Last night, arriving in Pamplona…
Turns out that Spanish is the language in which I flirt, in which I cut a little looser, play more openly with grown ups and laugh easy and abundantly at the humor that is all about–that is the happy warp to the pains and losses that are the woof of human life.
Perhaps it is that I lived in Spanish speaking countries from ages 15 to 30–the natural flirting time, when (in that way) we are at our most motivated and when we are at our best, perhaps. Since then, for me, those skills just atrophied. For after that I married (once again) and after that the waters that ran past my personal life’s historical bridge made that kind of playfulness quite dangerous and could likely get me killed. So it was fun to find it wake up once again. In Spanish.
At the end of a long and tiring day, walking slowly past cafes on the cobbled streets of old Pamplona, looking for a bite to eat–some fish and some tomatoes too–led quite naturally to spend quality time at a streetside table with a couple of Pamplonan “jovenes” (young men in their 60’s, like me too), one of which knew all 200,000 people who live in this town and the other who knew half of them. I learned some insides of this place. For example, these two guys have lived here all their lives and have never once run with the bulls. They said, “Solo los cobardes corren.” (Only cowards run.) That sounded wise to me! And I learned more about how Navarro really is quite wonderful and when I return (and I will) I’ll walk the Camino Norte next time–and we laughed from one thing to the next as wits and repartee got shaper, enlivened all the more by the minute, honed to great good fun.
All through the Camino I’ve seen beautiful organic tomatoes growing in the gardens that I passed. Well, with the healthy mountain soil in which they stood and the cooling rains they drank and the sweet sunshine they absorbed in their juicy red bodies, I really wanted to eat one! In doing so I would be eating Navarra, my walk fueled from the very place I’m walking through. But the people in the restaurant said that it was early and the chef wasn’t in yet and so there were no tomato dishes I could eat today.
Alas, my new work-averse, fun-loving friends to the rescue. The businessman–the one who makes his living talking on the phone buying this and selling that, friend of everyone (famous singer on the streets each night after an afternoon and evening of visiting his friends around the town with wine) got them to slice a fat fresh one up for me with salt and olive oil. A tomato I am sure I won’t forget. It took forever for it to come (who knows if this was not the instructions to the barkeep by the flirtatious one) and in the meantime we drank the delicious wine he sold to that very same establishment and that he bought for me… so we called the dish “tomate lento.” (The slow tomato). Well that was my evening of fast men and a slow tomato. Laugher, fun, and yummmm…
So for now, a bar of a song the three of us sang together, “Gracias a la vida… que me enchant tanto,” puts things perfectly.