Sunday, 6 May 2012

Cesar Jalon 1967-2012 by Theo

October 2008. We'd been sitting in our campervan in a Repsol Garage just outside San Sebastian de los Reyes for about 30 minutes, cursing the fact that our mobile batteries had died and wondering whether we were in the right place. We were due to be spending the night with Belen, our new Madrilena friend, who had long since overtaken us on the road to Madrid in the Pueblo Ingles coach. Suddenly, just as we were about to head off in search of a public phone an Audi snaked its way across the forecourt and pulled up alongside us. "Kate and Theo? Hi, I'm Cesar, Belen's partner." So began our friendship with the irrepressible, warm, funny, enthusiastic and helpful Cesar Jalon, a friendship all too sadly cut short yesterday when Cesar lost his fight against the pancreatic cancer he'd been diagnosed with over a year ago.

Cesar was at the centre of our world in Madrid. A Spaniard raised in Nambia and South Africa, English (Afrikaans, German and French) was as natural to him as Spanish, and so he swiftly became our translator, both in terms of culture as well as language. When not guiding us through paperwork he helped us unblock mobiles, jump start cars, get backstage at Africa Vive, and jump queues at clubs. Our efforts to repay his and Belen's kindnesses really were painfully inadequate - we often wondered how we would have managed in Madrid without them.

When we made the decision to move to Madrid we had no idea where we would live; we arrived on Jan 5th 2009 after a 36 hour drive from the UK and checked into a bland travelodge outside Madrid, despondent and just a little depressed. At 11pm that night we were woken by Cesar's voice on the phone: "Where are you? In Alcobendas? That's ridiculous! Come here immediately!" Our relief and gratitude were indescribable: in that one conversation we suddenly both knew that life in Madrid was going to work out.  

Cesar was the first person to visit us in Hospital La Paz after Rosie was born; if we'd been the sort of people who have godparents for their children, Cesar would have been top of the list. As a regular visitor to the UK (his brother lives in London) we'd assumed he'd be able to follow her as she grew up. If his death is a tragedy for all those who knew and loved him, it's an even bigger one for those who, like Rosie, never really got to know his warm and playful heart. Our love and condolences go out to Belen and all his family.  

Adios amigo.

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