Sitting in D’Kaffe on the Avenida Prando, drinking cafe latte and agua con gas. I’m writing and taking some time for myself before it gets dark and I turn into a pumpkin who has to take a taxi anywhere.
I sneeze. At the next table there is a rotating crowd of men, anchored by two guys who are playing with gadgets–a phone, a watch, a camera.
One says “Salud,” when I sneeze and then in Spanish asks if I like his spandex sleeve that is printed like a tattoo sleeve. I can’t remember the word, so I say in English that it’s weird and they laugh and forget about me. They leave.
I’m writing about the morning’s trip to see Inca ruins and reconstructed grain silos. Because the site is out in the country and the tourist center is under construction, I have go to the bathroom behind some scrub, which is treacherous because it all seems to have thorns.
Then two return and my friend with the fake tattoo sleeves says something, and the only part I understand is “novio.”
“A letter to your boyfriend?” his friend translates. They move from their table to the couches and the first produces a stack of more spandex tattoo sleeves to show to someone else. They’re drinking Jack and diet cokes.
I wish I hadn’t quit studying Spanish when I was 16.