Archive | January, 2014

My Last Night in South America

25 Jan

When I arrived in Montevideo, I walked into an inescapable heat that covered the entire city.  It was close to midnight when I hailed the cab that took me to the Will Fogg hostel.  A kind man greeted me and told me that I had arrived just in time!

“In time for what?” I asked.

“For the BBQ,” he said, “I can’t believe how perfect your timing is!”

“Thank goodness!” I said,  “I’m starving.”

“Take your time,” he reassured.  “This is Uruguay, there is no hurry.”

I dumped my bag in my room and quickly put on jean shorts and a white, woven tank-top.  I threw on some make-up to cover up my utter exhaustion after two nights without any real sleep and made my way to the large terrace that wrapped around the hostel.

Chorizo, steak and beef lay on the open flame, and people snacked on cubed, cheddar cheese and salami.  The tables were covered with every kind of alcohol that one could desire, as well as a special mixture of Uruguayan wine, champagne and something else that seemed like a guaranteed headache.

I didn’t drink my last night in South America, though I was constantly encouraged to.  The hostel was full of young men who stared and fluttered about, while they reigned in their courage to come talk to me.  I was told that I was, “the most beautiful woman in all of South America,” and I laughed because I was the only single, female at this particular party.

For a long while ,I chatted with an attractive blonde, Belgium (the only other female) who had fallen in love with a Uruguayan and was working in the hostel.

She told me her love story, and I told her about my Buenos Aires romance, though I could see she was too young and naive in the ways of the world to understand how a temporary romance could be worth it; could be just as beautiful and important as love.

“You don’t seem sad that you just said goodbye to him,” she said, and I told her it was because I wasn’t sad.  I was grateful.

I wanted her to understand that one can’t be sad in such a state of beauty and constant change; that the heat burned away everything; that the sweet moments we had together were deeply healing; that to feel such a coming together isn’t something one should ever weep over.

Though I left all these things unsaid and took a moment to look up at the full moon and mull over my ridiculous, lingering regrets.

“Of course there are regrets,” I thought to myself.  “The apartment with pool we didn’t get, the lack of dancing, the extra cups of wine and exhaustion,” but I knew it was the fleeting time; that the regrets were there because time wasn’t endless; because I wasn’t completely free.

“But this is how life is,” I thought.  “A limiting hourglass with grains of sand falling from top to bottom,” and I saw myself on top of a mountain of sand, at the bottom of my glass, begging for more, scrambling not to be buried beneath the last falling moments of my goodbye.

And the Uruguayan moon shone with arrogance, full as it ever was.  I stared at it on the terrace until five in the morning, stretching myself out on the overturned bed with the thin cushion that served as couch.

Behind me, on a lounge chair, lay the gorgeous, dark, 20-year-old Parisian who had tried to kiss me earlier.  He was pretending to read in the dark and eventually fell asleep.

When he had corned me, I turned away and told him, “I can’t kiss everyone.”

“What does that mean?” he demanded, and I choose not to explain.  For how does one tell a stranger that there was another; that I cannot just give myself to anyone who wants me.

Alone, I stared at the moon, and gathered up my bags as the sun was rising.  Out the window of my cab, I tried to soak in the small, proud and quiet city, for I knew it was my last and only look.

And I wished that my flight was leaving Monday, and I wished that I had danced with the boy who I said goodbye to the day before, and I wished  that I didn’t wish anything because then I wouldn’t have met the wonderful people who made my last night in South America so special – who admired my courage to set off on my own.

Who told me that I should be proud of myself, who stood on the steps in front of the hostel and waved goodbye, who shouted again and again, “Buen Viaje!”