At El Horreo the cafe a short stroll along along the road from my rooms on Rose Street the day has a reliable familiarity to it, at around nine am the cafe opens somewhat sleepily, like a rather grumpy middle aged man, here you can find me on most days taking my breakfast, always the same, cafe con leche – bien fuerte, fresh orange juice & a toasted baguette filled with manchega cheese and a slice of bacon. I add a little smoky jalapeño sauce & I’m away, imagining myself a real Chicharrero in Tenerife.
The other customers early in the day are mostly older locals, retired & not working. They arrive one by one from apartments above the street, the old fella slowly with his stick one step a struggle after another, his wife who arrives five minutes before him more nimble & agile already has her nose buried in the local paper and her coffee in front of her. She breaks off from reading for a moment to check on her spouse, once satisfied she returns to the news.
Above the street an extremely noisy parrot in one of the flats screeches from its balcony home, when the cacophony continues for too long the grumpy waiter hollers upwards and curses at the parrot to shut up. It works. There are two waiters, Grumpy Guts and Christopher Martin, the later I like, he chats, we laughed at our forenames when we learn each others, mine being Martin Christopher & his the reverse. Grumpy Guts on the other hand is another kettle of fish all together, he finds it a challenge to utter the simplest of pleasantries, but then he is an arse.
Even on a weekday the City is never too frantic, white van hombres park up in Rose street & disgorge their morning deliveries for the shops. The butcher from the next door Carniceria steps out of his domain to take a break and stands in the street with hands on hips surveying the scene like a portly potentate then engages the old couple at the closest table in conversation. He talks of his recent trip to La Gomera, the closest Island to Tenerife.
Every once in a while an attractive woman passes the cafe, heels clicking on pavement, I find the vista too interesting not to let my eyes follow as tanned legs and arms disappear into the distance.
At around 10.30 my Spanish teacher arrives, this man is a bit of a later day Saint, the patience of Job springs to mind. Rarely can a person have had to struggle with a student so determined not to do his homework. We sit for an hour, he tries his best to teach me, I with unfailing regularity forget everything he tells me within minutes of the words leaving his lips.
As lunchtime approaches the clientele of the caf morph into a younger crowd, the old folks slip away home to the shade away from the heat of the day, the parrot begins to sing again, less loudly now as though he understands he’s in trouble if he over does it.
The butcher has a rush on and heads back inside, a queue has formed, socially distanced of course, the breeze picks up and the petals from the flamboyant trees overhead tumble in a flurry like red snow, though the wind is warm and pleasant and the concept of cold weather is no more than the memory of another life.
I gesture to Grumpy Guts, order one last coffee and ask for my bill, time marches on and a bloke can’t just watch the world go by forever, even for Chicharrero like me.