I sensed that some people had joined me, one on the seat opposite me, the other next to me. I was too tired to pay much attention, except to wonder why they didn't sit together. Then I was back to zzzzzz's.
At some point, I heard one ask the other, "When do you use 'maybe' and when do you use 'perhaps?' " It was a question by Spanish speakers trying to figure out English.
That's how Mauricio, Paola and I struck up a friendship. They were embarking on a grand tour of Europe. His English was pretty good because he had spent time working at a ski resort in Colorado. Hers was more elementary.
That was fun for me because it gave me an excuse to use my Spanish. But if I got stuck on a word or phrase, Mauricio could translate in both directions, depending whether he needed to help me or his sister understand each other.
We altered plans upon leaving the bus. We agreed to explore on our own for the morning and meet up for a suckling pig lunch. It's the specialty of Segovia. I felt I had to try it.
When we met at the appointed time, we decided against pig. Too expensive. (And a little too gruesome.) I have to say, I was relieved. We ended up at a pub-like place where a group of guitarists had come to play. They weren't performing. Just playing together at their table. About eight of them.
We ordered. Paola and I both ordered the fish special but there was only one left. She insisted I have it. We drank wine, as seems to be customary in Spain at lunch and dinner. Afterwards we explored more of the streets and sites of Segovia.
At the Alcazar castle, a building that inspired Walt Disney's castle, and where Queen Isabel promised Christopher Columbus financial backing to sail from Spain to the New World, Mauricio and Paola hammed it up among the armor exhibits. My kind of companions! Merely viewing knight after knight of not-so-shining armor (minus the knights, of course) can get old after awhile.
On the afternoon train back to Madrid, we exchanged emails. That was in June. Mauricio and Paola went off to explore Eastern Europe. I went home and back to my job. I emailed Mauricio the pictures I took of our day together. But didn't hear back.
Until a few days ago. "heyyyyyyyy!!!!!" he wrote. "We were talking about our trip with Paola the other day and of course you poped(sic) up jejej" (the Spanish way of writing ha, ha, ha.)
He caught me up with news of their lives and their trip. Paola, still in Madrid, is taking intensive English classes and finished a master's degree, in city planning it sounds like. Mauricio didn't make it to Colorado this ski season because of difficulty getting into the country for an extended stay.
About their trip last summer, in his words:
"well about our trip wow it was a long long and super awesome time, so much thing to do eat, talk, learn and everything we went from spain all the way around eastern europe. i mean spain, france, italy, croatia, servia, hungary, solvenia, slovakia, austria, czech rep, poland, lithuania, latvia, estonia, finland, sweden, denmark uffffff and then uruguay and finaly chile home swett home.
well a lot of things to tell and remember, i am planning to go back to the states soon save a bit more and then go to asia...
well dear take care, send the article and of course if you ever wanna come chile you know you have a place to stay.
mauricio and paola
Would love to visit soon, you guys. No "maybe's" or "perhaps's" about it.
Photos: By Ellen Perlman and Mauricio Bolivar
1. Ellen and Paola holding up the old Roman aqueduct in Segovia. By Mauricio.
2. Mauricio, the knight NOT in shining armor. But also the only one alive. By Ellen
3. Shadow of the roman aqueduct, Segovia. By Ellen