Waaaay back in 1993 (I think), I flew on a plane for the first time. As I recall, we flew out of Stansted, to the sun-kissed shores of the Algarve, in southern Portugal. The experience was quite a novel one, and the holiday itself was a very enjoyable one. It took me a minute to overcome my initial hesitation of the larger waterslides, but once I did, I loved the water park experience. I also loved the food!
The resort (near Albufeira) was gorgeous. The town of Albufeira was equally beautiful. It bore all the hallmarks of a Mediterranean seaside town, with white stone buildings, ancient sea walls, and scores of little cafés and restaurants.
Albufeira was reachable by means of a shuttle bus from the resort. It was a journey we became quite familiar with. The waiting area was outdoors, near an indoor kiosk/ reception area. Our group (which included the family friends from the previous Prompt) was milling about, and I was looking at something in the kiosk. When I stepped outside, no one from the group remained. They had all gone. I was left behind.
To give myself some credit, my plan was to wait for the next bus. It would be along shortly, and had one destination, so I figured I’d hop in, and reunite with the others at the other end. Whilst waiting, I saw a familiar figure walking down the road towards me. That figure was my father, and I recall saying ‘I thought you’d left me behind’. ‘We had’, came his reply. It turned out the only person to realise I was missing was the youngest person on our holiday, my friend Nathan, who asked ‘where’s Ben?, in the midst of the bus’s voyage. Cue my dad getting out and heading back for me.
The situation never felt especially serious to me, even though looking back, a prepubescent kid alone, for any length of time in a foreign land, isn’t great. I couldn’t quite believe I had been forgotten, though in fairness, I had wandered off, which wasn’t smart on my part. I made a habit of going off on little adventures, and a ‘booze cruise’ to Calais, took myself off down the aisles of a large French hypermarket. It wasn’t until my name came over the tanoy (they called for Ben Bouwick, such was the accent) that I made my way to the front desk.
What can I say? Meerkats are curious. I wanted to explore!