Day 26. Between the lines #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

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Today, March 26th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge. Today is also my daughter’s birthday. I remember with so much longing last year when I was with her, on her 23rd birthday. Love you so much hija!!!

 

Today I participated as a surprise guest in the 2nd Online Thursday of my Spanish friends’ Thursday’s Foam writing workshop meeting (via Whatsapp). Maria, the fantastic person who runs the workshops, receives all the stories ahead of time, and also an audio of each participants reading their story. By 6:30 pm Spanish time, the workshop starts via Whatsapp. Maria sends all the stories in an email and in alphabetical order we read and hear every story. At every time, we comment and Maria makes the most important points and analyses of the story just read/heard through an audio recorded in real time. I am so impressed of her quick grasps of each story, and how she can see (or not) immediately the elements of the homework she had given the group the last week. This time they needed to include 4 elements that drove the actions of the character: Lies-Motivation – Needs – Ghosts.

I spent almost 4 hours listening and reading ten amazing stories, and reading to witty and funny comments that were scrolling fast on my feed.

This morning, at 9 am, I was in the chopping block since I haven’t written in so long in Spanish. The workshop was about to start and my screen page was in blank.  Since my brain can’t write two pieces in one day, let along in different languages, I am going to put here what I wrote in Spanish, and give my best in translating it into English.

Entre líneas

9 am. ¡Mierda! ¡Solo tengo media hora para sacar algo de mi cabeza, escribirlo, grabarlo con mi sexi voz y enviársela a María por whatsapp! Ayer abrí los 1818 mensajes que tenía guardados del chat de la Espuma de los Jueves. Me he pasado siete meses buscando palabras en español. Mentiría si dijera que lo he intentado. La única vez que lo hice fue el  sábado 11 de enero cuando organicé el drive de los jueves. Mientras creaba la carpeta de cada uno de los participantes, y en ella sus relatos, me los fui imaginando en cuerpo presente, cada una de las voces que conocía y la de los nuevos, inventándomelas como si ya las conociera. Me daba tanta envidia que los jueves tuvieran nuevos amores. Ceci, Carmen, Pedro, Maite y que mi propia espuma ya no desbordara del tazón.  No ser parte de esas risas, y esos juegos. Que mi piel no sintiera el sol sevillano, ni que pudiera subir la cuesta de Guzmán con 40 grados de calor, o llegar a saludar a Chema y entrar a un aula blanca, austera, fría que solo los días jueves a las seis y media de la tarde se llenaba de ilusiones, donde éramos capaces de matar la soledad y enfrentar a nuestros propios fantasmas. Esa sola vez, miré con envidia los relatos que iba insertando en cada carpeta. Tan buenos, tan prolíficos, tan agobiantes. Cuando creé mi carpeta, me armé de valor y abrí un nuevo documento. Lo titulé Retomando la pluma. Permanecí diez minutos mirando la blancura de la pantalla. No tenía nada que transmitir. Me había convertido en un café expreso amargo.

Al mes siguiente, lo volví a abrir. Esta vez lo titulé Tinta invisible, y de mi teclado solo salió una frase. Si no vez nada, es porque se te han acabado los poderes de leerme entrelíneas.

9:24 am hora de Oregon del jueves 26 de marzo 2020. Cumpleaños de mi hija Matilde. 18:24 en la provincia de Sevilla.

Fe de erratas: Calculé mal la diferencia horaria entre España y Oregon. Me había adelantado una hora. Sin embargo, la presión me ha hecho romper el hielo y escribir. La espuma de los jueves es mi motivación y necesidad.


Between the lines

9 am. Shit! I only have half an hour to get something out of my head, write it down, record it with my sexy voice and send it to Maria via WhatsApp! Yesterday, I opened the 1818 messages I had saved from the Thursday’s Foam chat. I have spent seven months looking for words in Spanish. I would be lying if I said I tried. The only time I did it was on Saturday, January 11, when I organized the drive of the Thursdays’ Writing Workshop. While creating the folder of each of the participants, and placing in it their stories, I imagined them face to face, listening to each one of the voices I knew, and creating the one of the new participants as if I already knew them. I was so envious that on Thursdays they had new lovers. Ceci, Carmen, Pedro, Maite and that my own foam no longer overflowed from the bowl. Not being part of those laughs, and those playful days. That my skin did not feel the Sevillian sun, or that I could bike up the Guzmán slope with 40 degrees C of heat, or get to greet Chema and enter to the white, austere, cold classroom that only on Thursdays at six-thirty pm was filled with illusions, where we were able to kill loneliness and face our own ghosts.

That one time, I looked enviously at the stories I was inserting into each folder. So good, so prolific, so overwhelming. When I created my folder, I plucked up my courage and opened a new document. I titled it Taking Up the Pen again. I spent ten minutes looking at the whiteness of the screen. I had nothing to convey. It had turned me into a bitter espresso.

The following month, I reopened it. This time I titled it Invisible Ink, and only one sentence came out of my keyboard. If you don’t see anything, it’s because you have run out of powers to read me between the lines.

9:24 am Oregon time, on Thursday, March 26, 2020. My daughter Matilde’s birthday. 18:24 in the province of Seville.

Errata: I miscalculated the time difference between Spain and Oregon. I was an hour ahead of time. However, the pressure made me break the ice and write. The Foam on Thursdays is my motivation and need.

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Thursday’s Foam – My Spanish Writing Workshop Chat

 

Day 16. Dead but with my hair done #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

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Today, March 16th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

Today, I talked in the morning with two of my friends in Spain via video Whatsapp. Maria, my former writing workshop leader was confined in her house with her children 14 and 18. She lives in a town of 7,500 inhabitants located 15 miles northwest of Sevilla. We brainstormed of having one of her Thursday writing workshops via Zoom or Google Hangout. We tried both, but we were worried that some members were not going to be able to quickly figure out how to connect with these tools. Whatsapp is one app that everybody masters in Spain. Probably, we will be end up sending audios with our stories read by ourselves in our group chat. People will listen to them at their leisure. They also have a drive folder where we can upload the stories.

We talked about the situation of the covid19 here and Spain and what we were up to. We even gave each other a tour of our houses. We laughed since we sounded like real estate agents trying to convince the other to buy their home. We even showed each other our bathrooms! That was the maximum expression of confinement boredom. On the other hand it was so nice to be have the time to do that. No rush, no sorry I can´t answer, I have to go, I have to work.   

I was impressed about how strict was the confinement in Spain. Police could fine people if they didn´t have a real excuse to be on the street. Andaluces are gregarious people. I can imagine that´s very difficult for them to be isolated, and unable to go to their favorite family restaurant for breakfast.

She told me that to go outside they have to do it alone. Forget the buddy system. The only exception is if they were helping a disable person. They can only go outside if they need to go to the supermarket, the tobacco store (Spaniards are heavy smokers, and not having cigarettes might be very unnerving during confinement), the pharmacy, taking somebody to the health center or going to the hairdresser. Yes, you read correctly, the hairdresser!

After María, I talked for two hours to my  Chilean friend, José. We videochat via Whatsapp also. I caught him at my noon, his 9 pm. He was having supper all alone in a house with ten rooms and six bathrooms in the middle of downtown Sevilla. It´s an old house whose owners rent to scholars and college students. Since all the other tenants were Americans who flee home, the house was empty. José is a PhD student at the Scuola Normale Superiore, one of the most prestigious universities in Pisa, Italy. He is in Sevilla doing some research at the General Archives of the Indies. His chances of going home are very slim, so he is hanging there tight. We talked for 2.5 hours! Both were very surprised of how time flew. When I asked him what´s up with the Spaniards that can´t go to walk to a park but go to the hair dresser, he laugh and told me: it`s very Spanish: Dead but with my hair done. 

Later, I read Spaniards themselves laughed about this exemption profusely. Social media was inundated with memes and jokes about it. Today the government decided that probably hair salons and barbershops needed to close also.

Spain confinement

Semana Santa in Sevilla was cancelled. Processions are VERY important for sevillanos. This is a cartoon joking about that.

Police 1: Could you all explain me where are you going?
Nazareno 1: I am going to the supermarket
Nazareno 2: I am going to the pharmacy
Nazareno 3: I am going to the tobacco store
Police 2: And the Virgin Mary?
Nazareno 4: It´s not the Virgin Mary, it´s my mother. I am taking her to the Health Center.

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Here are a couple of memes that shows signs of barbershops and hair dressers with a menu of sandwiches and beer, a man holding a sign saying he has a hairdresser appointment and another with a complain that the government is closing every store but not hairdressers.

Feria meme

This is a tweet saying that they found a way of not cancelling April´s Fair in Seville, by putting signs of Tobacco Store, Hairdresser and Dry Cleaner on the “casetas” where people gathered tight during this Fair.

Day 19. In between jails : a free association of words #sol19 #solsc

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March 19th

Yesterday, I went to a meeting in Sevilla. On my way back I decided to check a spot I read it used to be a jail until the XIX century. Miguel de Cervantes was in prison there between September and December of 1597. And of course, Sevilla claims that his stay in there was the beginning of “El Quijote“. The jail was in the intersection of Sierpes (main pedestrian street downtown Sevilla) and a small street called Entre cárceles [In between jails]. I don’t know why that name struck me. I imagined myself walking along the busy street of XVI century Sevilla, and telling people I live between two jails: La Cárcel Real de Sevilla and La Real Audiencia. It was 7:30 pm when I was imagining this. The hustling and bustling of the city helped my day dreaming. Buildings are now just tourist shops selling us the past . There’s even a little monument that commemorate Cervantes’ stay at the Cárcel Real de Sevilla. Like he went to an Airbnb for a couple of nights. Ironically, now the building is a bank, the 21st century people’s jail.

By 1597, Cervantes was a tax collector and he gave us the honor of staying at this prison since one of his helpers committed a mistake, and appeared like Cervantes was keeping some of the money for himself. A little vendetta, perhaps?

Today I went biking to my chiropractor and on the way back I found a graffiti with the word “word“. It made me think of Cervantes again, and writers. It seems that in idle times is when you’re more productive. Or maybe when you’re in between jails?

On that same ride I listened to the short YA novel “Long way down” by Jason Reynolds. It was read by the author which made it more powerful. Listening to his comments at the end of the book made me think about injustice, and how many times the wrong people are in detention centers.

Our son started sending us messages complaining that he needed to pay 1,000 dollars in taxes on 237 dollars of taxable income. Something doesn’t square up. He worked the summer to pay for college. Maybe like Cervantes, his assistant, the who knows what software, is committing a mistake, we hope.

Finally, I was trapped in the car for 5 hours since we went to pick up our niece from Montana who is visiting for Spring break. Just like Jason Reynold’s story, —much more superficial though—, it was a long way down to go to Málaga and back to Sevilla.

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Entre Carceles and Sierpes Streets
Cervantes’ monument on Entrecárceles street in front of the jail
Graffiti next to the Guadalquivir river
Now there’s a bar where the police guards stayed at the prison
The former Real Cárcel de Sevilla

Sandokán, the tiger of las Señoritas bridge

Si quiere leer esta entrada en español, haga click aquí banderas español

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During our drama practice

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.

 

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A character from Divinas Palabras

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.

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The ghostly apparition

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.

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He looked at me like J.J.

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.

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The Guadalquivir river after rowing from la Cartuja Runway

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

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The first white horse

—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.

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Sandokán

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.

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Arriving to my destination in my bike

Sandokán, el rumano del puente de las Señoritas

If you want to read this post in English, press here USA-United-Kingdom

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Durante nuestro ensayo de teatro

El domingo por la noche tenía práctica de teatro en Sevilla y decidí irme en bicicleta, a pesar que el ensayo era tarde, estaba oscuro y hacía frío, pero me había pasado todo el día dentro de la casa, y necesitaba respirar y hacer ejercicio. En el hecho, cuando llegué a Dos Lunas, mi grupo de teatro me aplaudió cuando me vieron llegar en bici, ante mi sorpresa y un poco de pudor, pues yo no lo encontraba nada heroico. Quizás el hecho que lo haga a los 56 años de edad lo hace más loable.

 

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Personaje de Divinas Palabras

El ensayo terminó a las 10:30 pm más o menos y tenía que enfilar 9 kms. cuesta arriba para Valencina. Recién se habían iniciado los días más fríos de la temporada, y al salir del estudio supe que iba a congelar el culete. Al cruzar la pasarela de la Cartuja, me cubrí la cara y las orejas con un pañuelo que llevaba alrededor del cuello, pues el frío se me colaba por todos los poros. Me saqué un selfie y pensé que definitivamente parecía uno de los personajes futuristas, después de una hecatomber nuclear, y la vuelta de tuerca que le queríamos dar a la obra de Valle-Inclán, Divinas Palabras. Y me puse a pedalear con todas mis fuerzas, para poder entrar en calor.

Para ir a mi pueblo de manera relativamente segura, hay que cruzar el puente de Camas conocido también como puente de la Señorita, un puente hoy en bastante mal estado pero que tiene un carril-bici. Antiguamente servía la ruta ferroviaria Sevilla-Huelva, y hoy es muy utilizado por peatones, ciclistas y motos, además de los autobuses interurbanos de Camas, Valencina y Albaida, durante la hora punta, ya que hace que el cruce del verdadero río Guadalquivir sea relativamente tranquilo y seguro (al menos para mi, pues me he enterado que hay muchos reclamos sobre su estado calamitoso y por no tener iluminación durante la noche). Por este puente cruzan una media de 800 ciclistas al día en días laborales  y 900 los fines de semana. Pues bien, a las 10:45 pm no había un alma y doy fe que estaba oscuro como boca de lobo, por lo que lo de los reclamos de la iluminación, tienen su causa justa. Yo, sin embargo, no percibía nada de estas cosas pedestres, pues, acostumbrada a recorrer de noche el carril-bici de Salteras a Valencina, no me extrañaba su falta de luz. Y hacía poco, le había instalado dos focos a mi bici, que me hacían sentir la reina del mambo y reirme de los peces de colores.

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La aparición espectral

En eso iba, a todo cañón, cuando siento un ruido espectral y cuál no es mi asombro que se me cruza por delante una especie de fantasma, que me mira con la misma mirada que tenía mi perro J.J. No tuve más que frenar a toda prisa, y mirar asombrada esta aparición. No pude contenerme, y le saqué una foto. Y dos, y tres. Lo comencé a iluminar con el foco de mi bici, para que se viera más claro, por temor a que el flash de mi móvil arruinara su imagen etérea. Y me siguió mirando impertérrito.

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Me miraba igual que el J.J.

Al día siguiente, subí una foto en Instagram y Facebook, comentando el suceso. Lo puse en inglés, y no sé si eso, debido a mi lenguaje equívoco, dio lugar a que mucha gente creyera que había tenido un accidente o corrido peligro, especialmente a esas horas de la noche. La verdad es que lo menos que tuve fue miedo, más bien, una sensación de gratitud de saber que me muevo por lugares tan tranquilos, que lo más terrible que me puede pasar, es cruzarme con un caballo mientras ando en bici casi cercana la medianoche, teniendo que tener el mismo cuidado que se tiene que tener en Montana de noche cuando se cruzan los ciervos por la carretera.

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El río después de remar desde la pasarela de la Cartuja

Pues bien, ayer fui nuevamente a Sevilla en bici. Esta vez a remar, más temprano. A la vuelta, cerca de las 6 de la tarde, me encontré con el mismo caballo que me había sorprendido la noche anterior y decidí detenerme para sacarle una foto, para posteriormente colgar en Facebook, a modo de aclaración de mi publicación anterior. Cuando estaba en ello, se me aproxima presurosa, una joven bien arreglada que con cierto acento extranjero me pregunta por qué le estaba sacando fotos al caballo. Yo, la miré avergonzada y musité titubeando

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El primer caballo blanco

—Porque me gusta.

—Ah, porque te gusta, mmm.

—Si, porque me gusta…— ¿Es tu caballo? — le pregunté algo condescendiente

—No, de mi tío — me dijo, señalándome la ribera sur del río.

 

Y siguió su camino desconfiado. Y yo el mío, solo dos metros más allá, en la que estaba comiendo maleza, otro caballo blanco, que podría también haber sido mi fantasma de la noche anterior.

Me aprestaba a sacarle una foto, cuando un señor que tiraba de un carrito, como si hubiera salido nada menos que de las páginas de Divinas Palabras, se me aproxima. Y yo que pienso que por qué les ha dado a todos ahora con sobreproteger a estos caballos. Y me sentí de nuevo pillada en falta. El hombre desdentado, de abrigo, boina y guantes negros, comienza a hacerme gestos con las manos, señalándome el caballo. Lo que me faltaba ahora, un mudo enfadado conmigo.

Después de varias gesticulaciones, me indica que le saque una foto con el caballo, lo que yo hago obediente. Y comienza a hablar, sí, a hablar, después de haberse hecho el mudo por 10 minutos! Pero su hablar es cortado, casi ininteligible para mi, pues él sabía poco español y yo nada de rumano.

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Sandokán

Pues fue así como me enteré o más bien deduje, que a Alexandreau Dimiri, se le conoce por Sandokan, pues se presentó mientras se desenguantaba una mano y me daba sus cinco. Me repitió algo de su madre, por lo que no sé si es que su madre le dio ese apodo, o deriva ese nombre por parte de madre. De su verdadero nombre me supe cuando me contaba de sus penurias en España y que no sabía por qué “5 millones de rumanos habían emigrado a España si ya Ceaușescu había caído y estaba muerto”. Y me insistía: ¿Por qué, por qué? En su mirada añoraba su tierra, a la cual no sabía cuándo iba a regresar ya que el billete de avión costaba mucho dinero y en bus eran tres días y sin dinero para comer, era muy duro. Además se le había vencido el pasaporte, y sacaba del bolsillo de su abrigo raído, un pasaporte hecho pedazos donde se leía, Alexandreau Dimiri nacido en Bucarest el 29 de abril de 1957.

Y ahora vivía solo, en las riberas del río Guadalquivir. Me miraba cariñoso, tratando de encontrar maneras de tocarme y abrazarme, chocando los cinco como tres o cuatro veces, y retirando, delicadamente con sus dedos, los pelos que se me venían a la cara con el viento. Al principio me había inquietado, pero a esa hora transitaba la media diaria de ciclistas y peatones que cruzan el puente de las Señoritas. Y al final, si bien, el hombre buscaba un poco de dinero y quizás algo más, logró solo sacarme un euro y medio, un beso en la mejilla, un abrazo, unos cuántos choques con mi mano congelada, y varias sonrisas y carcajadas. Mutuamente, nos habíamos alegrado la tarde. Mi aspecto no era mucho más atrayente que el suyo. Quizás éramos dos almas en busca de una identidad.

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Llegando en bici a mi destino