One Friday night back in September, Lola and I were strolling around the center of town sticking our noses into the bars and cafés in la plaza mayor looking for some action. The town was dead. There was nobody around. Even Bar Danubio, which is usually filled with little old men wildly swinging their walking sticks and shouting at the bullfights on the TV, was empty.
Then we heard a woman’s voice calling out, “¡Ayúdame! ¡Por favor! ¡Necesito ayuda!” (“Help me! Please! I need help!”)
We followed the voice down a little side street and found a woman standing there in the dark holding a pizza box.
“¿Estás bien?” (“Are you OK?”)
“Tengo un problemilla. Me he dejado la llave arriba.” (“I have a little problem. I left my key upstairs.”)
She pointed up to a third story window, the only one with lights on in the entire building.
Turns out, the poor girl ordered a pizza and, when she heard the Telepizza moped arriving, she ran downstairs without her key and the door closed behind her. She had also left her phone in the apartment. And, it was her first night in Plasencia. She had just moved here to take a restaurant training course and she didn’t know a soul. AND, as if things couldn’t have gotten any worse, the poor girl was in her pajamas and slippers.
She used Lola’s phone to call her mother. Her mother had a spare key, but she lived in a village 45 minutes away by car. From what we overheard of the conversation, (“We just dropped you off a few hours ago!”) mom was none too happy about the chain of events that was unfolding.
We offered to wait with her until dear old mom arrived, but she didn’t want to impose. We asked if we could bring her a drink from the café around the corner. She politely declined, sat down on the step outside her door and unenthusiastically started in on her pizza which, at this point, was stone cold.
We told her we’d be just around the corner if she needed anything. We had a drink and a bite to eat (a big plate of callos – tripe with garbanzos in a spicy tomato sauce), during which Lola slipped out twice to check on the girl. We paid the bill and when we checked on her again, mom had arrived. We were introduced as the nice “older couple” that had let her use their phone. (That’s the last time I help somebody in their twenties…)
But now there was another problem: when she had run downstairs to get the pizza, she had left her key hanging in the lock on the inside of the door. So now it was impossible to get mom’s spare key to open the door from the outside. Then one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen in Plasencia occurred. An old Gypsy man, who had obviously never missed a meal, came strolling along accompanied by an 11 or 12 year old boy. They were informed of the situation at hand. The man stubbed out his cigar, placed it in his shirt pocket, and turned to the boy.
“Bueno, enséñales lo que puedes hacer,” he said. (“Well, show them what you can do.”)
The boy climbed up onto the old man’s shoulders, grabbed the first floor balcony railing and pulled himself over. He shimmied up the drain pipe and swung himself over the second floor railing. He worked his way up the last section of drain pipe, swung himself onto the third floor balcony and climbed into the girl’s living room window.
In a flash he was back down in the street again. (He used the stairs for his descent.) He handed the girl her key. I was speechless. The girl and her mother thanked the pair profusely. The old man shrugged it off as if it was nothing.
“No hay de qué.” (“Don’t mention it.”)
The boy didn’t make a fuss about it, either. He acted as if it was the most natural thing in the world to shimmy up a three story building with no ropes or protection whatsoever.
I had never seen them around town before and I haven’t seen them since.