The Goo-roo is one of the most generous and hospitable men I have ever met. A sweetheart, as She Who Must Not be Named would say. Peace be upon her flocks too, and blessings upon her store, for introducing me to the Goo-roo over the Net. My stolen weekend in
Not without hitches, though. As I checked in at
How does one while away 6 hours of a 9-hr. flight when Somnus goes AWOL? I marched up and down the aisle. I did surreptitious stretches in the space between the galley and the loo. Counted rows. A benediction upon Shahani, Queen of all her tribe, who took pity upon me and plied me with coffee and conversation, from the skies above Ashgabat till we began the long glide down into Frankfurt.
The plain in Spain as espied from the plane. Those stippled patches are olive plantations.
Disembarking at Barajas, I followed an endless succession of signs that pointed to “Salle des equipajes” (an approximation, Senors et Senoras, a mere approximation) only to find myself miles away, possibly near the French border. As unshaven bandidos snapped their bandanas at the Banderas (sorry, that just came), I was informed that I was in the SpanAir luggage hall. In a different terminal! The long trudge back had its compensations. First I found the Goo-roo lounging (in an attitude at once alert yet morose, quite a feat) outside the Arrivals gate, then I found myself beside my suitcase and outside the barrier. Without ever passing through immigration. Voila! I was free!
So it came about that at on a Saturday I found myself outside Café Patas and also outside a boatload of tapas, the latter conjured up by Gustavo who runs the “Juana la Loca”(1). Gustavo is Uruguayan. He wreaks his revenge upon the descendants of the colonists by alluring them with his viands and then pauperizing them with his demands. Myth has it that if he served meals instead of just tapas, two Michelin stars would be his for the asking.
The tapas bar was truly a revelation. (Vegetarians, please avert your eyes.) A 25-yr.-old white wine (good, but I’d reely druther hev a Pimms, thenk yew sow metch). Fish in a delicate butter sauce. Squid. Crusty bread with herb butter. Fried cod with a piquant dip. Oxtail that flaked apart when touched with a fork. Afterwards, an exquisite Tokaji – Tokay to you and me – that even a Philistine like me could appreciate, especially with a cigarillo that sneered at the Cuban genre. And just before we stepped out into the cold, a bill that would have housed and fed a family for a week. My insides curled into a ball and whimpered at the sight; the Goo-roo, cool investment banker that he is, took the tab and even left Gustavo a bribe for future delectation. (Such is wealth, but it does not always come with such spontaneous generosity.)
By this time I was light-headed from wine and fatigue, I had gone almost 48 hours with about 3 hours of sleep. There is, however, no performance at the Café Patas on Sunday evenings. Since I was to fly out on Monday, it was Saturday night or not at all if I wanted to catch some flamenco. So we walked a circuitous route through bright avenues – the Goo-roo is paranoid about getting mugged, also about expiry dates on food, but more of that later – until we reached the mouth of a little cobbled alley lined with brooding houses and curlicued balconies, like moustached Senoritas who suspected we wanted to ravish their infantas. Two doors from the mouth of the alley a small crowd smoked intently outside a brightly lit doorway. The Fundacion de Flamenco y Conservatorio de Café Patas.
More of which later, because I also need to work.