for Tino

There’s a little grocery store run by an elderly couple in Calle Trujillo right off Plasencia’s main square. Lola and I stop in once in a while for a few last minute items. It’s handy because the shop is literally a ten second walk from Lola’s office. I heard that the husband, Tino, was sick recently. Then, out of nowhere, I was told that he’d passed away. Apparently, he was in much worse condition than previously thought. Cancer.

Tino was a real character. Every time I stopped in to buy something he’d come out from behind the counter to shoot the breeze. He loved to travel, but he and his wife never took vacations together. Old school Spaniards that they were, one of them always stayed behind to keep the shop open. When one of them returned from vacation the other one would go off somewhere for a couple of weeks. Tino traveled all over the world on guided tours for senior citizens. He had a special love for the USA.

Tino always greeted me with, “¿Qué tal el tiempo en Michigan?” (“How’s the weather in Michigan?”)

And I would always respond, “No tengo ni idea. Soy de Pennsylvania.” (“I have no idea. I’m from Pennsylvania.”)

“Ahhh… Es verdad.” (“Ahhh… that’s right.”)

And the next time I’d stop in I would hear, “¿Qué tal el tiempo en Michigan?” from behind the deli counter in the corner. Never failed.

tino1 001

photo of Tino I took back in 2005

In the evenings Tino used to go for cañas with a group of friends after closing up the shop. If he spotted Lola and I having a drink he’d always come over for a quick chat. Later, when we asked for the bill, the waiter, without fail, would say, “Tino ha pagado.” (“Tino paid.”) Of course, at this point, Tino and his friends were long gone.

A few times we tried to buy a round for Tino and his friends, but he’d always catch us in the act. We’d hear a shout from across the bar, look over our shoulders, and we’d see Tino wagging a finger at us with a Don’t you dare! look on his face. He had a great sense of humor and a great sense of mischief. And he was a true caballero. So wherever you are now, Tino, I hope it’s warmer than it is in Michigan right now.

Well, not too warm…

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