My last evening with my good friends; I knew Mercedes and Pilar saw each other every single day, but I had probably seen them 3 out of 5 days for two years and all weekend, every weekend. And if I didn't understand all Spaniards in every situation I understood these Spaniards. And these were the women I'd waited for on corners or at home, who were never less than 30 minutes late, while for two years, I never mananged to be anything other than on time, in case they were there. And somehow I treasured my half hours waiting for them.

The longest time I waited was four hours. I know it is inconceivable. But the day was sunny, the meeting place was outside a bar. They didn't turn up but I ran into the fascist and ex-student Maurico, and we drank blancos - the white wine, thick, yellow and not chilled that smelled of elderberries. And we ate caracoles - little sea snails so ugly that it was best not to look at them - but so deliciously sea-like, served with a cork stuck with pins to pry off their little waxy doors and pull them out of their homes. And in Spanish time drinking blancos can go from 11:00 am to about 2:00 or 3:00 when people drift off for lunch. So I was there from 11:00, and I hung in and out of the bar chatting with old and new aquaintances on that hazy Saturday, watching the cars and mopeds pass by, until finally everyone left and I looked up and down the street and waited just a little longer, and then they arrived!

Mercedes had casts on both arms! Which was both a sufficient and visible excuse, because they had spent these last four hours at the hospital. The story got a little garbled in the amount of laughter it generated, but she had broken her wrist getting into her jeans. You know that moment when both your feet are tangled together at the bottom and if you have a hangover it's so easy to lose your balance and wham! And I never really got clear how it was that she'd also sprained the other wrist, so one wrist had a cast and the other a bandage with a plastic splint.

Other memories jogged by this photo. Further memories. Even more memories. This Photo. All the Photos

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