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Saturday, September 19, 2020

A day like a rollercoaster

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I had to postpone today’s original article because my computer suddenly broke down around noon. Probably the five power cuts we experienced on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, which reminded me of my stay in the Dominican Republic 25 years ago and I do actually associate with the Third World, finally finished it off.

Anyway, surprisingly I got it fixed for the reasonable amount of 30 euros in little more than an hour at a shop nearby, which for Valencia has very unusual opening hours and I would like to recommend to everybody, also because of the staff’s friendliness and professional attitude.

Due to my bad experiences in the last two and a half years, I didn’t feel like being in Spain, where there’s hardly any service mentality left that would deserve its name. I often feel treated like a beggar, although I want (or need) to spend my money and don’t have any intention to sponge.

So I was very happy that this technical problem got fixed amazingly fast. When I was about to return to the computer store to pick up my machine, a buddy called to give me some the bad news that a common friend had just passed away this afternoon.

It didn’t come as a surprise as he had been diagnosed with multiple issues. Still, I couldn’t hold back my tears. Even though I expected it, the loss of somebody I had learned to appreciate in the one and a half years that I saw him regularly made me realize again the fragility of life.

This quite atypical American had learned Spanish a long time ago, so he could communicate with the locals here in Valencia. Not only that, as often he came up with very sophisticated vocabulary that most people, incusing myself, had never heard. One could sense that he had read a lot of books, including some of the finest Spanish literature.

He also bothered to study the regional language Valenciano, something I never did and most likely will never do. So I couldn’t judge his level of proficiency. In any case, his dedication deserved praise and admiration.

At the same time, having first visited Spain around 35 years ago, just like myself he hold critical views about what he saw in Valencia nowadays. We would spend hours comparing the US, Spain, Germany and Taiwan. I had really hoped he would be able to visit to visit me there one day…

As he was an English native speaker and a retired university professor, I sometimes consulted him when I had little grammar questions and he always responded fast, sometimes giving me extra advice, often adding a comment that made me smile.

As a funny guy, he loved to tell jokes, both in English and Spanish. Those weren’t always the best, though at least he would admit it in advance. To me that seemed acceptable as an excuse, and often I laughed anyway!

I will also miss his excellent culinary taste, as he gave me some valuable recommendations in a city where there’s a lot of tasteless, repetitive and greasy food. His generosity included sharing expensive comestibles from abroad with me, including some delicious fish.

Every time I put on that white Under Armour baseball cap you gave me as a gift I will think about you, comrade! Not only because it’s the best that I have ever worn, but also because it will remind me of a kind, caring and considerate person that left us way too early.

Your suffering is over! Rest in peace! See you in a better world, amigo!

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