Don’t tell my parents!!!
So, today started just like any other day…….isn’t it funny that I can say that when I haven’t even been here a whole week? But when it feels like you have been here for months, you can say….today started just like any other day. J I got up and ate some of the fabulous fresh mango and pineapple Anna had made for me, before heading out the door for the half hour walk to the concert hall. I now know my way there with no problems and would love to walk it by myself, so that I could slow down and take some pictures. But Martin has told Merlin that he MUST take good care of me! In fact, Merlin says that he is my Cuban body guard and he takes being my escort very seriously. By the time we are ten minutes into our commute, I am soaked with sweat. It is really, really hot here. The humidity is soaring and luckily, I came with my Haiti mindset. That being… dress comfortably, pull your hair back, prepare to never be dry and step in front of every fan you see!! J Even the Cubans are hot. You can see them all fanning themselves and keeping to the shady side of the street. But they don’t seem to sweat much. They look cool as can be and I find myself wishing I had a bit of their DNA.
When we got to the school, people started pouring in, picking up their bows from yesterday, dropping others off. Did I mention that they were dropping more off?! You would not believe the pile of bows we have to do! I say ‘we’, but Merlin deposited me at the work bench and took off. He had lots of work to do elsewhere so I was on my own. I started cutting and cleaning and filing and polishing and combing and tying and rosining til I thought my hands would fall off. Official count as of now is 20 rehairs, 5 faceplates and four thumb leathers in two days. J Please don’t tell my parents because they might seriously start to re-think their expectations of my work at the shop!! J Merlin did help with some of those faceplates…in fact, if you count the ones that he did by himself, we are up to about 8 faceplates. Not bad for two days!! J At one point, an elderly man brought me a bass bow and asked for hair and a faceplate. His faceplate was bad, but it was still in one piece, so I told him that I would try. I would definitely do the hair but that I would have to see, time-wise, if I could get to the faceplate. He walked out and returned several minutes later, walked up to me and handed me a huge, beautiful mango. I laughed and laughed and told him that presents would get him special treatment. I looked at that mango all day long and his bow was finished by 6 oclock. J
Before lunch, David, the conductor of the symphony came in to sit and talk to me while I worked. He is a few years younger than me and has lived all over the world. He speaks good English and I enjoy hearing about why he chose the music that they are playing for this concert. After hearing him discuss the difficulty of playing Faure with the orchestra, I finally asked him, “How is it possible that these people play so well with such terrible equipment? “ Earlier I had heard a Paganini Caprice being played in the court yard by what could have been Jasha Heifetz….seriously. David said, “When I was growing up, my bow was terrible….it had no camber and a third of the hair.” When I would say something to my teacher, they would say, “You make it work….if you have no hair, you find more power in your bow arm…..whatever it takes, you find a way”. And that is exactly what these musicians have done. These are not, ‘oh-bless-their-heart-they-are-poor-and-have-no-resources’ musicians…..these are ‘thank-god-they-aren’t-showing-up-for-major-symphony-auditions-cause-all-those-Curtis-kids-would-be-screwed’ musicians. J And it is a pleasure to be rehairing for them.
My wonderful friend from yesterday, Lasier, is back and watching most of the day. He can still read my mind and when I figured out how to say it to him in Spanish; he grinned and said that the last LSF guy said the exact same thing to him. He brought me two cookie-type things at one point for breakfast and later offered to go get me a beer. I tried to explain to him that drinking while working didn’t really work for me and that I would wait til later, He smiled and took off, coming back 15 minutes later with a heaping plate of food!! He said that I had not stopped or eaten all day long and that I needed food. He took the lid off with a flourish and showed me a giant plate of meat. Yeeesh. Some of it I recognized…ham, cured ham (I think) and some sort of shrimp heaped on what looked like white worms but wasn’t pasta. ??? The rest of the meat ….there were six different kinds circling the plate…looked tripe-ish. Oh my….. Oh, and there was something that looked like Vienna sausage. The whole thing was covered with slices of cheese.
Most of you know that I was a vegetarian for 10 years. Now I eat meat all the time, and I have no problem with it…mostly. But this…..there was a whole lot of pig staring at me off of this plate. How was I ever going to eat it? This was street food at it’s finest…...all at room temperature. I just didn’t think I could do it. But really, you cannot just travel somewhere and turn down kindness like this!! I didn’t want him to think that Americans were too good to eat their food….or that I didn’t appreciate it! So, I took a bite of ham in front of him….”Yummmmm’, I said, smiling. Then I took a bite of Vienna sausage. Umm…..so definitely NOT Vienna sausage. After he stepped out, I started pushing the food around like crazy, trying to pile it up, leaving big empty spaces on the plate. That plate of meat sat their all afternoon. Cubans would come in, I would offer them some, they would dig in and the blank spots would grow. At the end of the day, there was STILL meat on that plate! But there was a lot less and I didn’t feel so badly.
Towards the end of the day, Merlin’s bass teacher came in for an emergency rehair. He is flying to Havana to play a Donzenetti opera tomorrow and was having bow problems. Merlin did it for him while we talked about bass players we knew. I shared some M and M’s with them and he showed me photos of his two year old son. It was a great ending to the day and it stressed for me again, just how small the music world is and how we all have this great thing in common that brings us together, even when we know nothing about each other.
After work, I went home, walking part of the way by myself. Merlin quizzed me on directions and finally seems to feel that I am ok. I go in to tell Anna that we will not be going to Guantanamo after all and that I will be staying another three nights after tonight. She smiles and hugs me and says that she is so glad and that I am part of the family. J When I ask for directions to the laundry mat, she insists on doing my laundry at no charge. “It makes our family so happy to have you here”, she said. How lucky am I? I gave her my mango, explaining that it was a gift to me and that I wanted to give it to her as a gift. She laughed and said that tomorrow morning, she would make me more mango for breakfast….”not THIS mango”, she said, pointing at the one that I had given her, “I will make you a different one”.
I feel so cared for. J
Tomorrow, I think we might finally be going to hear some music, so if you don’t hear from me, it is because I am salsa-ing with a good-looking Cuban man. J I will follow up with all of the details later. J But for now……