Chapter 10: Acquaintances

Huckleberry made a pre-siesta jaunt over to the supposedly Jesuit cistern in the old town of Cáceres. The discovery of the cistern was relatively recent, and it´s opening to the public is so new it´s still free until this April. Huckleberry had seen newpaper articles once in a while trying to establish more factual grounds on just what the history was of that cistern. One of the oldest clichés was certainly, “there´s nothing new under the sun.” But a cistern doesn´t exactly sit in the sun, someone had to come round and make it first.

The entrance to the cistern beneath the courtyard of the adjacent baroque structure, was preambled by a museum. The museum was a futurist´s wet dream; a multisensory documentation of the holy week in Cáceres. At the back of the room was a purple underlit glass deck where nearly 10 icons of catholic brotherhoods stood, hooded and garbed appropriately. The Nazareth brotherhood looked remarkably mystical while the Black Jesus brotherhood was more earthly and mundanely humble. At the flank of these imposing figures were little boxes where Huckleberry was invited to smell typical incense, rosemary herb from the hill, observe a candle, listen on headphones to Saetas and processional music from any one of the 10 plus processions of the Easter week. One could try out a mechanical device that would allow you to feel how heavy it is for each person helping to carry religious icon float (About 20 kg shouldered per person), one could try on a fancy brotherhood …hood (which Huck politely opted out of), one could observe a model of Plaza Mayor during an multi-icon procession (occurs once every 5 years, the next being 2015), one could read the history of each brotherhood and each icon (they are quite Reformatively beautiful), one could watch a video of various processions, and one could talk to Martha – one of Huckleberry´s students. Huckleberry had been running into his students all the time everywhere everyday in Caceres. Finding out that one of them worked at the local Aljibe museum was not surprising. Martha enthusiastically gave him the low down on all the things the multisensory museum had to offer. After making his way down through the museum Martha filled him in on the details of the cistern.

The cistern was a richly satisfying acoustic phenomenon. Multiple drain holes in the ceiling supplied the pool of water below with constant droplets to color the walls with infintessimal echoes. These nine meter high arch ceilings would make for a fantastic recording opportunity, Huckleberry noted. After filling his historical appetite to the brim, he thanked Martha for her thoroughly detailed tour and wished upon her a great deal of chocolates which Oscar, her boyfriend, owed her on this Feb. 14th´s Cousin Vinny´s Day.

Before he popped in for a peak at the Aljibe museum, Huckleberry had checked out the neighboring museum across the medieval street. There he had run into another acquaintance. She came from London, had a petite build and lovely shaped legs, and had a character a bit worn by the play of years. A grainy brunette color fell about her face. Stereotypically, her teeth were slightly unaligned but still quite clear like aged ivory. She came to the museum near St. George´s honorary statue and I met her there, just waiting to be touched. It had been a while since Huckleberry had been in the presence of such a formidable classical piano from the days when pianos were a necessary status symbols of the rising middle class and were the patient bearers of the stile galante being hammered out by newly priveleged families across the wealthier parts of Europe. This beautiful home piano was a charming reminder of a whole educational history that is now officially three years over. Still, all of the important relations between the evolution of society and economy hadn´t gone completely forgotten – the work of his exceptional teachers was not in vain. It might, in fact, “pay-off” in his teaching assistant gig, after all.

Trying to be useful in some regard, Huckleberry had tried advancing territory on “Commerce, Shopping, Goodies Et Cetera” in conversation classes. Among terms like “fair trade” and “E-Commerce” the word every student ended up trying to use at some point or other was, The Man. Huckleberry studied how The Man changed from era to era in the western music canon. It was required and informative paranoia for all music students hoping to, essentially, get on The Man´s good side so they could spitefully spit on his nice shoes for the rest of their lives. They´d continue shining his shoes, of course.

Back to the classroom..

After bucketing up opinions from the wells of their English vocab banks, the conversation game would get on and flow smoothly. At the end of class, a student asked Huckleberry what his opinion of commercialism was. He had been combing their minds for details, so it was only fair for him to share, right? Karma hadn´t lost its touch.

Outside the classroom, in the past two weeks there was one sunny day and one other day that the sun came out for a brief moment. Everyday it rained several times sporadically. Never a heavy rain, more like thick mists. Like the sky was casting a beady net you couldn´t avoid. The addition of huffing wind made everything cold, wet, and awkward for everyone.

The rain turned the once trickling stream that cuts between the main of the town and the mountain, into a flowing stream, at times overflowing onto the unsuspecting banks – one bank in particular a drinking water well, now with dirty water streaming almost to the tips of the faucets where Huckleberry sees locals grab water everyday. A messy diffusion running on without concentrated revision. It was definitely the first time Huckleberry could really hear the stream above the traffic of the nearby bending road. On that particular day, post rain, the near siesta meander would take Huck into the realm of a local Shaman. His name is Francisco Granados, he stands about 5 feet 5 inches, he wears an green Flat cap with eyes that looks grey at the outside and orangish brown near the pupil, and has been seen feeding the horses and cats on the hill ever since Huckleberry first started making trips up the hill for a quick bit of fresh air. Francisco picks up plants along the road and feeds them to the horses while throwing tasty bread bits to the kittens. He likes talking about how smart and resourceful wild cats are when it comes to catching birds, stealing eggs, embarking on herbalicious endeavours and not being too proud to accept the shaman hand that feeds them bread – said hand being Francisco. At one time, there was a wonderful coincidence between the 1. mountain being so full of kitties and 2. a protagonist making several important trips to a Pueblo de los Gatos in a book Huck had been reading. Every once in a while, Huckleberry found that some books were written right beneath his eyes.

This time, on the way down the hill, Huck encountered Paco who was carrying some leafy greens in his hands. Huckleberry began to wonder how Paco would explain himself.

“G´day! Long time no see!” Huck presented the floor of dialogue.

“Hey! It´s a bit sunny today, finally.” And then, without wasting any time, “Have you eaten yet?”

What a seemingly contextually absurd question that is otherwise always appropriate, and relevant. Sometimes talking with elders was like reading the mental math of child prodigies.

“Yeah, I had a bite to eat before coming up here.”

“I´m gonna eat at home, ´round 3:30. Listen, you want some of these? The doctors say they are good for your blood. It is acedera, pretty acidic.”

<You only live once,> Huckleberry humored to himself, <and that one time deal could be signed off by some senile man and dangerous plants! but, hey, what do I have to lose again?> “Sure I´ll take some,” Huckleberry reached out and grabbed half of Paco´s bounty. While Huckleberry chewed on some of the leaves they talked about being 80 and not having any serious body pains, about education and where kids are getting their heads into during this whole crisis ordeal, about the benefits of drinking no less than half a liter of wine everyday – or a least a little cañita, about home cookin´, about local edible plants like the externally spiny but internally delicious taganilla (Scolymus hispanicus), and about language.

Meanwhile, Huckleberry was reminded of some fruit from back home. He let it go so he could pay attention to Paco´s thick Badajó(z) country accent.

“But you see it´s hard for Spaniards to learn English. English and French aren´t like Spanish. In English, you write one way, but you don´t say what you write (referring here of course to pronounciation).” And then he walked write into hiz hone chrap. “For example, in Spanish we say your name – in this case – André, and we write it the same, “André”…(s)” While he could have chosen just about any spanish word, he chose my name which happens to end in an aspirated s, which is neither a rule nor an error. It´s regional. We both smiled and shrugged, acknowluhjing thuh hill airity uhv his mistayk, while also acknowledging the general truth of what he was trying to say. Huckleberry asked Paco where he should look for acedera, and having obtained this information parted ways with the talkative Flat capped gentleman.

“Granny smith apples” At precisely that moment, this rich in iron and vitamin C herb brought to him the taste and the memory of crispy-sour granny smith apples.

Another day, in a luminous opening between rains, another strong memory came to Huck – a two week chamber music ensemble workshop in New York with students from Butler University, where his brother attended college. The only year Huckleberry attended was precisely a time when he was trying to recover from tendonitis – therefore just about the worst condition to attempt keeping up with actual classical musicians. To be honest, recovering from tendonitis should never have anything to do with putting your healing pains through quickly learning difficult repertoire under pressure. Nonetheless, the memory of enjoying a sunny morning after a rain while a quartet group practiced Ravel´s believably famous String Quartet in F came to Huckleberry as he ran the hook of his umbrella along the wooden rail shooting through the vibrant moss of ancient rocks strewn about the hilltop. On his way down and to the “sunset park” the quartet played in his mind´s chamber, influencing his perception of the symphonic world about.

On his way to the park where one best watches a sunset, unhindered,  he ran into Rachel. Rachel is a thorough doppleganger that is the result of a mixture between two of Huck´s friends back home. Like most people he runs into, Rachel is a student of his as well. At the end of their run in, he asked where she was off to. “Genetics class”

<Joé> he thought. <Don´t I feel stupid> Hoping his face didn´t reflect how stupid he actually felt, he then thought about how wonderfully shallow his knowledge of the students´ lives was. He knew very little, and if he had to guess, he wouldn´t stand a chance against reality. Rachel was a laid back artsy girl by dress who´s hairstyle shows complete acceptance that her thick waves of dirty blonde hair are absolutely crazy. Light earth tone sweaters cover a shirt of that one punk band and the dissarray of mildly hippie necklaces definitely always gave Huck the assumption that, <Hey, she seems like fun to talk to.> During the conversation, finding out that she was adorably concerned about her grades in genetics played right into the return of the determined pizzicato theme in the second movement of Ravel´s String Quartet in F Major. Time to catch the sun at the park before the fourth movement began.

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