The Dance

Life is a set of choreography. Daily, we develop routines and we understand the steps, operating without thinking on auto-pilot. Because of this we can miss so much of what goes on around us. Moving to Valencia, we find that we see more than we would normally at home because we don’t have the same schedules we did before.

The other day, we were meeting friends for lunch and came around the corner to a Tango Dance competition. You know, as you do. Yup, just walked up and heard the music. Then realized that people were dancing.

Tango is an interesting dance. The moves are very deliberate and slow. The partners are very engaged with one another and are more like one person than two people, as they move across the floor. I’ve included a video. It was so random we had to stop and watch for a while.

There are other kind of dances and they’re certainly less sexy than The Tango. This morning, we decided to walk through the park and have our coffee at a new place. As we sat there we watched the Dance of the Parking.

A little background here. We live down the street from one of many Central Commercial (aka Malls) and the one near our house has a lot of parking – free parking. But this doesn’t keep people from wanting to park on the street out front. Thus an industry has sprung up here, and in other parts of the city we’ve been in, where generally gentlemen of African descent manage this organically. Groups of them spread out and stand in open spots. If you want that spot they will direct you in and then you give them a Euro and everyone is happy.

Today, we saw a bit more directed operation. One guy sitting in our cafe seemed to own that area of the street. He even moved people’s cars that were double parked, held the keys of some of the people who lived in the area apartments or owned businesses on the street, and generally seemed to have it all under control. We watched this guy shuffle cars up and down the street. Everyone seemed to know him and they tipped him for his efforts.

All of this was happening while a construction dumpster company was creating havoc by moving and removing dumpsters from the same area, while trying not to take out some of the palm trees between which their dumpsters were wedged. It wasn’t going well. The African guy who was managing the on street parking situation was moving double parked cars and helping to accommodate it all.

Then the garbage truck showed up to empty the garbage/recycling neighborhood dumpsters directly across from where the parking guy and the construction dumpster guys where dancing with each other. And this set off the ‘Driving on the Sidewalk’ people to launch themselves into the mix. Since we were sitting at a table outside on said sidewalk, this gave us some skin in the game as we moved our chairs to accommodate those whizzing both in front of us and behind us.

Jeff and I sat and watched this Total Cluster for an hour. Traffic backed up and I thought, after watching this guy park cars like the professional he clearly is, if they just let the African guy position the dumpsters it would have taken less than half the time it took ‘the pros’, and the 100’s of cars that were backed up down the side streets would have been on their way. And the scooter who nearly took out the cafe con leche from the hand I was clutching it in, would have been more than 6 inches from my face while traveling 20 miles an hour on the sidewalk, weaving in an out of pedestrians and uniformed school children on their way to their local escuela.

Horns honked, shouting ensued. We just sat and watched it all. Something we would have had no time for back in the US. But it was such a strange convergence of nonsense we couldn’t look away. I didn’t try to capture the chaos in pictures or film because you just had to be there. Finally, Breakfast Beer makes total sense! Every morning we wake up with no idea what’s in store for us and I think that’s how I prefer it. New steps to learn in the Dance of Life.

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