Sunday, December 28, 2008

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Here I am again. In Lima, Peru. I was last here in January, and I'm happy to report that nothing has changed, not even my hotel. I love this city -- much more than I expected to before my first visit. Interestingly, the other day I was talking to this guy who was explaining to me how he dislikes being outside of the big city. For instance, he continued, "I have no interest in going to Peru." Too bad. He doesn't know what he's missing. Not only is Machu Picchu the most incredible place I've ever seen in real life, but Lima is not exactly the countryside.

It's actually the desert (a fact that confounds me since it borders the Pacific Ocean, and I've always thought of deserts as being landlocked and completely water-free). It never rains here. I read somwhere that many people who live in Lima have never even owned an umbrella. Last night, I met this guy named Mirko who is half Peruvian and half Croatian (a good physical combination, by the way). This afternoon at lunch, I couldn't help myself and asked, "Have you ever seen the rain?" Gotta love Credence Clearwater Revival! He didn't get the joke, but he quickly informed me that, yes, he has seen the rain, having travelled outside of his home country on several occasions.

Tuesday I'm meeting my friend Jeffrey at the airport, and we are flying to Bogota, Colombia, for his birthday, which happens to be on New Year's Eve. He's already been there three times. It'll be my first trip there, but I have a good feeling about it, and not just because Jeffrey gives it two thumbs up. I've met several Colombians in Buenos Aires, and not only are they attractive people, but they are friendly and polished as well.

Case in point: On Christmas Eve, after having dinner with Hollie, Cara and Mariem (that's us in the above photo), I went with my friend Luciano to Heaven, my new favorite club in BA. There, a guy came up to me and told me that he lives in my building. "Really?" I asked. "I don't think so." He was cute, so how could I have missed him. He then proceeded to give me the address, crushing all my doubt. I cringed at the thought of how I must have looked when he had seen me in the building. Hopefully, it wasn't post- or pre-workout, when I'm never at my best. Or on the way to or from the supermercado across the street. I clean up pretty well, but unfortunately, I don't always bother to clean up before leaving my apartment.

Anyway, the guy was on his way out, so we didn't get to talk much. The next day, I kept thinking about him (the one who got away -- or rather, walked away), contemplating whether I should go down and slip a note under the door of 2C, his apartment. I decided to check my Manhunt account instead and see if I had any messages. Maybe he was on Manhunt and had found my profile and sent me a message. Surprise! That's exactly what he had done. We talked a bit, and I found out that he was half Lebanese (on his dad's side) and half Colombian (on his mom's side). He had even lived four years in Bogota. Ah, kismet! I said to myself. What are the chances? Not only did I have to go to a disco to meet a neighbor who had been living in my building for five months, but he was also from the very country I was going to be visiting in less than a week. A lesser coincidence: I had been invited to Heaven the previous night by a bigwig at Manhunt and was on the Manhunt guest list. (To Manhunt: Thanks for everything. All is forgiven.)

He invited me down to his apartment for a little vino. I was still preparing for my early flight to Lima the next morning, but when he told me that he was going to be moving out of the building on January 1 and into a cheaper apartment close by, I thought to myself, This might be my only chance (regular readers of this blog know that formal dates rarely go in my favor), and I might as well get on that plane tomorrow wearing a great big smile. We spent about an hour or so chatting about our lives and not drinking vino (I never imbibe on the night before travelling), and he wrote me a list of places to go to in Bogota. He complimented my Spanish several times, which earned him major brownie points. We hugged each other at the door twice before I left. Disappointed, I took the elevator upstairs to my apartment and found myself wishing and hoping that there'd be an IM waiting for me, inviting me back down for a goodnight kiss.

It must have been my lucky day! "Casi te doy un besito en la puerta," said the message from Abdala (his name) when I returned to my computer. "¿Debería volver a tu departamento para recibirlo?" I responded. ¡Claro! Should I stay or should I go? I asked myself. I think we all know how -- and where -- this story ends.
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