I will meet you in Las Vegas

Eduardo Centelles

1. My grandfather Eduardo Centelles with a friend at the door of El Pilar Basilica (Zaragoza). 2. Wedding portrait. 3. Portrait for the Spanish military service.

My grandfather Eduardo never visited Las Vegas. He was born in a family of farmers in Alcañiz, a small town located in the north-east of Spain. He came out to this world without medical assistance, in his parents bed. He never had toys. He had the silent countryside and the open sky. His favorite game was capturing scorpions with glass jars and try to make them angry with a stick.

He had to quit school when he was 12 to help his dad with the sheep, but he would always remember every river, capital and historical fact he memorized when he was a kid. He spent his life repairing trucks. Breathing those fumes for decades caused him lung cancer.

There were two things that made him vastly happy: his family and the countryside. He would grow every kind of fruit and vegetable typical from Bajo Aragón -a region of Spain known for its fine olive oil and peaches- and he would split the harvest between the members of the family. When I was little, he cultivated licorice for me.

He had many dreams the low-middle Spanish class born in the post-war era could not fulfill. “One day, when I win the lotto, ‘Martica’, -he used to repeat me,- we’ll leave your grandma here (she refuses to travel) and we will go to Las Vegas. Will you come? Just you and me”. He was fascinated about how they found water in the middle of the dessert and built a city out of nothing. He also wanted to visit the Grand Canyon. I think he would have felt like one of those cowboys he used to admire in the western movies.

I don’t know how serious he was about this idea of going to Las Vegas, but I was deeply committed with it and used to remind him he had made a promise. It would be the best adventure ever. He would win the lotto and we would go. Soon. Why not? He deserved that.

But my grandfather Eduardo never went to Las Vegas. He travelled the world through our national television documentaries. He never knew how it feels to take a plane. He didn’t visit any different country from Spain except from France, when he was in the military service.

I don’t believe in the sky but I do believe in Las Vegas. I will go there one day and I will find my grandfather. He will be standing outside The Bellagio, with his hands inside his pockets and his infinite smile, waiting for me to get inside.

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Olga Rodríguez

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