This one’s serious.
It was our last night together in Lima and our last night traveling together outside of the US. Kenny and I finished up a food binge and were walking through one of the parks in Miraflores (perhaps with the ulterior motive of finding marijuana) when we saw and heard a man and a woman on a bench beckoning to us. We walked over, and both of them excitedly asked us if we were “Hindi.” (After being mistaken for Israelis all over Argentina, this was welcome). They told us they loved music, and that they loved Indian music.
Pedro and Ana introduced themselves. Pedro — about 5’8″, paunch belly, wearing capri-like pants. Ana — a little shorter, jeans, t-shirt. Both had weathered faces and laughed a lot. They invited us for a drink at a nearby bar.
We were hesitant, pussy travelers, but we went along. I stumbled with my Spanglish when we came to a little hole in the wall bar (I don’t know if it’s even fair to call it a bar). Pedro was friends with the owner/family — a small, squat woman who brought us 40s. We sat on the second floor and some salsa videos were playing on the TV. We giggled and talked and laughed, drank many beers. They told us about Peru, about Peruvian women, about having fun, drugs, life, music, faith.
We noticed the way Pedro and Ana talked. A little jittery. A little crazy. We noticed them sneaking off to the bathroom one at a time, and coming back with renewed energy and optimism. They seemed sad but hid it beneath this veneer of gaiety. Ana brought out a joint for us. “For the cute Indian travelers!” she said. It was shitty, welcome weed. Ana kept telling us to be happy, to pick up some Peruvian girls. We all were getting progressively more drunk.
Ana told us that Pedro was doing cocaine in the bathroom. That he did a lot of cocaine. Pedro told us he was a professional musician. He gave us his CD. Ana taught us to salsa dance — we were awkward ostriches, they made fun of us.
Ana broke down crying, and pressed into our hands some twined necklaces and beads. “Charms from the sun,” she said. She said she didn’t have long to live, that she was suffering. Pedro was talking, and talking, and laughing, and disappearing to the bathroom.
I paid for all of our beers. We walked down the street while Kenny comforted Ana. I was really drunk, and I didn’t know how to feel. I kept it inside. They found us a cab back to Guadalupe’s hostel (Kenny had a flight to catch in a few hours). I still don’t know how to feel.