Every building in our neighborhood, for the most part, has “porteros” or doormen. They work from 9AM-8PM daily except for that 2PM-5PM siesta time period. And if you are lucky, you have a portero with whom you can practice your spanish, with whom you can leave your house keys for your kids when they have forgotten theirs. Your portero may celebrate your foot coming out of the walking boot, or race down the sidewalk when he sees you struggling with your cart full of groceries. If you are lucky your portero may help you double lock and hang your bike in the tiny space you have in the parking garage. He may even help you get propane for your grill (because here it’s impossible to get propane without ordering it through the gas company, filling out loads of papers, going to multiple offices, etc.) Let’s just say we are very, very lucky.
During the week, Juan is our guy and he does all of the above things and more. He’s awesome. On the weekends, we have Paco as our portero. Paco is quiet. He sits at the desk in the lobby and mostly reads. I don’t practice much spanish with Paco because he doesn’t much talk. But what he does do is love Boo and Kate. Every single time I take the dogs out for a walk, Paco gives me a package of treats.. not one treat.. but a brand new bag! And after that walk, Paco gives me another. I don’t know why. And it certainly must be expensive.. which is why I’ve written thank you notes to him and slipped in a little bit of cash. While Paco liked the notes, he wasn’t thrilled about the cash.. almost offended really.
Today in the elevator I saw this.
On La Merce (last Tuesday which was the La Merce holiday), Paco passed away. I knew he’d been sick, but didn’t know how sick. So I asked Juan what happened. From what I could decipher (as Juan speaks Spanish.. and fast), Paco died from alcoholism. He had no family. He had no kids. And I think he looked to Juan as being his only friend. Juan showed me a letter Paco gave him on September 11 (written in beautiful penmanship and in Spanish) telling Juan he was certain he was going to die.
Monday is Paco’s funeral. I think I am going to go with Juan to it. It makes me sad. I may also donate money to a shelter here in honor of Paco, the dog loving Spaniard. Thanks for loving Boo and Kate Paco!! Rest in peace… xo