I wanted a book to read my last week in Ollantay, looking at the volunteer book exchange shelf I chose “The Lucky One” by Nicholas Sparks. Although I really disliked the movie version of “The Notebook” this novel seemed interested to me so I decided to give it a shot. For those of you that don’t know anything about her is a brief synopsis. A soldier, while in Iraq finds a picture of a girl. After he returns from the war he decides to find this girl. I don’t need to tell you the rest. If it interests you, read it, otherwise this is enough information for you to have to get through my story, where life imitates art.
Sunday morning, the second day of the Senor de Choquekillka festival in Ollantay and after the power hour I placed a mask on my face and walked focused towards the plaza. Passing the taxi touts I was stopped by a young man just getting out of a taxi.
“Wait! Stop!” He demanded. Then added shyly, “Can I take your picture.” All in Spanish.
“Sure.” I said laughing.
Pulling out a blackberry he was about to snap a picture when I shriek. “Is that a blackberry?” I moved my hand forward and caressed it lightly. I was like an addict in withdrawal. he pulled it back slowly starring at me like I was nuts. “Yup, it’s a blackberry.” He said. Then snapped the picture and I skipped off to the plaza to the catch up with the others.
The festivities went on, dancing, singing, shouting, whipping, drinking, eating and flirting.
Until the last day when this guy came up to me and started to dance with me. We danced, smiled, laughed, chatted and then he said, “You are the girl in the mask.”
It wasn’t so much a question as a statement. “What?” I said.
“Do you remember me?” he asked a little hesitant.
I cringed my face and shrugged.
“I took your picture near the market and taxis.” He said, probing my memory.
I shrugged again, offering, “Maybe it was another girl.” I didn’t remember, then it dawned on me and I shouted, laughing, “You had the blackberry!”.
“Yeah! That’s right.” He acknowledge visibly relieved.
We continued to dance as we tried to explain himself. “I’m from Lima. I was in Cuzco with friends on the weekend and they said since I had never been to the festival I had to go. So we came last weekend and you were the first masked person I saw, and I took your picture. The girl in the mask and pants. “
He was talking a mile and minute, trying to get all the details out, until he said “the girl in the mask and pants” where he slowed down and said the worried quietly and looked all dreamy.
He continued, “I went back to Cuzco with my friends. But I kept looking at this picture of the girl in the mask and pants. I realized I couldn’t get her, you, out of mind. Since this was the last day of the festival I came back to find the girl in the mask. And it’s you.” He smiled.
“Yup, it’s me.” In my limited Spanish what else could I say. I know you are all thinking stalker. But I didn’t get that feeling. I just thought he was a pretty delusional romantic. Plus I Just kept thinking of the book I was currently readying and how utterly coincidental the parallels were. I mean really what were the odds. Of all the books in the book exchange for me to pick, I chose that one and then for someone to take my picture and based on that try and find me. Me, in a hideous mask. Why would you want to find a girl in this awful mask? Granted whenever he said girl in the mask he also added and pants, so maybe the Shakira hips is what got him. Whatever it was this dude was smitten. As I bounced from one corner of the plaza to the other, not to mention the stage, dancing with everyone he managed always to find me. I guess that’s what stalkers do. Bringing me chocolate or water, clearing knowing I was past my drink limit. While other guys just kept getting me drinks.
In the end I lost him that night in one of my mad dashes to the dance floor, but not before giving him my email. I figured, what’s the harm. I have an 8 hour layover in Lima. I could do dinner with the guy. No harm, right?