Thursday, June 30, 2011

He Must Be Referring to My Child-Bearing Hips

I'm getting a surprising amount of action here in Peru.

First, as I told you before, there was the fellow who fell into my lap on the train.

Then a stranger got a little friendly with me last night. We were riding from Ollantaytambo back to Cuzco in a collectivo (a real one this time, not just some guy's car, an actual van packed full of people!) and it was my turn to sit in the middle and watch the protective saints swing from the rear-view mirror. Jason was on my left enjoying the view of the stars out his window while listening to opera on his iPod and there were two older Peruvian men on my right, one next to me and one sitting on the ledge behind the front passenger seat facing out the side door. I was totally engrossed in listening to an episode of The Tobolowsky Files and enjoying the thoughtful peacefulness when I suddenly felt a hand on my thigh.

The fellow riding backwards had leaned in to talk to his friend sitting next to me. He had put his hand on his friend's leg to keep his balance while they talked, except he missed and was accidentally grasping my leg instead. I think it was an accident, at least. It was really dark after all.

He sat back after a minute and I had just started to relax again when I felt an arm against my leg and a head on my shoulder. The friend to the right kept dozing off through the rest of the ride and he slumped further and further against me each time his head nodded forward.

To top all of this off, Jason and I were standing in Plaza de Armas this morning consulting a guidebook for suggestions for breakfast. A salesman approached, as they always do there, offering to sell us Alpaca sweaters.

"No, gracias," we both said, and proceeded to ignore him. That usually works, but this fellow was not going to leave us yet.

"Where you from?" he asked.

"The United States," Jason replied, keeping his eyes on the guidebook so as to not engage further.

The guy turned to me and looked me up and down. "You are strong, very strong," he said, clenching his fist in illustration.

We both looked up from the guidebook at that one.

The guy sidled up to me and indicated Jason. "Your husband?"

"No," I said.

"Ah!" he said, raising an eyebrow at me. "That's good. You strong." He indicated the two of us, "Amigos?"

"Si," Jason replied.

The guy turned to me. "Amigos?" he said in a different tone.

"Si, si," I said, assuming he wanted me to confirm what Jason had said. I was confused then when the guy broke into an even bigger smile, said something in Spanish to Jason, and insisted on shaking both of our hands. He then tried again to sell us the sweaters again, rubbing the wool against his cheek and then aiming for mine. We broke away at that, barely containing our laughter as we crossed the Plaza.

"You realize what he meant by 'amigos,' right?" Jason asked.

"Friends?" I asked.

"Maybe the first time. But the second time he said 'amigos' with a suggestive intonation, in quotation marks, and you confirmed it. He thinks we're engaged or something!"

Which is probably a good thing for me, I pointed out, since he seemed to be sizing me up for himself.

Besides, who wouldn't want a good strong woman like me?

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