Tuesday, June 3, 2008

5 A.M. Escape From 44 Terraplen

44 Terraplen is the address of the house we rented. Like many houses of this style, once you get past the front door, there are many rooms, and patios with open air roofs. There are many doors with many locks separating different sections of the house. Many of the doors lock automatically behind you, so you don't want to ever not have your keys with you.

Monday morning we got up at 4:30 am and packed our last items. A driver was scheduled to pick us up at 5:15 and drive us to the airport in Leon, a one-and-a-half hour drive. Our instructions were to leave the keys in the apartment, so we put our bags by the front door and made sure absolutely nothing was left in any of the rooms. At 5:10 am we put the keys on the kitchen table, then reluctantly shut the automatically locking two doors between the kitchen and the front door.

When we tried to go outside to wait on the sidewalk for our driver, we realized you need a key to unlock the front door from the inside (we'd been instructed to be sure and use the key to lock the door from the inside when we came in for the night). So we're locked inside the entry, with no access to the rest of the house. The keys and a phone are in the rooms we just locked ourselves out of. We're locked in until the maid shows up at 10:30.

Just as Robin was suggesting we break the glass in the glass and iron doors to the other rooms, I decided to run up the stairs that lead to a roof patio and see if there's a way down to the ground-floor patio that's between the kitchen (where the keys are) and the bedrooms. If I can get down there, and if the kitchen patio door is unlocked, I can get the keys. I figure "I used to do some rock climbing in West Virginia when I first got out of college, and that was just 41 years ago. I can do this, no sweat."

I need to get down there. But there are no stairs from here.

From the roof patio, I see a slanted ledge just large enough to stand on that goes across the patio wall to another patio. If I can get to the other patio on the ledge, I can go down that patio's stairs, and hope the kitchen door is unlocked. So I climb over the concrete handrail and step out onto the ledge, grabbing mortar with fingernails, inching across, hoping the sloping ledge isn't rotten.

The brick strip is the ledge leading to the rooftop patio on the right.

OK, just hop from the patio hand rail to the ledge on the right, then sidestep to the next patio. I took these photos the first day in San Miguel, not realizing they showed an escape route.

The ledge. Not really too scary unless it's 5 am and dark outside.

I make it across, jump to the roof patio, run down the stairs, and the kitchen door is unlocked. I grab the keys and make my way through the locked doors to the front door where a very relieved Robin is waiting.

Every day of this trip has been extraordinary, from Granada, Nicaragua, to San Miguel de Allende. And I guess there couldn't have been a better ending. But don't try any of this at home. This blog features professional-grade travelers.