I look on, along with a friend from Portland, as the three fellers totally rip the space apart. They're quite sassy, and it's clear by the music they've chosen that this is no accident. I'm surprised at the control they have over the direction their hips move in relation to the rest of their body. It's not something I've ever been able to do, nor would I really feel the need to if indeed was able. Their facial expressions are provocative. They've decided to use water bottles as stand-ins for microphones.
We, I along with my friend from Portland, ask the fellers if they plan on performing their baile in public at some point. The expected answer is that which they offer, which is that they will indeed be performing, and that very night as was our luck. They're to begin promptly (which means little in Ecuador) at one in the morning, at a discoteca called Manú. We'll be there, we say.
Hours later, as we sit drinking a bottle of aguardiente, another fella who's family was in town for the weekend from Guayaquil decides he'd like to accompany the two of us. His name is Antonio. The dueña of the Hostel has told Portland where the discoteca is. It's across the Rio Tomebamba (a place whose mention almost caused my teacher to gasp as I told her this very story. Evidently, it's robberville, and she said she wouldn't even go that way after dark. Whoops.)
We walk from about midnight til 1 in the morning, getting directions from security guards, bartenders, passersby. It's clear that nobody knows where the bar is. I know this not because anyone has said, "I don't know," but rather because they have all given different directions. I think it's the national game - one person tries to catch another person admitting that they don't know a place, and the other does their damnedest to be definitive about the information they offer. It's one of those games wherein everyone loses.
By now, Portland and I have given up on the chance that we'll see Christian and his homies perform. We're now more interested in finding a place on our side of the river to have a beer and a seat. Antonio, however, is intent on finding this bar. I decide to shut myself up with a small bottle of rum. That'll keep me from whining. As we're walking in the bar zone, I notice that no one is actually in the bar. Rather, the streets are filled with little pockets of 6-8 people, all of whom are drinking aguardiente out of little plastic cups. Incidentally, there weren't cups for everyone. Instead, the little cup would be passed amongst the drinkers, one at a time. Good stuff.
As we walked through the throngs of aguardientistas - most of whom make screw faces at gringos - our friend Antonio saw a buddy of his. In the buddy's group were a few kids from the school that I'm attending, and we thenceforth were one group, united. Having missed out on the initial reason for going out, we were faced with a two options. One, we could make the short walk back to the hostel and get out before things got drastic. Two, we could join our new friends in whatever hairbrained schemes they had planned for the evening.
We chose to take part. We piled into the vehicle of one of the gentlemen. Of course, as we were doing so, we noticed a guy break a bottle and try to stab another guy with it. In the car, we get word of a serenade that will occur shortly at the home of a girlfriend of one of our new comrades. As we drive (across the river, where my teacher said never to go), a feller in the front seat practices his guitar and sings. Before we know it, we (a caravan of 3 cars totaling about 18 people) have arrived at said house.
Standing outside, my small bottle of liquor in my hand, I notice that some fellers are writing "Te Amo" in the street with what appears to be sawdust. Another feller follows this by carefully dousing the sawdust with a clear liquid, which I assume to be gasoline or something flammable. The dudes approach the door, ring the bell, light the words, and sing about three songs for the young dame who, naturally, is dressed in her jammies. From what I could tell, she seemed quite surprised, which is not to say that she was particularly thrilled with the flaming street which her balcony overlooked. All in all, I'd say it was successful.
Capitalizing on the relative success (at least she was home) of the first session, we decide fairly undemocratically, actually, to go to the house of another girlfriend whose man was one of the fellers with our group. This one didn't turn out too well. Nothing happened. No windows. No door. No lights. Nothing.
This seemed to tell the fellers in charge that the night's possibilities were waning, and that bed might be the best place for each of us to be at the moment. It wasn't until this point that I decided to ask what time it was. Five minus a quarter, or 445.
Yeah, bed time, indeed. A good night, an interesting night, and the kind of night I hope I never am too cool to stumble upon...de vez en cuando.