The last passport

CROOOOSH! squealed the black-haired, buxom, white-skinned, freckle-faced (think glass of goat milk sprinkled with cinnamon) Argentine as she leaned over the railing.

From five stories up, she had spotted the soft-drink truck parked on Calle Norzagaray in Old San Juan.*

It was Orange Crush that excited her 40 years ago. It wasn’t a soft drink that I favored then or now. But that moment seared onto my memory stone, and the memory appeared again this week in San Miguel de Allende.

I was with another young, lovely Latina, but this time sitting in El Comal de Doña Meche on Calle Insurgentes in the Gringo-infested outpost of San Miguel.

El Comal de Doña Meche is a gorditas joint.

Faced with a cooler stocked with varieties of soft drinks, I chose first an apple flavor, and we polished that off. I returned and spotted the Orange Crush, so I pulled that out, popped the top and set it on the table. Croooosh!

I can’t recall important things from last week. Yet I remember this silly thing decades later. I could almost smell the salt surf pounding the playa down at La Perla.

We were in San Miguel to renew my U.S. passport at the Consular Agency. It was a smooth process, and I arrived at 9:30 a.m. to find only one person ahead of me in line.

US-PassportcoverUnlike my Mexican passport, which is delivered on the same day it’s requested, the U.S. passport will be express-mailed to me in a couple of weeks.

Like the Mexican version, which I renewed not long ago, the document is good for 10 years. I will be into my early 80s, so these will, I imagine, be my last passport renewals.

And we celebrated with gorditas and Croooosh!

* * * *

* The photo seen in the link shows the five-story, pink building where I lived on the roof.

Penthouse playmate

Puerto

WITH ABOUT 85 percent of one’s life lived, it’s easy to focus more on the past than the future. I tend to do this especially at 5:30 in the morning.

Two periods in my life stand out as being particularly tasty. During both I was living in the Latin world, and during both I was living with Latin women. I married the second, but not the first though I considered it.

I drank a lot.

The second, of course, is my current, third and final wife who is Mexican and was a civil engineer. The first was Argentine and was a hooker. I rescued her from a life of sin. She found work as a legitimate waitress, and we cohabited in a penthouse atop a five-story apartment building overlooking the sea in Old San Juan in the early 1970s.

Readers who’ve hung around here for a spell have heard all this before — do forgive — but the focus today is the top photo, which I do not think I’ve posted previously. I could be mistaken, but no matter.

I have the memory of a tree trunk.

I do not recall who snapped the top photo. We rarely had visitors there on the roof. There was no elevator up the five floors and the stairwell risers were not uniform, making it an arduous ascent.

We tended to go out no more than twice a day. Once was to go to work — mine at the newspaper and hers at the restaurant, both night jobs — and then there was the second descent for whatever, groceries, lunch.

The likely photographer was Luis Muñoz Lee, a good friend and the son of Luis Muñoz Marín, the “George Washington” of modern Puerto Rico. Muñoz Lee was an artist and he also worked with me on the newspaper out on the John F. Kennedy Highway.

Luis, like me, was quite taken with the Argentine who was not your typical ex-hooker. She was very bright and incredibly rebellious.

She was just 20, and we fussed a lot.

In the top photo, the door to the left was the entrance from the stairwell. The door I’m leaning against, wearing my knockout bell bottoms, was the living room door. I was just inside that same door facing the opposite direction in daylight when I snapped the photo below.

Things come back to you at 5:30 a.m. If you’re lucky, you have photos.

And if you’re really lucky, you have people who will listen to you ramble on about them 40 years later.

silvina