It was on the first day at the park when we saw him playing the guitar, sitting between statues.
He had put his empty red canvas case on the ground — so as to collect euros. His voice was lovely and although we were walking, we stopped and sat.
When he sang – and when he sang – we were moved. Such a low and sweet and quiet tone. Dulce.
We listened to one song and then another…and another.
I sent her over with a coin and to ask him if it was his own music – her language was so much better – and he answered the name of another songwriter but alas, I have forgotten it.
All at once three policemen approached. They seemed to ask ‘do you have a permit?’ – he seemed to produce one. They said ‘you cannot perform here and now.’
They said ‘people are resting here in the park’.
‘It is, after all, time for siesta.’
It was 16.00.
It is time for siesta, they said.
People in the park are sleeping.
I looked around and saw children hiding in the hedge maze.
No one was sleeping.
The beautiful and low and pleasing which wakes us…is worth the disturbance. Totally worth it.
And now it is Sunday. Coming up from the metro, we see him on the landing, singing his sweet song. He nods at us, smiling, recognizing the strangers: Us.
We had walked all over the city. We had gone from Metro stop to stop…walking calles to avenidas and back again. Like a mad rush to see the city, to feel that city, we didn’t want to miss a thing.
It is one thing to hurry about and see everything and yet another to feel it all.
It is one thing to see a plaza full of tourists…quite another to sit and taste the olive oil, eyes closed to focus on the flavor, face turned towards the sun in a distant sky.
Let’s go to there again, she said to me. Let’s go and have a siesta.
It is that time of day.
And so we went — to Parque de Oriente.
We have returned!
We sat in a different place that time: between two statues.
This time I rested.
My eyes are closing.
She is reading to me from the bible – her homework.
There are families walking by us – returning from church. Many pregnant women, babies in strollers. Very young women, actually, wear flowers in their hair, as adornment. They actually wear church clothes and they actually cool themselves with hand fans.
Of course he was there…in the place where we saw him first.
But this time we could not hear his smooth song as clearly. His voice is trumped by the soprano on the other side of the maze, singing Mozart on a platform to a gathering…but with a microphone.
She sings Moon River – in Spanish.
two drifters, off to see the world, it’s such a lovely world…
My companion is now reciting the story of Noah…and I am listening. Between the guitarist and the soprano and the reading….I am strangely moved.
I am crying.
it is such a lovely world to see… es un mundo tan hermoso a la vista…
She rolls into Somewhere over the Rainbow. algún lugar sobre el arco iris…
Just then Noah sends out the dove. It returns. He sends out another, it returns. The third goes out and finds a branch upon which to rest.
When it does not return then Noah knows that it is time.
Time for them all to rest.
Time for siesta.
Time for the rainbow.
I am thinking of the arias across the park and the olive oil (I can’t seem to get enough!) and how I keep being scolded for saying grazie instead of gracias.
God tells him
look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them – so shall your offspring be.And now she begins Stranger in Paradise…
Take my hand,
I’m a stranger in Paradise
All lost in a wonderland
A stranger in paradise
If I stand starry eyed,
That’s a danger in Paradise
Mortals who stand beside
Angels like us.
Is it redundant to write a Parque as Paradise?
The soprano begins Love Story.
And indeed, I think, looking around me, it is.
It is such a lovely world to see…
We are about to stand up – she is reading that Sarah is laughing.
I am laughing as well. The songs seem to be narratives for our day, chosen just for us.
Waking us to the beauty all around – and inside.
And we are about to stand up, about to walk away.
I take out two euros to give to the young man, on our third occasion to see him.
…because people come back into our lives, again and again.
They just do.
And just, just as we are walking away…the soprano begins Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
We laugh and sing along.