What the @$!# is this?

Here I am, my yellow apartment, my bright yellow apartment, and I’m looking at pages, so many pages that somewhere else a tract of rainforest has disappeared. It’s early in the morning and the room is still cool from the night before.
The lesson will go through the afternoon and into the dusk, when La Brisa Loca starts sweeping down from the mountains and the sun drops below the roofs and terraces.
I’m tired.
Times in the night we heard the little cockroach living in the bathroom and every time I went to kill it with my eyes like cracked stone plates, the little mother would vanish like it had no substance.
The room is still cool from the air conditioning last night. We were offered air conditioning the day we moved in and we said
Pfft, we don’t need it
And two nights later we had it.
I was supposed to go out today and with the sun overhead take pictures of the plazas with benches and trees, the narrow streets, the bright corridors of the streets, the little carts of fruit.
Maybe tomorrow.
It’s beginning to get warm. I think I’ll take a shower.
I look down at the piece of paper in my hand.
What the @$!# is this?
We were only going to do two weeks of school in Venezuela and now we have had three weeks and three weeks isn’t enough.
There is paper everywhere and people are walking past the window.
I go to a café sometimes to do my homework. There is one I like. An old colonial house will tall ceilings and windows and quiet rooms where I can usually get much done. A few days ago, I chose a different seat because I was afraid the girls would laugh at me choosing the same seat always. I chose one in the main room, where there was nobody else. It stayed that way for as many as three minutes, but then a cameraman walked in. He took some photos, asked if I minded being in them, then started setting up for an interview with the owners at the table next to me.
The camera was working and there was a girl with a microphone and there I was sat in the middle of it all, shitting myself that they were going to get me involved.
The aesthetic pleasure of the shower has been lost already in the still hot air, and so I just sit in the heat and the pressure on the stained seat of my shorts trying to remember things.
I keep waiting for it take with me.
In the beginning, I would prepare for each lesson like an exam, when there was a storm in my head that couldn’t be heard, silent lightening flaring against geology that was not stone but fear, fear that I wouldn’t learn.
I remember that day in Bogotá, in Juan Valdez café.
The place was jam-packed and there was hella background noise. I approached the counter and ordered my drink.
You want vanilla or caramel?
Vanilla or caramel?
I asked for a medium latte, I thought, just give me that. I simply could see no reason to ask me anything else. I only smiled and my head made some strange involuntary movements and I sidled down to the till. The girl behind it opened her mouth. Here it comes, I thought. The words came at me like a flock of crazy pigeons.
Time slowed down, in the same manner that one can dream for hours or days in the ten minutes since hitting the snooze button. The whole of Bogotá was behind me. I was frozen.
She took my money, disgusted that anyone could be so ignorant. I wanted to kill myself. I couldn’t order a coffee.
Outside I can hear the dull clop of hooves in the street.
Oh well, I have to go to Éxito soon to buy dinner. Where other than rubbish food and despair nothing is. I only have two hours left before my lesson which is cutting it close.
We waited thirty minutes the other day to pay. We had joined what we figured was the shortest queue, which was still like the queue for a rollercoaster. The girl behind the till was bored and uninterested. She chewed her gum, her little jaw going round and round, and put things through with a slow old man’s hand and chatted at length to everybody who made it to the till.
Said the voice in my head.
It was so slow
Time went and went and went. I looked about and everybody impatient and motionless with the same grim faces and we were almost there!
But then she had to call her supervisor over.
I’m certain I saw her look up at me then and wink.
ARRRRGHHHH, went the voice in my head…
But it wasn’t just this one time, it is all the time. I have never known anything like it.
I will have to go soon.
Not yet.
I put myself flat on the bed.
I work.


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