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.


Anonymous said...

First, you looked very handsome in that uniform :)
Next, Barcelona is not exactly known for bagpipes but the region of Galicia is. This region of Spain looks more like Ireland than the rest of Spain. According to the poster this "cider" is world famous! ¡Salud!

tintin said...

MBN- As a matter of full transparency, it should be known "MBN" was my Spanish tutor in college. I can't remember if I, "Withdrew Passing" or if I failed.

Anonymous said...

My blue eyed, blond haired Puerto Rican grandmother's family was from near Barcelona. My grandfather was from cool, green Galicia. I've been there. Your tourist from Spain was right.


KSB said...

Tintin - was historic weapons/black powder safety training part of Reagan's defense build up in the mid 80s? I doubt the Soviets were drilling at Borodino with black powder in 1983. No wonder we won the Cold War!

Its pretty nifty that the Park Service has (had?) a black powder safety office as well.

tintin said...

DB- What happened to you? You look like Sergio Mendes.

KSB- I had to go through the course in order to make musket cartridges and canon rounds.

"A man gets to know powder. The smell of it. The taste of it." Colonel Sharpe

Brohammas said...

you needed a class for that? I once made a quiver of Dukes of Hazzard exploding arrows by mounting black powder filled hobby rockets on aluminum arrows tipped with percussion caps. I was eleven. My neighbors garage was never the same.

Anonymous said...

sangria and gazpacho in this weather sweetheart, plus iced almond/conag dessert, angel cake.

Anonymous said...

You learned the Spanish swear words and how to acknowledge a nice fanny. Star student! ME

tintin said...

ME- Dr Wiles would be proud.