i entered the shop and it was more or less what i thought it would be: silver jewelry with large stones, flowy shapeless hippie dresses, incense, bongo drums, you know the drill. i began looking around all inconspicuous-like, and the handsome peruvian behind the counter said, "anything you like you can try on: jewely, clothes. you try whatever you like." then he hopped off his stool with a little swagger and said "you can try me if you like."
yeah, this is our guy.
i politely thanked him and told him i was just looking around. as i perused the store's wares i realized i had no game plan. nada. and really, at the end of the day i am the kind of person who loathes talking to strangers. i do not start up conversations with people i don't know. i do not ask people questions about themselves unless it is part of social banter at a bar or party. i believe i have inherited this from my mother, who throughout my life has refused to befriend any of her neighbors.
anyway. i was about to leave this shop with my tail between my legs, having not found out any useful information for you, my beloved blog readers. but then as i was walking out the door, the young peruvian asked me my name. now, i hate telling strangers my name. maybe Stranger Danger sunk in all too well with me, but i feel like if you tell someone your name, then suddenly they're going to scam you. but then i remembered the task at hand.
i told him my name and he jumped up from his stool and hugged me, giving me a peck on the cheek. well, i didn't see that one coming.
mucho gusto! he said, and then he told me his name is marco (names have been changed to protect the innocent). he asked me where i am from, and i fought every unfriendly bone in my body and told him i'm from new york. then he jumped up again. "i love new york!" he said, and gave me another hug. "i love the movies!"
so we had a little chat about new york. it turns out he has never been, but he loves the tall buildings he's seen in films. then he asked me if i'd like to have a cup of tea. he pointed to the counter where there are mugs and tea bags and such. "it's on me," he said. "sit and have some tea."
again, it is against my every instinct to have tea with him, but then i remembered i am a super sleuth travel writer now, and i must do this for the greater good.
i asked him if he had coca tea, which i have grown quite fond of, and he proudly showed me that he makes his coca tea with real coca leaves, and not with teabags.
soon enough we were drinking our tea and having a nice little chat. he asked me if i had a boyfriend, and i explained yes i do in fact have a boyfriend, but he is not with me today. then marco said that he is an "iron man" and that if i were to switch over to him, i would be much better off. i thanked him, but stood firm that i was sticking with the bolshevik.
then he began to tell me about an ex-girlfriend of his. of course, i was reeling at this point. here i was having tea with the ex-husband of the mysterious "belgian" woman and he was about to give up all sorts of information.
marco: i have this girlfriend. no. how do you say you have, but no more?
marco: si, had. i had a girlfriend once from .... oh what was the name ... cincinnati
me: [damned!] oh really? do you only like american girls?
marco: no, i date all women! i do not care where they are from, or if they have blonde hair and blue eyes. i like them for their minds and who they are.
me: [starting to think this guy isn't so bad] what happened with her?
marco: well, she went back to the US and she called me only once. she said she would call me every day. but she never called again.
he went on to explain that she was a medical student and that she told him she was too busy to call him. then he said that he saw a picture of her in her medical lab coat on facebook and he wondered, "how come she has time to download pictures, but not call me?" he said, "now, i do not trust girls who live far away. i don't believe what you say if you live far away. but if you are here with me, then i trust you."
awwww. poor marco.
then i asked him where he was from, thinking that i didn't want to dwell on the hearbreak of cincinnati girl. "i am a child of the universe!" he exclaimed. and suddenly i could really see him and the mysterious "belgian" woman hitting it off.
"but really," he said, "i am from lima. i have been in cusco for two years."
marco then told me how when he lived in lima, he worked at the mcdonald's in miraflores as a deliveryman. i found this very interesting, and i explained to him that in the US mcdonalds doesn't deliver. he was quite taken aback by that. he told me that he had a little motorcycle with a mcdonalds basket in front and he would ride around the city doing deliveries, and then he would take breaks by the beach and smoke joints.
then we went on to discuss cusco, and i said i thought it was very beautiful. he agreed and said, "cusco has taught me many great things. i have met great people. and learned how to be a great person."
wow. at this point i was starting to think that maybe this wasn't the guy. because, eccentricities aside, he was actually turning out to be a pretty decent stand-up guy.
i asked him if he owned the shop, and he said no, he only worked there. around this time some other customers came in and they began speaking in spanish. now, eavesdropping in spanish isn't easy but i didn't my best.
the two people came in and told marco that they were from sweden. now this raised a bit of a flag because the "belgian" woman is from sweden. then marco pointed to a large merchant's license mounted on the wall and said the wife of the shop owner was from sweden. aha!
i took a good look at the picture on the license. the man pictured was a large tough-looking rastafarian guy. hmmm, not what i had expected for the "belgian" woman's husband.
after the swedes left, i asked marco where the shop owner was. "oh, he's probably home smoking joints," he said. nice.
marco told me how much he loves working in a shop and talking with people. i concurred that he is very friendly, and it had been lovely chatting with him. then, seeing that there was no more investigating to be done, and feeling that i did not want to take up any more of marco's time, i decided to head out. marco hugged me a third time, and asked me to please stop in again before i left.
so what have we learned about the mysterious "belgian" woman? absolutely nothing.