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The (very) old man and the sea
What salt has joined together, let no man pull asunder.

(by Pablo Burgués)

The other day I went for a reinvigorating swim in the crystal-clear waters of the piers at Sa Caleta. The place is an idyllic and quiet tiny round bay surrounded by old fishermen huts. A very very old and very very wrinkled sailor, whom later I nicknamed Sodium, was sitting down in front of the door of one of them. I couldn’t tell his age exactly, but at a random guess I think he would be between 87 and 5.200 years old (or thereabouts). Well, it seems that the guy was not too busy that morning and as he saw me he stood up, came stealthily close to where I was, sat next to me pretending he wasn’t, and without realizing it he was telling me his whole long life.

 

To be honest at the beginning the situation was a bit odd, because that gentleman I didn’t know at all began telling me, all of a sudden and in minute detail, a lot of private matters regarding his mischievous and erotic and festive youth. The truth is that the guy was very funny and his stories were hilarious, but unfortunately I cannot tell here any of them because it’s children’s viewing time and all his stories were very hardcore/bizarre.

We had been talking for about half an hour, lively and spicily, when suddenly and unexpectedly Sodium kept silent, with a blank look, gazing into an indeterminate place in the sky. I asked him if he was OK and he, without even looking at me, replied: “Son, do you want me to tell you about salt?” Fine, I answered, thinking that salt would be the code name of another of his youthful affairs. But far from it, the guy referred to real salt, that white and trivial thing used for cooking and about what nobody in one’s right mind could tell more of a couple of sentences. Well, it seems that my new friend had worked half of his life in the salt lakes at Ibiza, and nothing makes him happier than talking about the life story of sodium chloride.

 

So, for the following two hours and thirteen minutes, he guy told me absolutely everything (and I mean everything) the human being has told, done, written or thought about salt: “Do you know that the salt is the only rock that can be eaten?” “Do you know that in ancient Egypt people referred to it as “white gold”? Do you know what’s the meaning of the Latin word salarium?” A salt machine to get a suntan?, I said, to see if he found it funny and relaxed himself a bit. But no, he went on. “It means salt pay and it’s the origin of the word salary”.

The scene reminded me of the film Forrest Gump, when, in the army, Tom Hanks meets Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue, a black guy who spends half of the movie talking about prawns. Well, Sodium is the Bubba of salt. Indeed, I think I’m going to change his nickname and from now on I’ll call him Forrest Salt.

To be continued…

 

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Pablo Burgués on Instagram and Twitter

Translation: Dora Sales

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