Magic Cards

This is the lobby of our hotel in Bilbao.  There was a 7-story tall stone structure (ahem) in the middle, and the floors reminded us of the Guggenheim in New York City.

Hans has a thing for magic, and card tricks in particular.  In fact, the first thing that he purchased was a trick deck of cards at FAO Schwartz in New York City, after having seen them demonstrated by some fellow.

In Lyon, while strolling through the streets of the old town near our hotel, we came across a young backpacker, sitting cross-legged on the street, with a small carpet in front of him and a deck of cards sitting in the middle.   When Hans approached, he asked if Hans enjoyed card tricks.   Hans said he liked them, and so the man offered to show him a trick, but not for money.  It was a good one, involving a single card appearing and disappearing throughout the deck, the whole deck of cards changing.  When he was finished, he offered to show Hans how it was done.  Of course, at the end of showing it, there was another trick that we couldn’t figure out.  Slight of hand is amazing in that way.  Then he offered to give Hans that deck of cards as a gift, and he didn’t want to take any money for it.

Not fully grasping a memorable moment of receiving a trick deck of cards from a French man on a street corner in Lyon, I kept saying that Hans already had a deck of cards like that at home.   (To my defense, I was thinking that this man, who had his whole life in a backpack, didn’t needed to give away a deck of cards to a kid who already had something like that.)

We thanked him and walked down the street.   When Anders asked why I had put the kibosh on a sweet moment, and Hans fully understood that that man was going to GIVE him the deck of cards, Hans’ long face came out.   We suggested Hans could play a song for the man on his ukulele, which he was carrying in a pack on his back, and ask for the cards.   He returned to the guy, plopped down and learned a couple more ticks, and happily left with the deck of cards.

This same deck of cards helped introduce Mikel to Hans, the bellman at our hotel in Bilbao.  As we were checking in, Mikel noticed that Hans was sitting and practicing card tricks.  He asked if Hans enjoyed magic tricks, and offered to show him some later.

Well, of course, that was all it took for Hans.  Mikel offered to take his break with Hans, and they met in the 1st floor salon to practice card tricks.  Hans knew some of the tricks Mikel showed him, and he learned a few others.  When you see him next, ask for a demonstration.  When we checked out, Hans wrote a note, in Spanish with help from Anders, thanking Mikel for teaching him magic tricks and admitting to him that his mother still couldn’t figure out how some of them were done.

So Basque card tricks with a French deck of cards that fool this American mother.


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