Tropical music memories

HAVING WATERED the potted plants on the downstairs terraza, an every-Saturday-morning chore, I sat a short spell in one of the wicker rockers and listened to a song coming through the window behind me from the living room music machine. Roberto Carlos was singing El Show Ya Terminó.

borderIt reminded me of Puerto Rico, where I lived in the 1970s in a penthouse atop a five-story building on Calle Norzagaray* in Viejo San Juan — Old San Juan — overlooking the sea. I lived there with an Argentine named Silvina, a reformed working girl who always kept things from getting stodgy.

Once, she flew back to Buenos Aires for something or other, leaving me briefly alone high above Calle Norzagaray, but when she returned she brought gifts, vinyl discs of Atahualpa Yupangui, an Argentine folk singer and guitarist, and of Vinicius de Moraes, a Brazilian.

We spent many a late night — after I had returned from my work at the San Juan Star and she from her job waitressing at a restaurant-bar — sitting on our rooftop patio, next to the hammock, with Bacardi, Coke and music, watching cruise ships sail into the dark, starry nights.

Those two vinyl records have long vanished. I forget the title of Yupangui’s disc, but I have since purchased another of his albums on a modern CD. I like it, but far better is the compact disc I found of the exact other album she brought from Buenos Aires. It is titled Vinicius de Moraes con Maria Creuza y Toquinho.

mdThey sing in Portuguese which may be the loveliest language of them all.

I left Silvina behind when I returned to the mainland, but about five years ago she found me on Facebook. She was back in Buenos Aires, running a stable of taxicabs. She reminded me that I had introduced her to T-Bone Walker, so I emailed mp3 versions of T-Bone, and she thanked me.

She has grandchildren now, but I don’t — and never will.

It’s amazing where morning on a Mexican terraza will lead one’s time-stretched mind.

* * * *

* Calle Norzagaray is a short street, and I think the building where I lived is the pink one in the photo, but don’t hold me to that. It’s been 40 years, even though my second wife and I visited just 20 years ago.

(Other visits to the island are here and here.)

14 thoughts on “Tropical music memories

  1. Don’t stop now. Please reminisce more and write about it. Puerto Rico, Silvina, rum, late nights and listening to Vinicius de Moraes…I’m falling in love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bev: Falling in love is always a good thing.

      I used to mention my time in San Juan more often in my previous website, The Zapata Tales, but I rarely do anymore. I don’t recall specifically when you started passing by here, but it likely was after my more frequent mentions of Puerto Rico.

      I lived in San Juan on two occasions in the early 1970s. First time I was there about five months, and was forced to quit and return to the U.S. due to labor strife at the unionized newspaper. The union was run by the Puerto Rican communist party. Literally. And they were always stirring up crap. Probably one reason that leftists drive me nuts to this day.

      Later I returned and stayed for 11 months. I don’t remember why I quit that time. Probably just because I used to be a very unstable fellow. Actually, it might have been the second visit during which the communist union forced me away. It’s been about 40 years, and my mind wanders.

      It was the second stay when I lived in that penthouse. That is certain. It was spectacular.

      Here are two other posts that deal with my time in San Juan:


      1. I am still unstable and kind of like living this way, though I am thinking that I will never leave Mexico, or return to the USA except to visit family, occasionally, and to buy underwear.


        1. Bonnie: I know I will never return to the U.S. to live. No doubt about it. I have not even visited since 2008, and it’s my intention to leap entirely over the Barry disaster. Perhaps we’ll fly to Houston for a short jaunt after the next presidential inauguration. Or perhaps not. I have virtually no relatives up there now.

          Funny you should mention underwear. My wife also thinks skivvies are superior above the border.


  2. A very nice post amigo…a good read on a sunny Sunday morning…strange how music acts as a memory catalyst…bringing a flood of memories…sometimes good and sometimes not so much…best part was you couldn’t work Barry into it somewhere! Have a good week…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Charles: I did my best to think of some way I could badmouth Barry in the context of the post, but I couldn’t. Dang! He had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever, so I gave him a pass.

      I don’t know why the song made me think of San Juan. It was not a song I heard at the time. It was just the style of music.


        1. Señor Gill: Cannot get that file on my screen, but I see it comes from the White House and has something to do with a birth certificate. I wonder whose? No matter. Just two years more.


  3. It’s interesting that you listened to Vinicius de Moraes during your time in Puerto Rico. I play in a lounge\jazz group every week, and we play at least two or three of his songs during the night. Of course, Antonio Carlos Jobim is the name that most musicians associate with Girl From Ipanema, No More Blues, and How Insensitive, but Moraes was the lyricist and was equally important in the creation of the Bossa Nova style. How about Salsa? You must have heard it played everywhere you went. Not as romantic, but it certainly is, or was the musical heart of Puerto Rico.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting, Paul. I know nothing of music apart of “what I like.” I had never heard of de Moraes before that time in Puerto Rico, and I don’t recall ever hearing his name since.

      But I was listening to that album just today.


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