Chapter 22: Best Laid Plans

Uncle Jimmy!

It’s been a semi-quiet couple of days, so I thought I’d write you about something that happened to us back in 2017. An event which honestly seems to be our norm. This idea of planning something simple, and it never really turning out that way.

One night, I think in was in mid-June, we had been on the go for what seemed like forever. So we decided to have a quick bite to eat and just call it an early evening. Just that, nothing more. So we walked around the corner to a nearby seafood place with an outdoor patio. Dinner was exactly what we expected. We ordered, we ate, we prepared to go home and chill.

Then the Italian football team walked in.

OK, I need to go back a few minutes first. We were sitting on the outside edge of the patio, in the corner nearest the restaurant. Next to us was a single table, with a girl sitting there dining by herself. And then several empty seats and tables beside her, out towards the street.

Well, she finished just before us and was in the process of leaving. Actually got up and was fiddling with her things when she decides she wants one more drink. Only problem is the restaurant staff had already cleaned her table and pushed it together with the other empty ones for an Italian football team that had just walked in. Nowhere for her to go.

Well, I’ve never seen so much chivalry and instant problem solving in my life. The team was comprised of twenty-something males, plus their coaches who were older. Well, the girl’s space was re-carved out, one of the older guys went and bought her flowers, and it was then somehow decided that all of the tables in that row, including ours!, was going to be a communal thing that evening.

So much for a quiet night, right?

The team members spoke Italian, German, and English. The girl spoke Russian and German. Nikki had her Spanish and she and I our English. Three dozen people piled together, with flowers, and all those languages just worked. Somehow we spent hours with them, and never once did conversation lag. We laughed until we cried. We discussed things like I had never discussed before. At some point, the restaurant came out and started giving us free shots of liquor.

It’s funny, because the evening was two-fold. On one hand, there was the group. Sitting there with a group of 20-year-old dudes discussing politics. Oh shit, I thought, this won’t be good. Until after just a few minutes when I realized they should have thought that way about me instead. They were absolutely knowledgeable, eloquent, and a joy to talk to. About one of those subjects that is never supposed to be discussed with strangers. I was amazed at the depth at what they knew, and how they interpreted world events.

On the other hand, there was our original plan to chill. I think, in a way, we did get our “early night in” rest and relaxation. Instead of walking for miles and taking in new sights, we stayed in a single place. Talked and laughed and ate. Just with a few more people than the two of us. It was indeed relaxing, and to use a word I wouldn’t normally use, pretty damn magical. That evening sticks with us.

I think what I found most incredible about that night is that what we experienced really isn’t that unusual. Not here, at least. Sure, we have similar back in the Keys, where no one is a stranger at a bar. But it feels more like a normal event here. People are just more open to conversation, regardless of age, nationality, or any other label. Throughout all of our travels in Spain (and in places like Morocco as well!), it’s not something we even think about. It’s just the way it is.

OK, favorite uncle of mine. Gotta scoot. Talk to you soonest!

Love, Rick