23 July 2012
¡Firmes! El Gaitero
I meet this college kid from Spain on the gun deck of the Castillo de San Marcos almost 30 Summers ago. St Augustine had been a Spanish colony, on and off, from 1565 to 1821, and was a popular destination for Spanish tourists, especially ustedes from Barcelona and northern Spain.
I remember it was about a hundred degrees with matching humidity on the gun deck. What we called a thermal inversion. No breeze whatsoever. I'm wearing an eight pound wool coat based on the Spanish artillery uniform of 1740 with a black felt cocked hat, linen breeches and blouse, red stockings and reproduction 18th century buckle shoes.
The kid, blonde hair and blue eyed, is from Barcelona and tells me he plays the bag pipes. The heat is getting to me. "Sorry, you play the what?" "The bag pipes," he tells me. "You know, northern Spain is very Celtic." "No shit," I'm thinking to myself as the gun deck tilts to a 45 degree list and I see mortars and canon sliding through the embrasures into Matanzas Bay.
Heat exhaustion is no laughing matter but the National Park Service didn't think it fell under Worker's Compensation. Today, I know better... and yesterday, I found this odd bottle of Spanish Cider, in an even odder wine store (PJ's Wine) way the hell up in the Bronx where God left his shoes. El Gaitero or The Piper, is $5.50 for a 23 oz bottle. The colder it gets -- the dryer it gets.
Pretty nice with Gazpacho soup when there's a thermal inversion outside. I don't have to sweat the eight pound wool coat anymore but drink enough El Gaitero and I can watch the buildings slide off Manhattan. It might even be work related.