Ringo’s Big Adventure
Chapter (don’t know yet)
What To Do
When You Don’t Know
What To Do
by Dallas Doctor
Oh, it was a rookie mistake, to be sure, but I had an excuse: Ringo’s far too sensitive to be crammed into a crate in the loud, scary belly of an airplane, and he’s too big to hide in a carry-on, so I hired a Croatian driver to come get us and take us from Paris to Split. Ringo’s EU passport and all his paperwork were in order. I’d rented a house on a cliff overlooking Split for the next three months. We were packed and ready to go.
But the evening before our scheduled departure, our driver texted to say she was NOT on her way and wasn’t going show up. I should’ve had a backup plan, but I didn’t. And we had to be out of our Parisian flat by 10 am the next morning. I had no choice, but to spring into action.
I jumped on the Internet, paid way too much for a one-way rental car, told Ringo I’d be right back, took the Metro to Gare du Nord, picked up the rental, drove back and parked in the shadow of Pantheon. Ringo and I were going to have to navigate this leg of our adventure all by ourselves.
The next morning, luckily the car was right where I left it, so Ringo and I threw all our worldly possessions (one suitcase, two dog bowls, and two guitars) into the trunk of the rental car and headed out. We had GoogleMaps on my iPhone, so we figured we could go anywhere in the world and be fine.
We traveled through the picturesque farmlands and countrysides of southern France and northern Italy for three memorable days. We stopped around 5 pm each day to grab an evening meal and a hotel room. On the third day, we reached Ancona on Italy’s east coast and prepared to board the ferry to Croatia the following morning.
Everywhere we go, people love Ringo, but in Ancona, for some reason, the nice people there must’ve thought we were rock stars. They insisted we take the penthouse and only charged us the regular rate. They even sent up a special meal for Ringo (which I didn’t let him eat, because I never give him people-food). We spent the evening exploring the streets of Ancona, returned to our penthouse for a good night’s sleep, enjoyed the most luxurious room-service breakfast in memory the next morning, drove the rental car into the belly of a boat, checked into our cabin, and waved good-bye to Italy as we headed out across the Adriatic. Everything was going great!
And Ringo took it all in stride like he was born to it. I wondered if he’d have anxiety about being on the boat, but he settled right in. (As long as we’re together, that’s all he cares about.) We spent a relaxing day on the ferry and weren’t the least bit shocked or surprised when we realized there was no cell service in the middle of the Adriatic Sea and no WiFi or Internet of any kind on the ferry. I wanted to contact our host in Croatia to let him know we were on our way and on schedule, but there was no possible way to communicate with him. I resolved I’d just have to wait until we arrived in Split.
A few minutes after 11 pm, the ferry pulled into port and that’s when I realized we had a problem. I still couldn’t contact or communicate with our host, because the French SIM card in my iPhone didn’t work in Croatia and was never going to. Oops! I hadn’t thought of that. And that’s not all. No cell service meant no GPS. I had a strange Croatian address, but absolutely no context, no bearings, and no idea what possible relationship might exist between where we were and where we needed to be. So after basically being waved through customs at approximately 11:30 pm, Ringo and I found ourselves totally lost in Croatia, driving dark, unfamiliar streets with absolutely no idea where we were and no clue where to go.
It was the strangest, most unfamiliar feeling. I needed to readjust my worldview. And fast. Because my present understanding of the world wasn’t gonna work in this situation. I hadn’t expected that. I’d always prided myself on being able to get around in any city anywhere in the world. All it takes is a cell phone. There’s nothing to it. But now what? Our new landlord was waiting for us, expecting us to show up someplace I didn’t know how to find; and I had no way to contact him to tell him why we weren’t there.
I needed to formulate some kind of plan. I found a spot to pull over so I could think. As soon as I did, another car pulled up alongside us and a woman rolled down her window and asked me (in Croatian) for directions. I could only laugh and shrug. But as that wonderful woman drove away, I realized she’d given me the solution to our quandary: “So that’s what they did before cell phones? They relied on each other!”
I needed to find some people. The street we happened to be on was dark and deserted, so I surveyed the surroundings and took a guess as to the likely direction of the city center. Ringo and I blindly explored the empty streets of Split as midnight approached. At each intersection, we tried to turn whichever direction we thought might take us to a busier part of town.
And it worked. Soon enough we saw pedestrians, mostly young people out on the town. With only a little difficulty, I located a parking space, rolled up the windows, locked the doors, made a mental note of the surrounding geography (hoping I’d be able to find the car again), and set out on a mission with Ringo to find us a friend.
The first person we approached (a young man in his early 20s), not only spoke English but seemed genuinely delighted to help us. He volunteered to call our host. He got directions in Croatian, translated them into English, explained exactly where we needed to go and how to get there.
On the way back to the rental car, I wanted to make sure Ringo’d learned his lesson; I told him, “… next time you don’t know where you are, or what to do, just remember: sometimes, it’s OK to ask for help.”
(Scroll down for a darling movie (18-seconds) of Ringo saying goodbye to Italy.)
Please share this story in any way you consider appropriate. This is part of a collection of very simple short stories called: “Ringo’s Big Adventure” which is NOT to be confused with a similarly titled, but entirely different set of more complex stories with the working title “Conversations Overheard While Traveling with Ringo” which are ONLY available to my awesome supporters who are making these adventures possible over at patreon.com/dockity … If you’d like to become part of the team and receive cool rewards in return, please visit patreon.com/dockity … Thank You! Sincerely, dockity.