Saturday, November 15, 2008


Cepsa, the Spanish petroleum multi-national, has launched a new website. The purpose is to show you the shortest and most rapid route to your destination. Drivers can also opt for the safest route that should get you there in one piece.

Wasn’t GPS meant to do that?

I have yet to find anybody using GPS who has arrived at their destination without frantic calls for help and resulting insanity.

A number of years ago an American came to stay having flown from New York to London then Málaga – without any problem.

Then came the journey to San Pablo de Buceite in the province of Cádiz.

He phoned to say he had arrived safely. Then a couple of hours later, when I was expecting him to arrive, a panic call – “I am at a service station and lost!”

“Where are you?”

“I’ve no idea – here talk to this man.”

This man happened to be the very bemused service station manager. He happily told me he was on the then N-340 – in Almeria! Right! I told my would-be guest to turn round and drive in the opposite direction – yes the direction he’d just come from, then on some and look for road sign posts just past San Roque for Ronda.

Another couple of hours passed. Another phone call – “I’m lost.”

“Where are you?”

“I think I’m near Tarifa – there’s a road sign says Ceuta – should I go there?”

I was very tempted to send him on to the Spanish enclave in North Africa but desisted. I remembered there was a McDonalds on the N-340 in Los Barrios and surely an American would spot that symbol of his nation’s culture.

Sure enough, an hour later, he crawled in to the McDonalds car park, keeping a steady eye on his GPS and from there he followed me home along a clearly sign posted road to where he should have arrived some five hours previous!

Let’s hope the Cepsa guide is more efficient. You’ll find it at:

1 comment:

Alberto Bullrich said...

Another GPS-ish story! At last weekend's motor home rally in Jimena, we heard several of them. Many if not most of the participants came from Seville, slavishly following their little box of tricks. The road they were led over was via Ubrique, over the mountains - a long and winding road for anyone and particularly dangerous for these often wide vehicles but apparently thought of as the way the crow flies by whoever makes up these gadgets. After various local consultations, they sensibly headed back home along the Los Barrios-Jerez road (A-381).
Whatever happened to maps? Or to the one reading them in the passenger seat - divorce?