The conductor checks our tickets again halfway through the ride and tells us the last cars are headed for Santiago. He, like most on this part of our journey, only speaks Spanish. Luckily, Billy's been hiding his language skills and is getting us by.
We check our tickets and we keep these assigned seats until Ourense, where it looks like we change cars or trains and make the rest of our journey. According to the print, that shouldn't happen till about 6p - four hours from now.
He says we can change now or later, so we sit, eating pre-packed croissants and listening to what sounds like the cars being separated. We nervously start to pack our stuff and head in the direction he pointed earlier, and he comes back our way. Follow me, he says, beckoning for us to come with him.
He leads us through one car, two cars, a bar car, a car that smells strongly of cigarette smoke where our printed tickets say we should sit when the cars separate, and he leads us into the next car, the first class cabin, an empty coach except a single guy about our age, and he gestures to one of the large quad-sections with a table in the middle.
We thank him profusely, and throw our bags overhead. The heat had been on in the last car and a couple across from us spent the first five hours of the ride coughing and sneezing. An older woman was playing Candy Crush at full volume, and another was talking so loudly we could hear her clearly from the full length of the car. Turns out they changed the train routing en journey and the car we were slated to stay in had a new destination and timetable.
We settle into our seats grateful, Billy starts to write and I'm playing the free version of Lumosity on repeat when something a friend said just yesterday pops into my head:
"I hope you meet many a kind Shepard along the way," and I realize we have.