Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Our tiny Candelaria hotel room looked a little less crappy when we returned, hungry and exhausted, from Zipaquirá. Its ventilation-free scent was starting to smell a bit familiar, maybe even homey. After squabbling respectfully over custody of our shared iBook, we traipsed back up Senor Don Gato Hill to find dinner.
Bogota's La Candelaria is a colonial-era neighborhood, full of wrought iron, yellow cathedrals, and misaligned shutters. We were the little restaurant's only customers.
"What's the best place to sit?" C spoke to the waiter in Spanish.
The waiter, a university-age kid, gave us a "duh, obviously" look and waved his hand at the table in front of the open window. The shutter nearly scraped my head, but we had a ringside seat for the nighttime busking going on just outside in the square.
I'd been anxious about heading off for nine days with C. Due to a minor technicality, we'd known each other since autumn of 2002, but really, we'd only just met in Cairo last March. And running off to Maadi on a smoke detector expedition with Yasir wasn't exactly the same as 24/7 for nine days. I guess that's 24/9.
We'd had fun, and weren't at each other's throats. There had been a few tired moments, hungry moments, but we'd both known them for what they were. Had he noticed that when he got too quiet and tuned out, that I'd push hard to get him to talk? Poke, poke. Had I noticed that this had the exact opposite of its desired effect? Um... Had he noticed my laziness, how long I spend in the shower, that I put too much sugar in my coffee? Had I noticed his flaws? Of course not! And if I did, what makes you think I'd tell you? We'd had some laughs, and plenty of time of just pleasantly plodding along together.
Which is strange for me. I'm not much of an "us." I got it wrong a lot. I spend even more time worrying about getting it wrong, which makes me even trickier company. But C had been tolerant.
Colombia helped, of course. This country is at the top of its tourism game right now. Not a month ago, not next year. Now. It's just raw enough that not many foreigners are there yet. There's a lot less English spoken there than in other places I've been in Central and South America. Mountains, jungle, beach, history. Go. Now.
I opened my mouth to chatter nervously over dinner.
Then a band, well-meaning but not terribly adept, struck up a loud, unsynchronized tune some 20 feet away. Outside the open shutters, fire breathers and men on springs leapt high above the crowd. I smiled dopily. C looked at me quizzically and grinned. We sat in silence. There was nothing left to say.