5. Coin Toss

I stabbed my index finger onto the dot of Pochutla on the map. “We go north on the Pacific Coast Highway,” I traced our route. “Look. To Puerto Escondido; there’s a trailer park.”

“Puerto Escondido? The surfer-dude hang-out?” Sam banged his beer bottle onto the scarred tabletop in the tiny restaurant tucked into the center of Pochutla where we’d stopped to rest. “We’re going to Huatulco—to Club Med.”

“Sorry, Sam, everyone else is going to Puerto Escondido.” Everyone meant a couple of the other students from our language school. “Anyway, you agreed to meet William tomorrow night for the World Series. There’s a bar with satellite TV.”

“That must have been the tequila talking. God, I hate baseball. You want to see your new boyfriend from the Instituto.”

My stomach clenched in irritation. I resented myself for being so transparent. It was true. William, a classmate from my language school, was handsome, witty—new, and we were attracted to each other. But old Sam was there.I bit back a rejoinder. What purpose would it serve? Instead, I pulled a 1000 peso coin out of my pocket.

“I’ll tell you what—I’ll flip you: Quetzalcoatl says we go north and the eagle with the snake points to Huatulco. You toss.”

I shot the coin across the table. Moisture from the storm hung heavy in the hot coastal air, and I was anxious to get going; anxious to let the rush of air through my open window cool me and drown out Sam’s tiresome accusations. I’d heard enough of his entreaties and his wallowing jealousy. What had I been thinking when I agreed to spend the next ten days traveling with him? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

He flipped the peso into the air and it bounced back to the table clanking dully.

Quetzalcoatl—I won—we’d go north to Puerto Escondido.

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