“Hola. Hallo! Do you want a drink?” a pale, soft-looking man with black hair greeted me in heavily accented English. One of the orange combi neighbors.
I smiled and walked over to introduce myself. “Hi, yo soy Ana,” I said as I extended my hand.
“My name is Gerardo from the north of Mexico Ceety,” he replied pumping my hand a bit longer than necessary and breathing what I took to be the exhaust of a tequila distillery.
Did everyone in Puerto, Escondido speak English? Gerardo appeared to be thirty- five, or slightly older. It was hard to tell because, up close, he had that worn look of an alcoholic. After a minute or two of polite small talk in a combination of my broken Spanish and his slurred English, I declined his offer of a cocktail and made an excuse to leave.
As I turned to go, the door of the orange combi slid open and a slender man of medium-build with light brown hair curling into ringlets onto his forehead and neck stepped out. He wore an ancient pair of flowered Hawaiian Baggies with dress tassel loafers. Dazzled by his golden aura, my feet rooted into the sand, and I melted into jelly knees and rubber elbows with a wildly beating heart. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He looked young, sleepy-eyed and innocent, but something in his manner said he was older. He sauntered over to me and took my hand. Summer flowed through him and the world tilted in its axis.
“Fernando Leon, a sus órdenes.”
He introduced himself, his smile lighting up his sea blue eyes.
A mantra: Fernando. Fernando Leon. Fernando of the orange combi, from the north of Mexico City. I was holding his hand, gazing into the vast Pacific of his eyes when I heard myself inviting him out for the evening, drawing him toward the esplanade. “Voy a encontrar unos amigos en el club de salsa anoche. No quires venir? Te gusto bailar?”
Then I remembered Sam, sick in my bus.
“¡Espérame, espérame!” I ran to my bus and leaned in to tell Sam I was off to the video bar to meet with William and Katherine and surreptitiously slipped condom into my tiny black suede shoulder bag along with a fistful of pesos and my lipstick.
With a final, goodbye, I skipped off across Las Palmas my excitement a cloud of sparkling particulate whirling around me.