The next morning was Inti Rami, the Winter Solstice, and we met at the Plaza for breakfast. The crowds had already formed and were making there way to Sacsayhuamain where the sacred celebration would take place. Brando would not be going. He had gone many times before, he said, and he wasn’t interested. The whole show was like a Disney production put on for tourist, but he said we should go. “You have to see it once.” He wanted to hang around town and look up a woman he knew. My Spanish was poor, but I figured I’d get around alright. All we had to do was follow the crowd which was already streaming up the hill. The others in the group began to wander around the makeshift stalls looking at the wares that were everywhere for sale, llama wool weavings, musical instruments, silver jewelry, chicha. The smell of food cooking on brazier’s, the sound of local musicians playing the music of the land, the dull roar of the crowd all conspired to assault my western senses.
And then she was before me, the German girl from the day before. She was tall and wild looking with big eyes, a carnivore’s mouth. I smiled nervously. “Hello,” I offered and received a hello back. I asked her in English if she was going up the hill to the festival, and she told me her English was not good. I tried asking in Spanish. She laughed. I wasn’t sure what I had said. Somehow, though, through pantomime and a polyglot of desire we began to make ourselves understood. Yes, she was going, she said. Was I? I don’t remember much else but the way she looked standing there in the Plaza a seeming foot taller than the local crowd, her broad, clean face more familiar than the Incan faces all around us but foreign, too, alien in language and culture, more worldly than I. I asked if I might see her again and she said sure. We agreed to meet back in the Plaza at the Piccolo Café later that afternoon.
As she prepared to leave, she smiled and kissed me on the cheek, and just as she had the day before, she spun on her heels and was gone.