What is winning? Someone who used to be my significant other, I was his girlfriend but he was never my boyfriend, believed it was getting in the last word. I’ve come to believe it’s not having to be there to hear it.
It was a lovely spring day and we were on holiday together. I’d wanted to go somewhere close to home, somewhere like the Reef where I spoke the language, hadn’t been and could just have fun. Lucas, that was his name, insisted we go somewhere I’d ‘be forced to realise how the rest of the world lives.’ So I wound up paying for us to go to a third world country on another continent where they spoke a language I hadn’t come across in high school and they didn’t have an insurgency problem as much as a generalised banditry issue. Lucas thought it was perfect.
I’ll call the place Maruchidor, just to prevent any hard feelings.
I’d wanted to sign us up for a Habitat for Humanity project on the outskirts of the capital, Ku’lin, but that wasn’t ‘real’ enough for Lucas so we were going to travel around the countryside by local bus for two weeks. Lucas thought it was perfect and insisted that we only needed a backpack each.
It worked fine for the first week. We’d travel all day on buses crowded with people, chickens and the occasional pig, plus carryon luggage, then sleep in local hotels at night. Lucas found lots of poverty and inadequate healthcare to rub my nose in. He brought my parents up at least five times a day while he told me how different this all was to my privilege back home. There were times when I just wanted to take my money and get on the first bus back the way we’d come so I didn’t have to listen to him explaining everything to me.
The people on the buses were far more interesting and it took me only a day or two to start picking up the language. It’s interesting that little old ladies in black kept telling me that Lucas was no good.
It all came to a head in Yandiña. It was a little place with the most perfect beach where we’d gotten off the bus to stay the night. The plan was to get on the next bus in the morning. Problem was the bus didn’t come. When we asked we were told it had broken down. When would the next bus come? Mañana.
I went back to the hotel, booked and paid for another night then asked their advice about places to get lunch and things to do during the day. Lucas had disappeared so I decided to suit myself. I bought a wrap-around skirt and a shawl then went to morning Mass in the three century old church. Afterwards I hired a beach umbrella and banana lounge on the beach from a man whose main customers were weekend visitors from a nearby, larger town.
That was where Lucas found me, with the addition of a soft drink, a snack and a good book. He exploded. What was I doing? What was I thinking? Why hadn’t I waited for him at the hotel?
I was trying to find the right words while Lucas raved on when the bandits showed up. I find guns pointed at me very persuasive besides which they were taking me away from Lucas. I thanked them for that and it was only later that it struck me that they hadn’t pointed a gun at Lucas.
Lucas had set me up, of course. Apparently he took his ‘finder’s fee’ and tried to multiply it by buying narcotics to take home with him. He got caught at the airport.
My parents aren’t rich, I’d paid for our holiday with my savings from my job, but they did pay the ransom. The bandits liked my father without meeting him because he said in the negotiations, “Ransom is such an ugly word. Let’s call it a consideration for your expenses in the intervention that broke my daughter up with that arsehole of a boyfriend.”
I’ve been back to Maruchidor and it was all much more fun without Lucas. I can’t forget Yandiña either; it was where I met my husband.