Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Doctor, Ain't There Nothin' I Can Take?

Some people are born with attributes or qualities that make them more dateable or more attractive to the opposite sex. Perhaps they’re born with fine eyes, endearing dimples, kissable lips, or nice hands and feet. I was born with something that, above all other things, has attracted guys to me. That is known as U.S. citizenship.

On our trip to Peru we had a driver in Lima who took us from the airport to the hostel and back to the airport when it was time to go to Cusco. His name was Luis. He was such a nice guy. He carried all of our luggage for us, put it in the van, drove safely, and took us to see some sites to and from the airport. He was great. Our hostel arranged for this transportation, and by the time he dropped us at the Lima airport, dub and crew were lining up a time for him to meet them when they came back through Lima. They had quite a few hours of a layover in Lima on the way back. Luis was more than accommodating with their schedules.

I hadn’t been paying attention to their arrangements, and as he walked off, dub and I realized that he could do the same for me when I had my layover. We chased him down and planned for him to meet me.

Cusco was great. We did a little touristy stuff, a little humanitarian stuff, the whole Machu Picchu thing, etc. While we were there we went to a Catholic Cathedral and took a tour. The tour guide explained the significance of a lot of the art and architecture of the cathedral and connected chapels. It was quite interesting. We were particularly interested when she showed us a statue of Saint Anthony of Padua and explained that he was the patron saint of single people. Dub devised an experiment. Half of us could pray to God and half of us could pray to Saint Anthony of Padua and then we could see the results of the experiment. I picked God as if he were going to play on my elementary school capture the flag team. At least, that’s how it ended up sounding to me.

Sunday, the day for me to part from them, came too quickly. I was off to the airport already. The airline tried to keep me in Cusco another day, but I wouldn’t hear of it. Then my flight was an hour late. I kept poor Luis waiting for me at the airport, but when I picked up my luggage, there he was! And we were out of there. He gave me the option of sitting up next to him, which I would normally do, but I ended up opting for the back. I think I felt a teensy bit uncomfortable being by myself with him.

He explained to me that he had four hours that he could take me on a tour of the beautiful city, take me out to eat, and go to parks. I wasn’t really hungry or in the mood for hitting the town. To be honest, I just wanted to sit back and enjoy a ride with the view. Also, I have this very bad habit of not knowing my cards’ PINs, so I wasn’t able to get out more cash than I already had with me, which meant that I wouldn’t be able to afford the time he had been waiting for me, the four-hour tour, the airport tax, and the coconut gelato that I had been eyeing at the airport. We agreed to two hours. Plus, Harry Potter #5 was calling my name.

We took a road that we had traveled previously when we were in Lima. It went down by the beach. It was beautiful. They had a lighthouse in Miraflores (where we had stayed previously). It was by the water! Water! Can you believe that? A lighthouse adjacent to water!?! The sun was setting. The scene was picturesque. You’ll have to trust me on this one. I refused to drag out my camera to take pictures at this point on the trip.

Luis and I spoke of the country, politics, and the culture. He asked me about my family, and I asked him about his. I was surprised that this guy was single! I mean, he just seemed like a 40-something guy who probably had a family, but no. He was 36 and single. We even shared the same occupation (except I don’t drive vans in addition to my regular employment).

He asked me about my travel companions. He asked me why none of us were married. We talked about religion. The conversations were going well. We were good at communicating, even though my Spanish was more than rusty. When he would pause, searching for words, I was able to fill in the blanks with the word, and he would reply, “Exxxxactamente.” (Really, it was quite endearing.) He asked me what sort of things I look for in a potential mate. Then he talked about some of the customs of Lima and local hang-outs. He drove me to a few different parks in the area. There was a park of love that we stopped by. Here is a photo I found online of the place:

I didn’t get out of the van. In fact, I started to feel uncomfortable (this is sort of a lie because I had already been feeling a bit uncomfortable). Apparently, the park was where people went who wanted to have a romantic date. Some people even got married at the park. As he inquired more after my life in the states and about what qualities were important to me in a date, I decided to steer the discussion back into the realms of anything-but-dating-or-me. We touched some more on religion, politics, and culture.

I confess that there was a time when the thought crossed my mind that I was an absolute fool for coming with a strange Peruvian male on a tour of the city by myself. It was when we left the parks of love and the nice areas near the coast around Miraflores where I felt slightly oriented and drove into parts of town that looked kind of ghetto and otherwise closed in. And, I didn’t know where we were. Potentially scary experiences would pop into my mind, but I would shove them out and do some more nervous-talking.

But, Luis was very nice. He actually took me into the part of the city where many of the government buildings were. We went to Peru’s presidential mansion and other buildings around the area. We spoke of immigration to the U.S. and the state of the average tax-paying worker in Peru (and I thought our taxes were high!).

On the way back to the airport, we continued our discussion. It seemed that he was taking a detour or the long way around to the airport entrance. I was distracted because of that. All of a sudden, Luis was talking about coming to the U.S. to visit as my groom. What?!? My Spanish failed me. Did he say “groom?” I wasn’t sure because I hadn’t heard that particular word before used as groom. In fact, I can’t even tell you what it is right now, but it sounded a lot like groom to me. I stuttered and told him that I wasn’t quite sure that I had understood him. The airport was in view. We were almost there. He repeated and asked if it would be okay for him to come to visit me in the United Sates and come as my groom.

I am guessing that my eyes were either bulging or being really shifty at the time. I’m also thinking that my demeanor at that point was giving off some negatory vibes, and he quickly said that it was a joke.

Ha ha.

As we pulled into the small airport parking lot, he asked me if it would be okay if we parked and talked for a bit. Scenes of Back to the Future popped into my head.

Do you mind if we park for a while?

I was glad that I had chosen to sit in the back. He shifted around in his chair to look at me, and we probably talked a good 20 or 30 minutes longer. Rather, I mostly talked as he asked questions about religion. I was a lot more comfortable, in spite of that fact that he was staring at me. He was probably thinking that it was some sort of miracle that my Spanish was flowing so easily in this conversation. He was also very interested in what I was saying, and wanted a copy of The Book of Mormon. I told him that my sister probably had one for him. I also asked if I could send over some visitors to him, and he said yes. He told me that he would give dub his address when she came through in a few days (which ended up not happening because their flight was canceled).

We then parted ways after he walked me into the terminal. I was able to relax with some gelato – half dish coconut, half dish lime. Delicious!

And so it was that I had experienced a romantic Peruvian proposal of immigration, and so it was that God was proved to be the true God of single people and not Saint Anthony of Padua.


Anonymous said...

Holy cow Cardine - I'm rolling in my chair here at work, good thing it was you and not me - I'd have jumped out!! My family experienced the attractiveness of US citizenship in Russia - although there it was more the women coming on to my brothers! Too bad you didn't get to experience Mitchell's infatuation with Betty(or is it Brianna??)in the jungle!!
cheers!! roxanne

Cardine said...

Wow, Roxanne. You made it through the whole story! I was worried that it was painfully long and that people would give up on it.

Yeah, I heard about Betty's jungle lover. Gotta love traveling. I feel so pop-u-lar when I travel!

Framed said...

Great story. I was getting a little nervous there for a minute.

Dub said...

If you look up Saint Anthony of Padua in the Patron Saints Index at www.catholic-forum.com, he is shown as the patron saint for pregnant women, for seekers of lost objects, for starving people, and for many other things, but single people are definitely not on the list. Nor are they listed at any of the other websites I saw for Saint Anthony of Padua. I sort of get the feeling that the tour guide could see that we were single, so she told us the "patron saint of single people" story so that we would be amused and leave her a bigger tip. Has anyone else been praying to Saint Anthony for a boyfriend? You might as well stop now, 'cuz it's not gonna work. He's the wrong saint.

cash said...

I'm so glad you had some delicious gelato after that incident. Sounds like you needed it.

julie said...

Cardine, I love this story! I don't think it was JUST your US citizenship that appealed to him - you are way beautiful - what man wouldn't fall for you after hours of being in the same car discussing interesting topice?

Dub, I was thisclose to considering thinking about praying to St. Anthony's for a boyfriend...but I deemed it not worth my time. Glad you confirmed it in yet another way!

banana said...

This is the story I wanted to hear. You did a great job telling it.
It reminds me of so many experiences I had when I was in Argentina. In addition to proposals, I had mothers trying to set me up with their sons.

tearese said...

That was so scary! I would never have even arranged to ride in the care alone with anyone; you are definitely braver than I am.

Indy said...

It my very short travels out of the United States I have found that being a US citizen is very attractive to men too.