Daniel Guridi Árregui - The Man On The LeftSaturday, August 05, 2006
When I travel I have the time to reflect. I remember a trip to Europe with Rosemary, Ale and Hilary in the mid 80s. Our daughters were in their early teens and quickly tired of museums. The handsome bell boys of our Madrid hotel were a high point in their trip. By the time we got to Málaga all they wanted to do was to lie in the sun on the beach. While they did this I tried to mend a fence from my past.
It is too late to say to Daniel Guridi Árregui (the man on the left in photo) that I valued the friendship he tried to give me.
Daniel Guridi Árregui married Filipina Lilly Pardo de Tavera in Manila in the late 40s. Daniel, as we all called him had left his boyhood town of Mondragón in the Basque Province in Spain when he was 15 to play as a professional jai-alai player in the pelota courts of the world. Pelota is the name for the game that the Basque rather use and those who play the game are pelotaris. In those years this sport was played professionally in Hong Kong, Macao, Manila, Mexico City, Miami and many more places. Part of its attraction, beyond its fantastic speed and beauty, was (you still can see the game in Miami) that you could wager. Best of all you could even wager while games were being played. Daniel was a fenómeno a word Spaniards use for describing those few mortals that seem to have a talent that transcends reason. Lilly Pardo's mother, Doña Pacita was a friend of my family. Both my grandmother and mother had taught Lilly at school in Manila. Somehow when our family moved to Mexico in 1953, Daniel, wife, daughter, Dedé (Lilly's unmarried sister, third from left) and Doña Pacita were also there. I could not go to the frontón (another name for the sport) until a few years later when I was 18.They did not allow minors at the games. So I never saw Daniel play. I avoided him because I hated his daughter Marili (I was misguided then about women) who would come to the house to play!
When Daniel retired from the frontón he set up a gun shop on Avenida Insurgentes Sur, right next to the apartment where I lived with my mother and grandmother. On the other side of our apartment was a pleasant looking old mansion. To the horror of my grandmother, a gentleman buzzed our door bell one late evening thinking he was buzzing next door. It was then that we found out that the mansion was of ill repute.
Daniel sold beautiful Breda over & under shotguns and Beretta pistols. He taught me a thing or two on these guns. Finally, when Mexican generals (the permit to have a gun store came from the Defense Ministry) abused the privilege of coming to the shop to ask Daniel for contributions to their forthcoming vacation in Acapulco, Daniel called it quits and moved to Málaga where he set up a VW dealership.
It was in Málaga around 1985 that Rosemary, and my daughters Ale and Hilary caught up with the Guridis. By then I had come to understand that Daniel, who did not have an education, but suffered chronic insomnia had educated himself by reading all night. Being a frontón player involved getting home very late at night and so as not to disturb Lilly he got into the habit of reading. I loved discussing literature with Daniel.
He was famous for his paella a la valenciana . The secret to his paella, many asserted, was his discrete depositing of his cigar ash while stirring the pot. So I arrived at Daniel's door with a box of Montecristo Claros and a bottle of the finest fino manzanilla I could find. While the women roamed the beaches Daniel and I caught up. We lit up our cigars and savoured our finos. I realized that while arriving a bit too late for his friendship, just a bit of it was enough to last me a lifetime.