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On Sunday night I had drama practice in Seville, and I decided to bike there, despite the fact that was late and dark, and was one of those first really cold winter days. I stayed the entire day inside the house and needed fresh air and do some exercise. When I arrived at Dos Lunas, my drama group clapped in ovation when they saw me with my bike. I was a little bit surprised and modest since I didn´t find anything heroic about it. Maybe the fact I am 56 makes it more laudable.
Our practice finished around 10:30 pm and I needed to return home biking around 6 miles uphill. Winter days just started and when I step outside the drama studio, I knew I was going to freeze my booty off. When I was crossing la Cartuja runway, I covered my head, ears, and helmet with a scarf I was wearing around my neck. The cold of the night was entering in all the poures of my body. I took a selfie, and thought that I definitively looked like one of the futuristic characters at the end of a nuclear disaster that we wanted to portray in our interpretation of the drama play by Valle-Inclán, Divinas Palabras. To warm up, I started to pedal with all my heart.
To reach my town biking on a relatively safe way, one has to cross the Camas bridge, also known as puente de las Señoritas, a bridge that now is not in very good shape but has a biking path. It used to serve the train from Sevilla-Huelva, and today is well used by cyclers, walkers, motorbikers, and bus drivers from Valencina, Albaida and Camas when they want to pass by the highway during rush hours. The bridge makes the crossing of the Guadalquivir river relatively safe, at least for me, since it seems that have been a lot of complains about it´s dangers and lack of lights when is dark. On an average the bridge is used daily by around 800 bikers during week days and 900 over the weekends. Well, at 10:45 pm that Sunday it was not a soul, and I can attest that it was dark as a wolf´s mouth, so maybe the complains have good grounds. Nonetheless, I didn´t perceive these political issues, since I was accustomed to bike at night between Salteras and Valencina where there’re zero lights along the road. And just recently I have put two good lights in my bike. I felt I was the king of the hill and could just have a good ride.
I was going full blast, when all of the sudden I heard a ghostly sound in front of me. To my surprise, something similar to the phantom of the Opera in white crossed in front of me. It looked at me just like the way our dog JJ used to look at me. I brake fast and stopped to see this apparition. I couldn´t help myselft and took a photo of it. And a second one, and a third one.I put my bike light towards him, so I can take a clearer shot, afraid that the flash of my cell phone would ruin its ethereal image. He kept looking at me without moving.
Next day I posted a photo in Instagram and Facebook, writing a comment about the event. I wrote it in English. I think my spotty language, made people think that I had an accident or was in serious danger, especially being so late at night. To tell the truth, the least I felt was scared. On the contrary, I had a sensation of full gratefulness for being able to move around in such peaceful places, that the worst that could happen while biking close to midnight in the middle of nowhere is that a horse crosses the road, and having the same care as people in Montana have with deer while driving in a highway at night.
Yesterday, I went biking to Seville again. This time earlier, just to row for an hour. When I was returning, around 6 pm, I found the same horse that surprised me the night before, and I decided to stop and take a picture of him and upload it in Facebook, as a way of clarifying my previous accidental post. While taking the photo, a young woman in a hurry, approached me quiet upset. She had a slight foreign accent. She asked me why I was taking a photo of that horse. I looked at her ashamed and answered in a whisper, stuttering
—Because I like him.
—Ahh, ´cause you like him, mmm.
—Yes, because I like him…— ¿Is it your horse? — I asked condescendly
—No, from my uncle — she said pointing out the Southern part of the river.
And off she went her way suspiciously. And I continued mine, only two meters ahead where I saw another white horse eating weed, and he could have been also the ghost of the night before.
I was starting to get my phone out to take a picture of him, when a man who was pushing a cart approached me like if he was getting out of one of the pages of the drama play Divinas Palabras. I was just thinking, why all of the sudden everybody was overprotecting horses. I felt caught again. The toothless man who was wearing black coat, hat and gloves started to gesture gently with his hands pointing the horse. The last thing I needed was a mute man mad at me.
After many gesticulations, he asked me to take a picture of him with the horse. I obeyed. And he started to talk, yes, to talk, after playing the mute for 10 minutes! But he spoke choppy, almost unintelligibly for me, since he didn’t know too much Spanish, and I didn´t know any Romanian.
And this is how I learned or deduced that Alexandreau Dimiri, is a.k.a Sandokan, since this is the way he introduced himself taking one of his gloves off and giving me his five. He said something about his mother, so maybe his mom used to call him Sandokan or the name came from his mother side. I learned about his real name while he was telling me his troubles in Spain. He didn´t know why “5 millions Romanians emigrated to Spain if Ceaușescu was already dead”. And he insisted: ¿Why, why, why? I could tell he was missing is homeland, not knowing when he will go back again. Airplane tickets were too expensive, and by bus was three long days, that nobody can endure with an empty stomach. Besides, his passport had expired. He whisked from his old coat, a very deteriorated passport where it read, Alexandreau Dimiri born in Bucharest April 29th, 1957.
Now he was living alone next to the Guadalquivir river. He looked at me trying to find ways of touching or hugging me, giving me fives like three or four times and delicately taking away from my face the hair that the wind was bringing to against it. At the beginning I was a little bit uncomfortable, but at that time the daily average number of cyclist and walkers were passing by las Señoritas bridge.
At the end, all in all, even though the man was looking for a little bit of money and maybe something else, he only got out of me around 1,5 euros, a kiss in one of my cheeks, a hug, several high fives with my frozen hand, and some smiles and laughs. Mutually, we had made each other day. My appearance was not much more attractive than his. Maybe we were two souls in search of our identities.