I am trying to learn Spanish. After several hints I finally got someone, Barbara, to agree to send me a Spanish/English dictionary. (I live in a town with no book stores.) I want to know Spanish in preparation to what I hope is my return to New York City. New York is a tri-lingual city, As for Chinese, I may get around to that some day.
New York is also a city of parks. There are hundreds of parks. I don't know if anyone really knows how many there are. Perhaps a clerk down the long hall, buried behind a desk of papers, in the Parks and Recreation Building, knows, or has it written down somewhere.
Some of the parks are very small, not much bigger than a car. They may have a bench, a small tree, a few bushes and a trash can. But some are large, a few contain lakes, some have zoos, one has a golf course. Central Park is the most famous one, of course. But here and there around the city are interesting parks that almost no one knows about.
For years I lived across the street from one of those. Inwood Hill Park, in northern Manhattan. The park spreads from the northern most tip of Manhattan Island west to the Hudson River. It has tennis courts, softball fields, a dirt bike track, hiking trails and caves. A highway, the Henry Hudson Parkway, goes through the middle of it. There are two passages under the Parkway so one can go to the other side of the park without danger. For years I knew only one of those passages. Then one day I discovered the other one.
I loved walking thorugh that park. It was mostly on a hill and it was wild. The Park Rangers rarely went into it, it was kept wild on purpose. Hence there was a lot of foliage, rocky ledges and trees. Many types of birds, wild hare and pheasants roamed around in there.
One day as I was walking in the park I heard Mariachi music. That wasn't unusual. People would often bring their radios up there with them. But I soon realized it wasn't a radio because the music kept playing and it sounded like a live band.
Curious as to where the music was coming from I wandered along an area of the park I wasn't used to. I came upon a strange marble and granite structure that once had been a staging place for some event, but was now all overgrown with trees and bushes. I stood on it and down below to my left I saw a paved walkway that seemed to disappear into the trees. I went down to investigate still hearing the music coming from somewhere. Down below, on that trail, I found a pedestrian tunnel under the highway.
I walked through .it. On the other side was a grassy area right next to the Hudson River. Stepping out on it I came upon a Mexican wedding reception in full fling. There were tables set up. People were eating, drinking, dancing, laughing, talking and, indeed, there was a live Mariachi band, guitars, violins and trumpets playing with heart and joy. When I was seen I was motioned to join in the celebration. Someone handed me a taco, someone handed me a beer. No one questioned me or wondered what I was doing there. I was Chico, Caballero, Hombre and Senor. I was a member of the wedding. I knew just enough Spanish from living in New York to say hello and thank you, but that seemed to be enough. I hung around for a while enjoying the fun. I found the bride and groom and wished them good luck, in English, and headed back home. When I did a couple of the men wished me "pura vida" whatever that means.
I wish I had known how to speak their language. Next time, if there is one, I will.
Never Give Up