wait for his
friend. The raccoon ran to the door, pulled it open and darted inside.
Mac followed. They hid in the darkness. In a whispering voice, Ian said,
Im going to go and see what all that noise is. Do you want to come?
Yes. Im staying with you.
They tiptoed up a flight of steps and
onto a platform. All the lights went off, throwing them into total
darkness. Where are we? What happened? From the side of the stage a
guitar strummed. Whats going on? Ians gaze darted back and forth.
Whos playing the guitar?
Just then the lights went on and a
woman with flowing black hair and a bright orange and yellow dress with
a frill came dancing onto the stage, clapping her castanets. Ian and
Mac, half blinded by the bright lights, had no choice but to stand still
and let her dance around them. Both raccoons covered their heads and
hoped they wouldnt get stepped on. Around in circles she swayed to the
beat and music, tapping her feet on the ground. She seemed to be in some
sort of trance and didnt even notice Ian and Mac. A few minutes later a
man came out from the other side of the stage. He was dressed in a black
suit with a white shirt and his frills swayed back and forth as he moved
towards the woman. The two of them danced together, their feet moving so
fast that Ian and Mac couldnt keep track of where they were. They
didnt utter a word until the man stepped on Ians tail.
Ouuuuuuuccccccchhhhhhhh! He screamed so loud that the room suddenly
went silent. All eyes turned to Ian.
Mac grabbed hold of Ians paw and the
two ran down the steps and out of the restaurant. Ian, you clout. You
could have gotten us killed!
What do you mean by that? I could
have gotten us killed? Ian folded his arms across his chest.
Yes, you! Did you see the look on
that flamenco dancers face? She was horrified. Mac sighed.
She was horrified? She was? What
about me? It was my tail that got stepped on, not hers. Stupid flamingo
I dont think shes stupid; I dont
think shed ever seen a raccoon before. She probably thought we were
giant rats. Her feet sure moved quickly, didnt they? Ah well, were
safe now, though I am a bit disappointed we didnt get anything sweet.
Mac sat with his back against a rickety wooden fence behind the
Ian joined him. If we wait long
enough theyll bring some out. Theres nowhere else for us to go. Its
pitch black and I have no idea what sort of animals wander around the
streets of Barcelona at night. The two curled up under an old,
grease-stained cardboard box and fell asleep. When they woke up in the
wee hours, and just as Ian had said, the rubbish bins were full of
slices of rhubarb and peach pies, cream-covered chocolate cakes and
pieces of juicy melon. They ate until they could eat no more and then
headed down the street. Which way do you think it is to the sea?
Mac looked at the stars. That way.
Wait. If we were in Scotland, the sea would be to the west, but were in
Spain and Im not sure if these are the same stars or not.
Mac? Even I know they are. Duh! I
dont think youre quite awake yet. Youre not thinking straight. Now,
That way. Mac pointed to the top of
a hill. The two plodded onwards, keeping their eyes open for wild
animals. When they reached the sea, Mac was relieved. Hed only guessed
the direction. As much as I dont want to do this, Id say we should
get on one of these small boats and sail away. If we head east, well
come to France.
That sounds good. Ian noticed the
first signs of dawns approach. Seagulls squawked and cars began to move
down the quiet streets. Theres a boat and its a tour boat. Were in
luck. Im pretty sure itll go east and not west. They jumped on board
and collapsed from exhaustion down in the hold. Goodnight, Mac. The
gentle rocking lulled them into a peaceful sleep.
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