|Photo by Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos|
At the hotel there worked a grandmother who liked to talk to me. Whenever I went down to the lobby to use the wifi, she would just sit next to me and start talking to me in Spanish. It forced me to put my computer away and talk to her.
She asked me where I was from. I said the United States.
She asked "Why I had Chinito [Chinese] eyes then?"
"Because my parents were born in Korea. What's your name?"
She said, "Me? Isabel."
I said, "Isabel is a beautiful name. It was the name of a queen in Spain."
"Si, and she married Fernando."
"And Fernando was a weak king. Isabel was the most powerful queen of Spain. She sent Christopher Columbus."
"Yes, and he took over South America and stole our gold."
"I saw many pictures of Isabel in Madrid."
"You did now?"
"And what do you do for work?"
"Oh, I don't work."
"Because it's bad for my health."
"I see what you do. And that's bad for your health."
I felt my face turn red in embarrassment and busted out laughing.
She said, showing no teeth in her mouth: "Si, si, si."
After, she told me her husband had passed away five years ago from a heart attack. He also had lung cancer and smoked chronically.
"Well," I said, "I need to find you a new boyfriend then."
"No. I don't want to marry again."
"Who said anything about marriage? Just go and have some fun."
"I just work and read the Bible. That's enough for me."
"Look Madam, you're not a nun. You can have some fun."
"What would you like for a boyfriend? A Chinaman? A Native? A white man?"
"Oh, they're all good for me. But, I'm passed that age."
"No, you're not. You can sing and dance and go eat out with him."
"I can't dance. You see how old I am?"
"Oh, yes you can. When you fall in love again, you'll have a whole new body."
She starts to laugh then.
"I know someone just for you. He doesn't speak Spanish, though."
"That won't work. We need to be able to have a conversation."
"Oh, you can talk. He speaks the language of love."
"You American only think and talk about sex. We're not like that in Peru. We don't just have sex with people."
I started laughing and said, "I never said anything about sex. I said love. Love is not sex."
"No, no, no. I know you Americans. You like to seduce and just have sex. I know Americans."
* * *
The next day I'm on my computer Youtubing. She starts talking to me. I put my computer away again.
I ask her, "Do you know Rihanna?"
"Who's Rihanna?" she asks.
"A singer. She's black, but she's American too."
"I don't know her."
"Come on. Let's watch Rihanna together." So we watch the We Found Love music video of Rihanna on Youtube. In this video, Rihanna is in a bikini kissing a guy. I wonder if Granny is happy watching.
"Look how happy Rihanna is, because she found love."
Then the grandmother tells me another story. She says her husband owned a lot of land north of Chichlayo and some mafia people took it from them. I couldn't understand how all this happened.
I said, "You need to hire a lawyer."
"We did hire one. He charged a lot. And nothing happened."
Oh, I thought. Lawyers here are the same as they are back home. Charge a lot. And get nothing done.
"Then we gave up. They started threatening us and saying they'd kidnap us."
"Oh, how sad."
"It's ok. I have my children. I work. That's good enough."
* * *
I call my client the next day and tell him, "I found a Peruvian girlfriend for you. I think you'd like her very much."
My client tells me, "What the hell are you talking about, Paul?"
"There's this 70 year old lady I met at a hotel, who works here. She's very nice. And she even cooked me lunch one day, and she didn't have to do that. I think you'd like her a lot.
"But she wasn't too happy you don't speak Spanish. I told her you speak the language of love."
He started laughing.
"But she says that Peruvian ladies aren't into sex. So, she's going to be cautious with you."
"Don't give me that, Paul."
I start laughing and say, "You should consider it."
* * *
The next day she brought her two daughters to work and she tells them: "Here's the guy who wants to find me a new boyfriend."
The daughters both say: "No! She's not marrying again."
I said "Who said anything about marriage?"
Then, this grandmother goes on and tells me more stories about her and her family . . .