A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random global adventures,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

the mysterious "belgian" woman

i have gotten permission from the bolshevik to publish my version of this story first, even though he had "called it."  hopefully he will write his soon so that we can all compare ...

back when we were in lima: 
one night we were rather tired after a long day of sightseeing and eating peruvian deliciousness, so we wound up coming back to our hostal on the early side.  to get to our room we had to go all the way to the roof garden, and then take another set of stairs to the top floor.  at the roof garden level there was a woman smoking cigarettes sort of in the shadows.  she greeted us in spanish, and then we went on our way.

for some reason the bolshevik needed to go back down to get something, and when he returned he said that the woman had invited him (and by default, me) to a reggae show because she was traveling by herself and didn't want to go out alone at night.
obviously the first thing i thought was
1.  what a wuss
then 2.  why is this woman mackin' on my man?

but the bolshevik assured me that he made it quite clear that he had a girlfriend, that girlfriend being me.  it is important to note that one of the reasons the bolshevik was eager to go to the show, was that he had learned that this woman was from cusco, and since we would be in cusco the following week, it would be advantageous for us to talk to her (this ties back in later)  so after some prodding and some gussying up, i agreed to go to the show.

but when we returned to the roofgarden the woman was nowhere to be found.  of course, i used this opportunity to taunt the bolshevik mercilessly.  it went something like this.

me:  so where is your mysterious belgian woman?  huh?  huh?
bolshevik: she's from sweden.  and she's not mysterious.  you saw her twenty minutes ago.
me:  yeah right, like she really exists.

we waited around awhile, wondering if the mysterious "belgian" woman would return.  then we decided to go to the lobby to buy a bottle of water, and lo and behold the mysterious "belgian" woman was chatting up the guy at the front desk.

so then off the three of us went like peas in a pod.  now, i quickly decided that i did not care for this belgian woman.  she had that kind of flowy hippie dippie free spirit child-of-the-earth thing going for her that i do not relate to, nor do i particularly care for.

as we walked through the plaza the bolshevik asked her what she does in cusco.  "oh i owned a shop," she said.  "but i left that behind."  hmmm, red flag number one.

when we got to the bar, we found out that there was no reggae show.  in fact, we were the only three people there.  so we decided to get drinks and sit out on the balcony.  no big deal.  i figured we could excuse ourselves after a round or two and then be done with this woman.

the bolshevik had some trouble communicating with the bartender so then the "belgian" woman and i were left on our own.  not knowing what to say, i asked her about her shop.
"oh i make jewelry," she said, "and clothes and other things."
she pulled out some silver jewelry she had made, which was nice, and showed me some other trinkets that she crafts.
"i sold these in my shop.  well, now it is my husband's shop.  i mean, my ex-husband."
"you won't be working in the shop when you go back?" i asked.
"i'm not going back to cusco," she said.  "i left it all behind."  and she made some sort of airy motion with her hand like this was a very breezy decision.  red flag number two.

the bolshevik returned while she was giving me a business card for the shop that is now run by her seemingly very recent ex-husband.  of course, he didn't hear the part about the leaving it all behind.

while talking, she wrote down several places for us to check our while we are in cusco.  each time accentuating her advice with comments about how much she dislikes lima, and how dirty lima is, and how lima is so boring, and lima is dangerous, etc.  hmmm, odd ... then why did she come here?

the bolshevik eventually asked her when she was going back to cusco, and she reiterated that she is not going back.  in fact, she has no idea where she will go after lima.  red flag 2.5?

around this time, i began to notice that the mysterious "belgian" woman had a tendency of laughing after every few sentences.  whether or not this was a nervous tick,  a linguistic/cultural difference, or more likely a symptom of mental instability. i was not sure.  red flag number 3.

as we walked back to our hotel the mysterious "belgian" woman asked if we smoked pot.  now, i won't lie to you blog readers, back in the day i used to partake quite a bit.  but NO MORE!  luckily the bolshevik was quick enough to say something about not liking to do illegal things in foreign countries.  good save, bolshevik!

- let me interrupt the story for a moment to tell you that right outside of lima is a tall mountain with little houses all along the side.  from the look of it, i would assume the houses are rather meager and the people who live in them rather poor.  back to the story -

the mysterious "belgian" woman began to tell us that lima is so dangerous and such a terrible city and it isn't safe to go anywhere.  she explained that she and some friends had gone up the mountain to the little shacks in order to buy marijuana, and then after they purchased some marijuana they were stopped by a scary man with a gun who was shouting about them being "on his turf."  but after giving him some of their newly purchased pot, he let them go.  thus concluded her story of how dangerous lima is.  red flag number 4.

i don't want to sound prudish, as i do believe that marijuana should be legalized, but i think it is unfair to say that a place is dangerous, if you knowingly and purposefully go looking to buy drugs (typically sold by drug dealers) and are then upset that the criminal activity you are partaking in is happening in a "bad neighborhood." aren't you guilty of making the neighborhood bad?  would it have been a bad neighborhood had you not been consorting with drug dealers? i'm just saying.

anyway, eventually we made it back to our room. alone.  not knowing what the bolshevik was thinking about this whole encounter, i tried to keep it light.

"she was odd, no?"  i said.
"odd?" the bolshevik replied, "she was totally crazy."


so i then told the bolshevik the story of how this woman had confided in me that she had left her husband and her store and her whole life behind.  now let me tell you, the bolshevik usually does not enjoy gossip, much to my dismay.  usually, when i have a good piece of gossip, he isn't the least bit interested.  but he was really into this.  suddenly we were discussing potential reasons for her sudden departure, wondering who in the relationship was to blame.  then, we realized that when we get to cusco we can actually go to this shop and meet this guy!  obviously, we will not mention the mysterious belgian woman, but we can sniff around for clues.  maybe we can even ask some leading questions like "who made all these trinkets?"   i am curious to see if he is visably distraught, or if there are any signs that he may have be abusive.  the bolshevik thinks he is a wife beater.  not a tank top, but a violent spouse.  i personally think she is to blame, being a flighty flake type person.  only time will tell.

. . . to be continued in cusco


  1. What a great story, and the wife-beater line was hysterical.

  2. glad you enjoyed it! the follow-up story has just been posted.

    miss dewey d

  3. I'm glad I read this before the follow-up. I'm on the edge of my seat! And I almost fell off from the wife-beater line.