Learning Spanish: The Masked Man

My youngest sister Meg had come to visit me in Valencia, Spain. I had not yet climbed the Micalet–a tower near the cathedral–so we decided to do it. We went into the church and a sign told us to wait until we were called forth.

Nearby, in a small alcove, we could see a masked man behind a desk, on top of which sat the plastic screen we had, by now, become accustomed to seeing.

It was January, 2022, and holiday gatherings had caused COVID cases to start rising again. Lucky for us, the rising numbers had stopped most people from traveling to and around Europe. So at first, we were the only people waiting, dutifully masked.

We waited.

And waited.

Wondered what we were waiting for.

And then we saw them: people started to come out of the little alcove.

“Oh,” I said. “We have to wait for the people that are up there to come down.”

After ten people passed by us and left the church, we were beckoned forward. The Masked Man took our money and gave us our tickets. Then, he pointed to his mask, and said a word I will never forget: siempre. Always.

It was a word I had seen and heard many times in my Spanish studies but had yet to remember what it meant. But experiences like this? Now, that word was mine.

Meg is coming to visit again next week. I wonder what new words I’ll learn then?

The Micalet

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