The Lady From Majorca …

We were walking though our neighborhood on rue de Buci 

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and decided it was time for oysters at an outside table at L’Atlas, where we have been many times before.  Seated next to us was a young American couple John and Melissa. They had been in Europe 3 months.  After deciding they wanted a broader experience in life they were able to manage job transfers from the U.S. to Geneva.  Here we were at opposite ends of life sharing our enthusiasm for new cultures, new language, new experiences, and of course, food.  We parted planning to meet again some time in the future.

Later that night, Geneva reappeared at our door 

It was a little after midnight; E was in his bathrobe and R in pajamas when we heard the doorbell ring. We looked at each other; who could that possibly be? E opened the door and there was a woman, an urgent look on her face and trailing a roller board suitcase. (The roller board is a common sight on the streets of Paris) 

“I’m desperate,” she said in accented English. “I don’t know what to do. I went to the airport, I missed my plane, I was staying in the apartment across the hall but left the keys with the concierge when I left for the airport, the concierge is not home and I don’t have a telephone.”   She was no longer the age when a person doesn’t get caught dead without a mobile. 

We invited her in, offered her the use of our phone so she could call her son in Geneva.  Cecilia lives in Palma de Majorca and had been invited to come to Paris to see the Bejart ballet. As it happened, we had seen Bejart the night before, as had she.  Her son’s friend owns the apartment across the hall where she had been staying and she had left earlier that evening to catch her plane back to Majorca. She had gone early enough, and got there just as the plane was leaving the gate.  An unfortunate miscommunication between mother and son. 

The only solution was for her to spend the night with us. Before she would agree, she insisted that we come stay with her in Palma de Majorca.   She was not able to reach her son so left a message and went to sleep with R’s cell phone by her side for the return call. 

By the time we woke Cecilia was dressed and had spoken to her son.  He had already made arrangements for her to take the plane to Palma de Majorca the following day and had spoken to Fatima who was on the way up with the keys.  

We had coffee together and again she insisted we visit her in Palma de Majorca, where she had converted a 500-year-old barn. The barn had historic importance and she urged us to look at the website and it is indeed magnificent. 

As a good friend of the dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch and her husband, Cecilia had been invited to attend a performance of the ballet Orphée and Eurydice, which was being performed at the Opera Garnier.  She was unable to go but in another coincidence, we had tickets for that very performance. Nevertheless she insisted that she would call Roland Bausch and get us tickets.

The next night we got a call from Roland Bausch apologizing that he could not get us tickets as all the performances were sold out. Instead he invited us to attaned the company’s performances when they returned to Paris in the summer. We thanked him, but we will be back in California.

We attended the ballet, Orphée et Eurydice the next night.

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It is based on one of the great myths and open to many interpretations.  Orphée was the greatest musician and poet of Greek myth.  His singing charmed all objects, animate and inanimate; animals, rocks, trees, nothing and no one could resist his seduction.  He and Eurydice were deeply in love.  Wandering together in a field Eurydice was bitten by a serpent (oh, that serpent), and died.  She was taken to the underworld by Hades. Orphée went to the underworld to get her and his singing was so beautiful that Hades agreed she could leave, with one condition. Orphée must lead her out of the underworld but he could not look back to see her or she would fall back forever. 

As he led Eurydice out of the underworld she begged him to tell her he loved her and accused him of no longer loving her since he would not look at her.  Helpless against her entreaties, he turned around and she fell back into the underworld.  It is a very moving opera and here added to the magnificent music was extraordinary dancing.  Though a tragic and moving story, it was a blissful musical experience. 

4 days later we were in Nice about to board the TGV for a return to Paris from a weekend on the French Riviera when R’s cell phone rang. It was Cecilia calling to remind us of our promise to visit her in Majorca. 

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