|Subject: Re: Travel Serendipity|
Ah, travel serendipity - the best. In 1974, in Madrid we went to
the Prado every morning, taking the museum in bite sized bits - today
the Flemish, tomorrow the Spaniards, you get the idea. One morning,
we walked outside and stopped for a breather. We found a bench with
an older gentleman sitting smack in the middle, so we took each end.
He smiled and asked if we were having an argument. Why weren't we
sitting together? So we started a conversation. The gentleman in
question was Lindsay Daen, an American sculptor who lived six months
in Puerto Rico and six months in Spain. He was working on a
commission for the U.S. bicentennial to be placed in Philadelphia, as
I recall. After a lively conversation, he asked us about our travel
plans. As the day wore on, we walked and talked and arranged to meet
later that evening at a bar where Hemingway was known to locate in his
days in Spain.
Well it turned out that Lindsay had hung out with the Hemingway crowd which included James Michener. He entertained us with wild stories. Who knows how many of them were true? But they were wonderful for first time Europe trippers. He invited us to the bullfight and afterwards back to his apartment where he had bulls' ears and a tail on his wall - a significant honour in Spain - dedicated to him by matadors. We learned a lot from Lindsay including that we should go to Pamplona for the fiesta which, coincidentally, starts on my birthday. So I celebrated my birthday rising at dawn to watch the running of the bulls.
I have never forgotten meeting this man - who died only a few years ago - and his entertaining stories of the bullfight, his love of Spain and all things Spanish gave a special depth to our visit. Our original plan to spend a week or so in the country expanded to almost six weeks and it will forever stay in my memory. Hemingway's Spanish stories and James Michener's Iberia have a special place on our bookshelves because they were given meaning by this man.
One valuable lesson I learned from this - always strike up a conversation when travelling. You never know what adventure is in store. Lucy in Toronto (they ran the bulls today!)